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Monday, 17th December 2007

here is something of a paradoxical relationship between man and dog. Many phrases do down our canine pals. Gone to the Dogs, a right dog's dinner, the dogs body, being just a few. There can be no greater pal than a person's dog. I believe it was Sir Thomas Moore who uttered the line, 'Love me, love my dog.'

Many a comedy sketch has been shorn up by the idea that a person grows to look like their dog. Unfortunately the comedy aspects of me looking like a Yorkshire Terrier are too close to laugh at. We could almost be brothers. Well all right perhaps I am stretching the similarity. More like first cousins when I think about it.

As the years go by the rights of dogs are eroded, and their popularity has suffered as a result. It is estimated that there are more cats in the UK as pets than there are dogs, imagine that! There can be no doubt there are more wild cats in the UK than there are wild dogs. Now I am hearing there are almost as many pet rabbits out there as cats. I know there are a darn sight more wild rabbits than wild dogs in Britain.

This underlines the way we have treated our oldest of companions as doormats (although my terriers make terrific dusters). I do not want to start ranting at this point but no longer can we walk the dogs on a tidal beach for fear of the dogs going to the toilet. Many dog-lovers were up in arms, so was I until I realised I did not really want to walk my dogs along the beach. They usually present me with some human waste as a gift and are more likely to get spiked on a used syringe than come up to me crunching a tasty looking fish head. It would be nice if the authorities managed to get the beaches into a condition where you wanted to walk a dog along them rather than worry about what mess a dog could make on the beach.

Dogs were well represented in the world of cards

Well what am I yapping on about. Even Sweeney Todd my own hairest of companions is unsure (but then again he is not the sharpest tool in the box.) He must have finished the dusting and he has the look in his eye which suggests he wants to go 'ratting' around the beach huts.

Hang on a minute let me tickle the little beast to within an inch of his life and I can get on with this article.

Right, he seems to have had enough lets get back to the purpose of all this, cigarette cards.

Dogs were well represented in the world of cards (far better variety than Cats which did not fair at all well, although cat sets do exist.). After sports, dogs are probably the cards are I asked to supply more than any other, they really are that popular.

It is not my purpose to list all the dog cards on this page. if you want to see dog images check out the gallery section of the site this has a good few of the sets mentioed in this article along with checklists of cards within the set. There are also other pages on the site which deal exclusively with sets mentioned within this article.

Anyone that is interested in Dog cigarette cards owe a considerable debt to Players. They issued a wide variety of Dog cards and many of them illustrated by the late great Arthur Wardle. Dogs are depicted both as full length, against scenic backgrounds or against plain white, or just their heads. Really well done, as a series of cards they have to rate amongst some of the most consistently well drawn.

In fact Players, Dogs Heads by Beigel was one of the last sets Players attempted and was never issued.

Players, Dogs Heads by Biegel

Not content with this sort of variety Players also introduced larger format cards for man's best friend, the larger format cards giving the artist greater freedom to indulge in detail and expression, making these some of the best cards available (if you like that sort of thing). Prices reflect the sort of demand these cards have. However prices on this site have not reached some of the giddy heights I have seen advertised over the internet.

Churchmans rather let down the dog-loving smokers of their brand with just a single set I am aware of, being, Dogs and Fowl [1908]. This set has a certain interest as it is comprised of 38 cards, an unusual number in the world of cigarette cards. Howlers should have been a set about Dogs but that was not to be (apologies for wearing that joke just a bit thinner). Having said that, at least they made the effort. There were plenty that did not. Into the dog house for those manufacturer's.

Whilst on the subject of strange numbers in sets, TP & R Goodbody, Dogs (Multi-backed) [1898] has the distinction of having 67 cards in the set. At this point I do not want to get into any dog-fight but there is a site which specialises in Dog cards who state Taddy's, Dogs [1900] is the earliest set of cigarette cards issued in the UK. I am happy to bow to their greater knowledge on the subject but it would seem they were wrong. If there is anyone out there who happens to be an expert in the field of Dogs drop me a line to clear it all up.

JA Pattreiouex, Dogs [1939], mercifully produced under the brand name Senior Service, took a different approach when they used real photographs of the subjects. A series of 48 cards the format was of 'large small' cards.

Godfrey Phillips, Our Puppies [1936] was a series of 30 cards in larger format which really went for the 'ahh' factor. It was accompained by the set Our Dogs [1939] also a series of 30. These sets are now difficult to get hold of.

In the same year Carreras, Dogs & Friend [1936] was issued. This again was a rather charming set and always intended to be, there was rather an emphasis of the friend element in these cards.

Gallaher, Dogs series one

Gallaher produced a number of dog sets but true to form nothing is easy with them. The cards they produced were always of a non-standard size and so were the numbers in the set. On this occassion they excelled themselves with 48 card sets and 24 card sets as well as larger format cards. There are also a number of varieties. That said they are very nice sets and although relatively inexpensive are surprisingly difficult to track down.

Finally Wills, Dogs [1937] a fifty card set of dogs full length which has a good number of similarities to the Players sets of the same ilk. This might not be a surprise as Wardle was also the pen behind these cannine wonders. A nice set the dogs stand against various pastel backgrounds.

This is in direct contrast to the rarer large format Dog cards Wills did in 1914 & 1915, both being 25 card sets. These have very dark backgrounds and have that substantial feeling of oil paintings. Really beautiful sets they are hard to come by and much sort after.

Strangely enough Wills also have an unissued series of dog cards on the catalogue, Puppies. This set is no where near as available as the Dogs Heads by Beigel. In fact they are as rare as hens teeth but there are authorised reproductions available, although clearly marked as such, make sure you check before agreeing any sort of a price on this set.

Below is a catalogue of some of the cards mentioned in this article and some that are not. Please note these are prices per set and I will discount any of them available so get in touch. If there is a set of cards you are looking for in this theme or any other drop me a line I will do my best for you.

Anyone interested in finding their particular dog on the cards and see some more card images head here