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Saturday, 17th May 2008

I would suggest that there is probably no other tobacco company whose cards can create so much interest. The firm represents some of the most consistently high priced cigarette cards in existence. Like most things you have to decide if the price is worth it. However this is a well organised market where the laws of supply and demand are relevant so presumably the price has some relevance to worth.

Certainly Taddy's cards are some of the most beautiful cards the UK market has to offer. The reverse of these cards are some of the most artistically pleasing there are. I am not sure pretty backs have a lot to do with price but you never know. If you are getting the impression I am somewhat I am somewhat in awe of these cards then you are not going to be far wrong. These cards are the Constables of the card world. I'm gushing now so lets stop that.

Even the lower value cards such as Prominent Footballers (London Mixture) are worth £11/$19 a card and lets face facts, although not expensive stacked up against some things there are a lot of people out there who would baulk at paying that sort of money for what is essentially a bit of card. L love my cigarette cards but you do have to keep some perspective on these things. Then again there are 383 cards in the set, so any of you thinking this set is a cheap option think again.

Visually I consider the set to be a disappointing

Another variant on this series, Prominent Footballers (No footnote) are again only worth £11/$19 a card but there are 595 cards in this set. I suspect the days are gone (if they ever actually existed) where you could collect a set of these just by purchasing odd cards.

However to prove the adage, 'size isn't everything.' The set this company are most famous for is Clowns & Circus Artistes, a most restrained set of 20. What it lacks in quantity it makes up for in price, £650 per card. It is reputed that there is only twenty sets known in existence.

If you are feeling a little depressive it might be best you skip over the following paragraphs. What comes next could be considered a little depressing by the most prozac pumped mind.


In 1970 a set of 'clowns' appeared at auction and made the princely sum of £105. Wish you were there, me too.

By 1972 the price had risen to £1,000 for the set.

In 1976 an article in a prominent trade magazine wrote that at least two sets had reached £2000 each in auction and went on to predict that the rarity of these sets could see the price go as high as £2500. No time scale was given for this prediction so in some measure they were correct.

In the mid 80's a 'set' of 19 (out of 20) went for auction, fetching £4600. But it was at the end of the 80's when a rumour emerged that a complete set had changed hands for well over £10000 in a private deal.

The one that got away...

I was reading an article the other day when a particular horror story unfolded on the page in front of me. The article was about dealing with dealers (I always read these outpourings). It chronicles the authors childhood experiences of collecting cards. A friends father gave him a set of cards in a box, they were Clowns and Circus Artistes, numbers were pencilled on the back to aid identification. Cards were still in manufacture at the time and were not treated with the same type of respect as perhaps they are now. It was this boys want to send off his odds to a dealer who would return a suitable number of replacements the boy would ask for. No money ever changed hands and no real thought of economic process was considered. The relationship went well and the author could not remember ever sending anything away of significant value. That is apart from the Clowns. (Has your heart sunk? Mine has.)Obviously the deal was much in favour of the dealer as the small boy does not remember truck loads of 'odds' coming his way by way of exchange.

As far as I am aware the dealer no longer trades, or at least I have not had contact with him for at least seven years. That might not be any surprise, probably sunning himself somewhere hot (!) I am not going to name names, the writer did but it is not my place.

Taddy's, the business

Taddy was founded in about 1740 as a purveyor of tea, snuff and tobacco. Business was successful for about 150 years before the set of Clowns is reputed to have appeared. Murray's does not give a production date for Clowns and if they do not nor will I. It might be worth noticing they do not actually label it as unissued either. Some of the few sets which do exist were hand-cut as if they had not been properly prepared.

At this time Gilliat Hatfield was the owner of Taddy's. Being a fair man, paying reasonable wages and creating a comfortable workplace he felt that there was no need for his workforce to join a Union.

It does not matter how knowledgeable you think you are there is always someone ready to surprise you. How about this for a trivia exchange I saw some few years back
Taddy, British Medals and Ribbons, card #4
'General Service, America, 1812-13.'
The two bars shown are for the battles of Chateauguay and Fort Detroit. The medal itself, though, bears the head of Queen Victoria and the date of 1848. At first sight it would appear that there is a definite mistake, and on a Taddy card at that!
However, I believe this medal was issued at the same timas the Naval General Service Medal which was issued by Queen Victoria in 1848 to men who had gone unrewarded for the numerous sea battles between 1773 and 1840. There were no less than 230 bars awarded with his latter medal, inscribed with the names of Trafalgar, Nile, Copenhagen and other battles famous in Naval History.
It would seem likely, therefore, that Taddy made no mistake in their illustration but that the medal was issued some 36 years late.

