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In America during the 1880's cards known as 'stiffeners' were inserted into paper packets of cigarettes to reinforce the packaging and so to protect the contents, someone (believed to be an American journalist) had the idea of advertising by printing a picture and descriptive details on them. An early set of cards issued by Taddy & Co. titled Clowns and Circus Artistes is one of the most expensive sets, valued at £650.........per card!! Now you know why the Clown, which is one of the cards in this rare set of 20 is at the top of this page. Although cards packed for the British market were marketed by 1885, it took some 2 years later for a British manufacturer to issue a card.The cigarette card samples illustrating this post are from an extraordinary collection maintained at cigardpix's photostream. It contains several thousand examples of the card sets, broken down by categories. One of my favorite categories was 'Boy Scouts and Girl Guides'. Can you imagine what a ruckus cards like that in cigarette packages would cause today?
W.D.& H.O.Wills were the pioneers in advertising and promoting their product and towards the end of the 1880's issued small tickets with wording on (which I hope to include soon), followed by illustrations of some packings and miniature copies of famous showcards. Their debut is believed to be around 1887.
Cigarettepix has kindly given me permission to post some of the cards. Faced with such a wealth of choices, I limited myself to cards from the 'Around the World' category. There are more after the jump, and literally thousands more at cigardpix's photostream.
I do hope to revisit the stream in the future with more posts. They're nice graphics, and the range of topics they cover is surprising. By the way, should you decide to take up cigarette card collecting, the hobby is called cartophily and the CigaretteCards website has more information about it.