Many of us have collected cards over the years. Before the Panini series were created, cards came with Tobacco, Tea and Sweets.
In 1895, WD & HO Wills was the first British cigarette company to produce a themed series of cards, named Soldiers and Ships. Other cigarette companies, such as John Player, Mitchel and Churchman’s soon followed suit and began producing their own colourful illustrated sets. Looking back at these initial themes (technology, soldiers, ships, sports, and pretty women), it’s clear that the sets were aimed at young men. They were identified as the most likely to take up smoking and were not yet hooked on the old ways of smoking – cigars and pipes.
If you have any spare cards we would welcome them for our museum.
The genius in these adverts was not only the selection of a particular interest audience, but also the creation of collectable, topical sets of 24 or 50 cards. This developmed brand loyalty as customers were more likely to continue to buy specific brands to complete their favourite sets. The cigarette companies supported this by producing collection albums, specifically for the purpose of collecting and storing sets of cards.
The Ardath Tobacco Company was originally located at 62 Leadenhall Street in London and called La Casa de Habana (The House of Havana) until 1895, when it changed its name to the present day version. In 1925 it was sold; British American Tobacco acquired the overseas rights of Ardath, while the Imperial Tobacco Group retained the rights of sale within the UK. Ardath’s brands continued to be sold in Britain; they were granted a Royal Warrant by King George VI in 1946 and again later by Queen Elizabeth II
Thomas Ogden established a tobacconist shop in Park Lane, Liverpool in 1860. When Ogden died in 1890 the firm was operating from six different factories and warehouses and was one of the largest tobacco companies in Britain. In 1894 Ogden’s decided to provide free photographic cards with its new brand of Guinea Gold. In 1906 the company published its first set of football cards. Football Club Colours showed the club’s star player in his full kit.
Do you have more information about this that we could add? Are any of the facts wrong? Please get in touch if so.