This was to be his undoing as in 1920 his workers went out on strike in support of their fellow workers. It was then he issued his ultimatum, go back to work or I close the factory.His employees called his bluff deciding to remain on strike. True to his word Gilliat closed the factory the following day and in doing so destroyed all the records. From that moment there was a premium on Taddy cards.

There was a South African branch of the firm and there is some evidence to suggest that manufacture of cards continued at that branch for some while after the shut-down of the UK branch

This act of destruction was also to mean that there is no real evidence of when the cards were issued. A prime example is Wrestlers. Frequently this is dated 1898. However in 1981 someone wrote to say they had one of the cards (there are only 2 in the set.) describing Crozier as World Middleweight Champion 1909. Fine, looking up Murray's (1999) the date given is 1908, £275/$470 per card. I have never got to the bottom of this particular situation.

Clowns in focus.
Taddys, Clowns & Circus Artistes

If ever you see these cards (there are reprints available, clearly marked as such I hasten to add.) try not to be too disappointed. This set may well have been the last set to have been produced before the factory was closed. One theory suggests that the few sets that exist were removed from the factory in someone's pockets. As such they are hand-cut for the most part.

Visually I consider the set to be a disappointing colour series and flipping the back over it is plain. As the name suggests the cards depict various acts in a circus. The set is unnumbered and so 20 cards in the set is an assumption. No new cards have been found since 1940.

A quick introduction to this text is in order. I got an email in the middle of December (98) from Jonathan who said he was a descendant of the cigarette card manufacturer Taddy. He mentioned he had various books of account relating to the business and personal effects from various members of the family. Well this sort of email does not land in the mailbox everyday (if it did there would never be an update).

Did I want to know more he asked.

If my brain communicated the command to type Yes to my fingers I have no knowledge of it happening, I think they typed the word out on instinct alone.

I mean do I want to know more about anything to do with cigarette cards let alone to do with one of the premier manufacturers of cigarette cards. Cigarette cards considered to have almost mystical powers in some cases.

Well emails were exchanged and Jonathan kindly put together this potted history and I include it in full in his own words. I hope you get the same sort of kick out of the information as I got.

There was (maybe still is) a portrait of James Taddy in Margate Town Hall,dressed in the robes of a freeman of the Goldsmiths Company, next to a portrait of his brother, Edward Taddy. These two where well known in Margate 180 years ago.

Their father was a certain yeoman farmer whose ancestors had lived near Margate centuries before. I have a deed dating back to 1497 in the name of Taddy for land near Margate. His name was also James Taddy and I have a portrait of him, and also of his wife. He originally lived at a small farm called Street Court in what is now Westgate-on-Sea. Later he went to a farm called The Dane, where Margate's Dane Park now is. If you look at the register of St. John's Church, Margate, you will see that he was baptised on 6th June 1710, married on 30 September 1736 Sarah Mussared, and was buried on 21st November 1764, having ridden his horse too close to a cliff which gave way.

He had 11 children, six of whom survived into adulthood: Roger, who became a non conformist preacher in Thanet (Zion Chapel); James, whose portrait I have mentioned and who founded the company of James Taddy & Company; Edward, a farmer; Susannah, who married a Mr. Tomlin; Anne, who married John Hatfeild, my great great great grandfather, from whom Gilliat, the last owner of James Taddy & Co was descended; Mary, also known as Polly, who married John Friend of Brooksend Farm, Birchington-on-Sea.

James Taddy, the farmer's son, went to a small school on Margate when about ten years old. I have his copy book from that time. His teacher, whoever it may have been, seemed to have drilled him with a sound knowledge of the 3 R's (reading, writing & arithmetic). He was set the following question: How many paving stones 20 inches by 14 inches will pave a room 18 foot long by 12 foot wide; And another:

The distance from Margate to Dover I supposed to be 20 miles - I demand how many barley corns laid end to end will reach the said distance. Young James Taddy worked out the answer 3,801,600 and proved his statement correct. I believe a barley corn is an old measure: 3 barley corns = 1 inch.

