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Tuesday, 18th December 2007

have just watched the ship slip beneath the waves and with it the most comprehensive collection of cigarette cards the world has ever known. If you have a set of Wills, Puppies (Unissued) or perhaps Wills, Waterloo (Unissued) you can expect prices to rise in the next few months as I did not bother to rescue them :-)

As the realisation dawned that I was not going to be able to save all those cards I had to make a choice. Fortunately I had the time to make a considered choice.

'Well, if you knows of a better 'ole, go to it!'

choice One

The first was easy: Players, Curious Beaks [1929]. This is where collecting began for me. My father smoked his way to a full set of these cards. At the time I was not a twinkle in his eye but a few years later when I had become a rather more established member of the family I was presented these cards one birthday. I remember so carefully unwrapping that small album of cards. I had seen them before, I often turned those pages admiring the rich colours and art work contained in those cards. It was more of a change of ownership than a conventional present but that is how things were in those days and I could not have been more delighted.

My father was a smoker, in today's terms a heavy smoker and no doubt I had examined many cards before those Curious Beaks but these are the ones that stick in my mind. I do not need any more reason for these cards to be saved but I suppose they could be useful in identifing some of my beaky companions I share this island home with.

choice Two

My second selection was purely practical and somewhat generic. I am going to have some spare time on this island of plenty. To kill some time a deck of cards is going to be useful. There were a number of issues based on this idea. I am not going to differentiate between them. I just put my hand into the box marked, 'cigarette cards on a playing card theme' I pulled one out. Now all I have to do is remember (invent?) games of patience to keep me amused. Maybe I could train a parrot to play cards which would widen the appeal, snap could be a first attempt.

choice Three

Although I have been washed up on the shores of an island paradise there will be days where I miss the old homestead. On such occassion I am going to be in need of cheering up and what better than the humour of Bruce Bairnsfather as depicted in the Hill's Fragments from France [1916]. A quote from the back of the cards reads thus: 'There could be no better reflection of the bright spirit of the Empire's gallant sons than is depicted in these sketches, drawn by one who himself endured the grim reality of War.'

Admitedly the set has a certain gallows humour about it but I suspect there will be days when gallows humour will be what is required during my abscence from civilisation. Perhaps the classic of the lot is the two soldiers taking refuge in a shell hole as all hell is breaking out around them. One of the men has obviously been complaining about the prediciment which brings about the frustrated rejoinder from his companion, 'Well, if you knows of a better 'ole, go to it!' If times get tough a quick peek at these cards will cause me to reflect on the nature of my predicament.

choice Four
Brooke Bond, History of the Motor Car [1969]

My fourth selection is testimony to the many great issues of Brooke Bond. The one I choose is History of the Motor Car [1969]. Traffic queues and the sounds of roaring engines are many miles away from me now and I have long had a fascination with the motor car. Abscence no doubt will make the heart grow fonder as I forget all those niggling problems and the memories of travelling empty country roads on a warm spring day in a small red sports car will come to the fore. Whether this ever actually occured is not something which needs to be dwelled on, it is just a nice thought.

Although this set is something of a token set because of Brooke Bonds great service to cards over the years it also deserves to be there as one of the great motor car sets. A simple uncluttered design with a stark white background and a well illustrated vehicle greatly enhanced by the manufacturers motif prominently displayed on the front of the card.

choice Five

Now the fifth and final choice. This is my most difficult choice really, choice one can be made with some abandon, in the sure belief there are other choices but now we have got to the end of the road. Well I have decided, Wills, Portraits of European Royalty [1908]. I have never been one for understanding the intricacies of the second cousin twice removed type relationship which carried to an extreme should prove we are all one happy family. However if there is ever a family whose relation to one another has been chronicled throughout history then this is the one. If ever I am going to understand it all it is going to be whilst filling in time waiting for my rescue.

For example a reverse of one of the cards has the following mind-numbing text:

HSH the Princess Alice of Battenburg, elder daughter of Prince Louis, and through her mother, a great-nieve of King Edward VII, was born at Windsor, 25th February, 1885, and married 7th October, 1903, to HRH Prince Andrew of Greece, fourth son of King George I of Greece, and a nephew of Queen Alexandra.'

Let's hope rescue comes sooner rather than later, with 100 of these cards to look at insanity cannot be far around the corner.

J Blowers