Trade literature is a general term including catalogues. Definitions of the term "trade catalog" vary, but in general, trade catalogs are printed materials published by manufacturing, wholesaling, or retailing firms. They promote sales by making advertising claims, give instructions in using products, provide testimonials from satisfied customers, and include detailed descriptions of sale products.
“Trade catalog” derives from the expression “to the trade,” and the materials were originally produced by manufacturers and wholesalers for their salesmen to market to retailers. The Trade Literature Collection is internationally known as an extraordinary source for the history of American business, technology, marketing, consumption, and design. Trade literature includes printed or handwritten documents, usually illustrated, of items offered for sale, ranging in size from small pamphlets to oversized folios of several hundred pages.