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Saturday, 17th May 2008

P reviously

I have made much of the Tobacco Wars and the big guns that did battle in that period. Although there is no doubt ITC, ATC, BAT are huge influences on the tobacco industry and they swallowed up hundreds of smaller companies there remained a place for the independents.

Although this unequal struggle never really brought the sort of passions to bear as does the Microsoft Vs The Rest of the World type debates that go on in the computer industry it is still worth a footnote in history.

It makes quite a nice 'theme' to collect the cards which were produced by the independents before they became a casualty of commercial war.

So this is a tribute to the smaller companies who refused to bow to the might of the massive companies, at least for a while.


..managed to squeeze out one series of cards

They only managed to squeeze out one series of cards. Established in 1896 the company only got around to producing cards just before the outbreak of The Great War. This was a series of cards celebrating the old masters in medium size formats and in series of 30.

War stopped the card production and as the company was taken over by BAT & ITC in 1925 it was not to issue another set of cards as an independent.


The best known brand being the Black Cat brand which was named after a black cat that used to sleep in the shop window.

Various promotional methods were used such as coupons and postage stamps and the issue of cards did not start until 1916.

They started with a good one though, Raemakers War Cartoons. This was a set about the unpleasant manner in which the German army was prepared to wage war, a rather crude propaganda method, but it was a first attempt. Such was the inflammatory nature of this set the Germans put a price on the Belgian artist, Raemaker. The reward though was fortunately never collected.

Maintaining an innovative theme they were to produce Women on War work. A nice set of 50 cards highlighting the very important work the female population of the country conducted during the war years.


JM Barrie was a distinguished consumer of the Carreras brands so no surprise Peter Pan makes an appearance on a set of cards called Figures of Fiction [1925]

Now I do not want to disappear into the entrails of company takeovers, although producing family trees for companies is quite a rewarding experience but in 1913 Carreras took over Alexander Boguslavsky and in 1925 they produced a number of sports related cards, perhaps inspired by the 'TURF' cigarette brand.

AB unfortunately failed to produce a set of cards before they were taken over. So there you have it, the reason why you will find Carreras cards with the 'Turf' cigarette brand on the reverse of them.

john sinclair

Bernhard Baron an American had been the driving force of the company for many years until his death in 1929. Just before his death however his company made an association with JA Sinclair of John Sinclair Ltd. Sinclair became a director on the board.

Unfortunately for collectors John Sinclair was not a large issuer of cards although what they did produce is worth collecting. They are probably better known for the silk issues in 1914 and the not so popular photographic series.

The most famous brand for this company was Chairman cigarettes

Although John Sinclair might not have been a prolific issuer of cards he did like to expand and in 1937 he bought the firm of RJ Lea. The most famous brand for this company was Chairman cigarettes.

rj lea

This late takeover date meant RJ Lea had produced many wonderful set before the takeover. Potentially the company is best known for the Old Pottery & Porcelain series they did which started in 1908 and finished in 1914.

If ever you are looking at a catalogue of cards you are also going to notice the set, Modern Miniatures [1913] almost invariably it will have 46/50 next to it, or some such notation. The full set of 50 was issued in very small numbers but some years later a considerable stockpile of 'remainders' came onto the market.

Remainders being cards which for one reason or another never got onto the market despite the fact the set was distributed. The problem was the remainder stock was missing 4 cards.

After World War Two both Sinclair and Lea were integrated with the Carreras umbrella.

COpe bros & co

Despite it being one of my favourite producers of cards they rarely get a mention.

I almost feel guilty mentioning this company at all. Despite it being one of my favourite producers of cards they rarely get a mention. Why? Pretty simple really, I keep them. A collector has to collect something after all.

This most illustrious of firms began in 1848 by Thomas and George Cope in the tobacco town of Liverpool. It hit the headlines fairly quickly by the simple method of purchasing the entire first crop of British tobacco. This crop had been grown as an experiment in 1886 by Government decree.

Something of a tobacco companies tobacco company they sponsored the trade journal, Tobacco Plant for many years. Early pioneers of the cigarette card within the UK they produced some wonderful cards during the early period.

richard lloyd

Cope added Richard Lloyd to their list of achievements in 1902. Richard Lloyd managed to get three sets of cigarette cards fired off before being consumed. It might well have been due to the fact Richard Lloyd produced a set called The seven ages of man [1900] which was the exact same title and subject matter of a set Cope had produced in 1885, although maybe not.

Now these two companies produced some beautiful sets. Cope might well be best known for the golf sets they produced.

By the time cigarette card production had fairly much ceased Cope/Lloyd was bought by Gallaher.


The business was begun in 1857 by a 17 year old called Tom Gallaher. Something of an unsung businessman, the son of an Irish-farmer it is thought the first set of cards this company produced was Types of the British Army [1897]

A proud man he refused to bend his knee to the tobacco giants

A proud man he refused to bend his knee to the tobacco giants and in the extended series of Irish view scenery which stated, 'Gallaher Ltd are in NO Ring or Combine.'

This company produced a lot of cards on the Film Star theme and it is often not noted the number of sets they produced which have 100 cards in the set. In fact they issued over 30 sets with this number in, somewhat flying in the 50 card set format of ITC.

In fact Gallaher were determined to be non-aligned, the format of the cards being slightly different, shorter and a little wider than the ITC efforts. When they were not producing 100 card series they could not resist but to create 48 card series.

Unfortunately the coupon war of the early 1930's rather put Gallaher off the cigarette card scent but once this was ended the company returned with some force.

In 1934 Gallaher took over International Tobacco Limited and under this new ownership International produced its first set of cigarette cards.

A short time later Gallaher swallowed up E Robinson & Sons of Stockport who had produced 7 sets of cigarette cards but had not produced one since 1916. It then produced King Lud Problems a series of 25 in 1934.

This takeover is a classic example of big fish eating little fish as E Robinson had only just acquired the firm of llingworth and Pattreiouex.

Leaping forward, after the Second World War Gallaher acquired JR Freeman and later Cope in 1953.

Eventually though even the mighty Gallaher fell to American Brands when they secured a 67% stake in the company in 1968 which increased to 100% in 1975. This fortunately was long after the demise of the cigarette card and so three cheers to Tom Gallaher for ploughing his own furrow throughout the cigarette card period.

rj hill

Started by two brothers in 1775. Again they were pioneers of cigarette cards with the statuary series they began in 1898. Henry Archer & Co was bought in 1905 by this company. Up until that stage Henry Archer had only produced actresses and actor sets all 3 in 1900, one of which is 51 cards long. Under Hill's ownership Archer only produced one more set of cards.

The odd number set Archer produced might have inspired Hill with the Wireless Telephony set 1923 which was 84 cards long.

Hills factory was bombed during the war (1941) and all records and remainders were destroyed. The company remained independent until 1953 when John Sinclair, part of Carreras, bought them out.

godfrey phillips

bought as many other tobacco companies as they produced cards

Now this company almost bought as many other tobacco companies as they produced cards. Actually this is not quite true but there were 24 other major companies purchased by 1948.

Whereas the 'beauties' series fell out of favour with many tobacco companies by the Edwardian period Godfrey Phillips stuck with the theme till the First World War. I cannot do this company justice in the space I have given myself so at a latter date I will dedicate an article specifically to this subject.

Finally of course there was James Taddy which is a little bit of the tobacco industry forever independent and in this manufacturer I have written a page.