My ancestor Anne Taddy met John Hatfeild at that school. With the help of his brother-in-law he became a banker in Norwich. He married Anne Taddy on 27th January 1771.

At the age of about eighteen, after the death of his father, James Taddy went to London (why?). From his book he recorded paying threepence for a boat trip from London Bridge to Westminster on 3rd April 1767, and also on the same date Advertising for a Place, three shillings. He got on very well with a firm of merchants dealing in tea and chocolate, Cooper, Garratt & Taddy it was called in 1772. Later he started on his own a Tobacco & Snuff factory at the Minories near Tower Bridge. This business flourished and was run by John Hatfeild's son Alexander, then by his son Gilliat, and finally shut down as you know by Gilliat's son, also called Gilliat. James Taddy became a rich man. A liveryman in the London Goldsmiths' Company, but he never forgot his birth place of Margate and in about 1814 he purchased the estate at Hartsdown and died there on 27th June, 1828. In his latter years he did much for his native town. In 1797 he gave the land and helped to start the Royal Sea Bathing Hospital (closed 1998). The patients were brought down from Tower Bridge on the old sailing hoys to Margate Pier. He left a widow but no children. She was accidentally burnt to death at Hartsdown in 1836, after which my great-great grandfather, Charles Taddy Hatfeild (Alexander Hatfeild's brother, who ran the tobacco company) moved there form Walmer Court. Edward Taddy lived at Dane Park and was the last surviving male line of Taddy and died at The Dane in 1835.

He married Mary Friend in 1799, she died in 1828. They did have a son, James Taddy junior who died when he was about 28 - this son if he had lived longer would have been Edward's and James's heir. Edward Taddy made money at his farm at The Dane during the Napoleonic Wars, and he inherited from his brother all his land at Margate.

It was said in our family by my grandfather's (born 1891) old nurse, Charlotte Chandler, who came as a nurse at 18 and left at 90, that Edward Taddy could walk on his own land from the North Foreland (Broadstairs) to Reculver without leaving his own property, except to cross the roads ( about 7 miles?). He left his estate to be divided up between about 16 nephews and nieces (after numerous legacies) and to the descendants of his sisters

Anne Hatfeild and Susannah Tomlin. My grandfather heard in the family that both James and Edward felt it very much that there were no male Taddy's to carry on the name. Any of his great nephews who were christened Taddy were given a very handsome christening present of £1000. This is no doubt why my great-grandfather and great-great grandfather were named Charles Taddy Hatfeild.

I have a few of James Taddy's account books, a book of Taddy Registered Trade Marks, and a bell with Taddy on it from the factory. My grandfather was close to Gilliat and was his executor. He was left an estate in Yorkshire (Hatfield) but gave it away and neither he nor Gilliat were in the least bit interested in material possessions. Gilliat's estate, Mordern Hall, was gradually swallowed up by the London suburbs and he left the park and house (which he ran as a privately funded children's hospital) to the National Trust.

So there you have it the sort of detail you can never get enough off and once again thanks to Jonathan for sharing the information with us all.

Taddys, Natives of the World [1899]

A footnote of some import:

An e-mail drew to my attention an oversight on my part. A gentleman had a set of Taddy's in near perfect condition but it was not a set listed above. My apologies. The answer is as follows. Taddy & Co was re-registered as a name (it has absolutely nothing to do with the original firm.) and this firm produced a number of cigarette card sets in 1980. They are as follows:

8. Advertisement Cards [1980] £4 a set

26. Motor Cars (Clown cigarettes) [1980] £8 a set

26. Motor Cars (Myrtle Grove Cigarettes) [1980] £12 a set

26. Railway Locomotives (Clown Cigarettes) [1980] £12 a set

26. Railway Locomotives (Myrtle Grove Cigarettes) [1980] £6 a set.

Also if you look on the reverse of the cards there is a government health warning on the back of the cards, not something the original Taddy company had to worry about but then again the product was not such a major source of government revenue back then.

Cards which break the £650 barrier.

It is a common misconception that the Taddy's Clowns are the most expensive in the world. Going by catalogue price this is not entirely true.

Below is a list of more expensive individual cards

Even more alarming is the fact that Taddy's do not even hold a record as the manufacturer of the biggest sets. A list of those collectors nightmares are below:

Sets with over 595 cards in them.

They all represent a lot of smoking and a lot of collecting, especially if you were a football fan who liked Godfrey Phillips brands in the roaring-twenties.