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Wobbling Wonders

N ow I hope you have not read the title

and rushed here in a hot flush.

If I were to sit in a room on my own for many years (this description is uncomfortably close to my reality actually) I would have thought of a great many ideas for cigarette cards.

Rather like the idea that given enough monkeys with enough typewriters and enough time the complete works of Shakespeare would be produced eventually it would be possible that every theme covered by cards would fall into my fevered mind.

What sort of fevered state would need to be reached before a chap came up with the idea of Ogdens, Marvels of Motion [1928] is actually beyond me.

relativity is explained on the back of a cigarette card.

The fact my imagination is just not up to the job is then pushed home to me when I see the set.

If you gave me the working title, 'Marvels of Motion' as a set concept there is every possibility a rather mundane set of mechanical movement would result.

You would be looking at a set containing such marvels as the motion of a train wheel. Mercifully for my battered ego, this is actually on card 21 of the 25 card series.

That pretty much is it for me, the other 24 would be beyond my grasp as card material.

This might be because my knowledge of physics is frighteningly sketchy (I worry how clouds stay up in the sky and exactly how much they weigh, at times this becomes quite a concern).

A lot of the cards take a lesson from the pages of physics books. The first one is one of Newton's Laws about equal and opposite reactions. It shows a boxer hitting a wall, the harder he hits it, the more the wall hurts him with the equal and opposite force.

Card 19 shows the laws of leverage, this time illustrated by an oarsman pulling a boat through the water. The card reminds me there are three orders of levers and informs me an oar is of the second order.

I've watched a lot of programmes on the subject of Einstein's theories. Afterall, it is a middle class intellectual thing to do. You cannot really be considered bright unless you can nod your head wisely and talk gooble-de-gook about relativity and such things.

This is always okay as long as everyone knows the game being played. You pretend to know what you are talking about and those listening pretend they are following what is being said. The trick is trying to suggest you know just that bit more on the subject than they do without anyone admitting to not having got a clue, unless you have adopted the role of doe-eyed girlfriend saying, 'Isn't he clever' which of course is really embarrassing for all.

Thankfully such conversations usually devolve into the grandfather paradox and we can all quickly get onto the subject of Star Trek and everyone can do an impersonation of their favourite character and try to outdo each other with more and more ludicrous paradoxes.

Card 5 is the only instance I can think of where Einstein's theory of relativity is explained on the back of a cigarette card. It uses the classic example of two people, one stationary and the other on a railway carriage observing two lightening strikes as they hit the carriage.

All so simple.

Newton himself makes an appearance on card 8. He is discovering gravity with the help of apples falling from the tree. They are not landing on his head but rather in front of him. I read it was an orange tree in his garden a few years ago.

A few months ago there was a lot of fuss about the earth passing through the Leonids. A large group of meteors we pass through regularly and which light up the night sky. As is typical of these celestial light shows they happen at rather unsociable hours and always behind thick cloud cover whenever I look out of the window.

OGDENS MARVELS
OF MOTION [1928]

Thankfully card 6 of this series tells me about the Leonids, cometary dust it suggests which we pass through every 33 and one third years. As well as telling me the British Museum has a meteorite which weighs 3 tons.

So far the examples have been relatively conventional.

But all is not as simple as it seems. Centrifugal force is illustrated by the use of a woman standing on the back of a horse as it runs around the circus ring. You have to be impressed with that level of lateral thinking.

Obviously the compiler was keen on this particular force as later it appears in the guise of looping the loop. Illustrated is an improbably large loop with a chap on what I assumed to be a motorcycle in the processing of looping but now I notice the lunatic is actually achieving the stunt on a bicycle.

Not content with the unlikely to illustrate some marvels of motion card 10 demonstrates the gyroscope.

Obviously the uses for which these things were put to at the time the set came out were just not fun enough so a fantastical illustration is given of a train like thing going across a canyon on a single, almost invisible, rail. A marvellous thing to watch but not something I would enjoy being a passenger on.

There are only 25 cards in this set which could be for the best as clearly things were heading in very strange directions when this set was being put together.

This extraordinary missile weapon was an original invention of the Australian aborigines. In shape it resembles a flattened U, some two or three feet in length, with arms slightly skewed or twisted in opposite directions. In consequence of this characteristic twist, the Boomerang is diverted from its original track by the resistance of the air at every rotation. At first it travels almost parallel with the surface of the ground, sometimes for 100 yds. or more before rising into the air. A Boomerang has been known to rise as high as 150 ft. and to circle as many as five times before returning to the thrower.

Finally though my favourite card of the set, card 3, The Boomerang.

OGDENS MARVELS
OF MOTION [1928]

It would seem unlikely anything quite that spectacular is about to happen when the gentleman illustrated lets his boomerang fly given the amount of vegetation etc which surrounds him.