State Library of South AustraliaState Library of South Australia

Cigarette cards

Catalogue record

Object Source: [Album of cigarette cards from Wills's and Capstan cigarettes]

Date of creation : [ca. 1910-11?]

Additional creator : W.D. & H.O. Wills (Firm)

Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for personal research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.

Format : Ephemera, 170 x 250 mm

Donated by Ms Beth Brittle

Cigarette cards, issued by Capstan cigarettes (16 cards) and Wills's cigarettes, pasted into a Kodak photo album

The sets of cards include: Public buildings (16 cards); Everyday life around the world (41 cards); English history (50 cards); History of aviation and aviators (69 cards); Postal service (25 cards); People of the world (12 cards); Birds (52 cards); Australian animals (7 cards).

Tobacco companies began issuing these colourful cards from the 1880s and by the early 20th century thousands were being issued and collected. Cigarette cards were a development of the tradesman cards of the 17th and 18th centuries and as a result of advances in colour printing techniques. The earliest cards were produced as 'stiffeners' for the soft packets of cigarettes, but the companies quickly realised the potential and marketing value of the cards. WD & HO Wills issued their first general interest set in 1895.

By the beginning of the 20th century there were 300 tobacco companies issuing the cards, and Wills alone produced some 175 sets, with cricket being one of the most popular subjects.

During World War I, there was a drop in production. After the war, the cards became popular again. Military topics, sports and movie stars became the focus. World monumants, animals and plants remained favorite themes.

Production of cigarette cards ceased during World War II due to restrictions. Manufacture ceased in the 1950s because of rising costs in production and distribution.


Further reading

Bagnall, C. L. British cigarette card issues / compiled 1950 by C.L. Bagnall. Part 1 : 1888-1919. Catalogue London (34 Wellesley Rd, Chiswick, W4 4BP): London Cigarette Card Co. Ltd

Bagnall, C. L. British cigarette card issues / [compiled (1950) by C.L. Bagnall]. Part 2 : 1920-1940. Handbook [Drayton] ([Drayton Court, Drayton, Langport, Somerset]): [London Cigarette Card Company], 1972

Cycling 1839-1939 / issued by John Player & Sons [Great Britain]: John Player and Sons, [1939]

Skinner, Dion H. Cigarette cards Australian issues and values Malvern, S. Aust.: Rennicks Books, 1983


NYPL Digital Gallery: Cigarette cards: ABCs

State Library of New South Wales: Team cigarette cards

Wikipedia: Cigarette card

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