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Sunday, 25th January 2009
How Munch?

In areas of this site I have given the impression that cigarette cards disappeared over night. This is obviously not true as can be readily proved by reading other pages on this site. It is a useful short-hand rather like saying dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago.

Shortages of material during World War Two meant cigarette cards were an unnecessary luxury.

I have never read a definitive reason as to why card production did not continue after the war when it became possible once more.

Probably there is no one reason. There is a possibility that cards were rather too successful as a collectible and there was a growing concern about the impact they had on the young and the desire it may instill to start smoking. Certainly this could be part of an argument put forward but sounds more like justification rather than reason and a rather modern one at that.

One thing is certain vast quantities of cigarette cards were produced but for some reason never issued.

So it is not a case of not having the raw material to produce them. Nor is it the case that cigarette manufacturers felt that as a promotional tool cards had run their course.

Improvements in packaging had rendered the cigarette card obsolete from a functional point of view for quite some time but they had continued despite this.

So what happened?

Certainly manufacturers were keen to continue brand loyalty with gift schemes based on collecting coupons from packets, a practice which continues today. So it was not really the idea that brand loyalty did not need a helping hand.

The gift coupons may just hold a clue. Barely thicker than a piece of paper they are made of low grade material with repetitive printing. Art work has been reduced to basically nil. Text research just does not come into it. Color has been dramatically reduced. What is more the ' value' of the coupons is low.

Cigarette cards had survived the coupons of the early 1930' s so there was no telling if they were going to beat off this new challenge. History has shown us this did not happen.

I mentioned previously that cards were produced in great quantity and were placed in a warehouse. Millions of them, literally. The records of cards that were produced during this period show the manufacturers were not sure if the cards were going to be issued as can the shown by the lack of date sensitive issues such as sporting personalities. Rather they went for cards with a timeless appeal, so they could be wheeled out when the need arose which unfortunately it never did.

Another part of the story could be the fact that I.T.C held such a large market share as a group. There do not seem be any records of the larger independent companies printed cards. For example Gallaher does not appear to have printed cards.

I think it just comes down to basic economics, if Gallaher had issued a series of cards then just maybe the whole process would have been kick-started once more.

Below is a list of some of the unissued sets of cards which do exist. It is not a complete listing there are other I know about and by the nature of these things there will be some I do not know about.

Although the article is about cards which were produced after the 'end' of the cigarette card era this is a list of card sets which were not issued which is a slightly different thing.

For the first time this year I have included an estimated date of production for these cards which is based on the content of the cards or company records, it represents a best guess for the most part but it is not a bad guess.

Once people know these cards exist the next thing they want to know is what did they look like. Well fortunately although numbers beyond counting were destroyed in 1968 when warehouse costs became prohibitive and many of the cards had deteriorated there was often enough high quality cards to escape into the open market, or at least big dealers supply bins.

Say what you like about the larger dealers they have preserved more cards in better condition than would have been possible without them.

Indeed some sets were saved in such numbers they are amazingly inexpensive to purchase others naturally did not survive the pulping process so well and are now almost legend. Wills, Puppies I am not even sure ever were produced as cards as I have only ever seen examples which were cut from a proof sheet, needless to say buying them is not really an option for those with mortal bank accounts.

Others though you can simply buy like you can other cards the only difference being the liklihood of you capturing one of these cards in the wild so to speak is very unlikely.