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Black Gold

T here is a big gap in the card coverage on this site.

Trade cards get a mention, although not as much as I would like them to get. Overseas issues get a mention, although again, very limited and future developments will include more of these. Some manufacturer's only get the briefest of lines and some not at all.

But there is one area of cards which although mentioned is so under-respresented it is almost a crime.

Unbelievably these variations are case-sensitive.

A few clues.

They were some of the first cards ever produced in the UK.

They were produced in huge numbers for 13 years or so (1894-1907 approx.). Not only were they produced for the UK but also for overseas markets.

You could collect over 9400 different main subjects with possibly over 8000 different pictures but if you wanted to go for the different variations it is more likely you would end up with a collection of over 20,000 subtly different cards.

You've guessed it, Ogdens, Guinea Golds.

The above gives you an idea why I fight shy of these cards on the site but it was time to break my silence.

More and more the requests come in. I have a set of Ogdens, Guinea Golds could you value them for me. Or, I would like to buy the cards with greyhounds on in the Guinea Gold series.

Without exception I write to explain this would not be possible. For the purposes of valuation I could not even begin to give you an idea without knowing what cards you have got and I would bet 99 times out of 100 the cards you think you have got are not the ones you have.

The greyhound request is not so grim but it is the thin end of wedge I do not really wish to investigate.

It is a fair bet 25 years in the card business have honed down my filling skills and my desire to memorize a large quantity of useless information but in all those years never once have I had a yearning to tackle this mass of cards.

When I told one fellow I was not going to value his cards for him on the basis he did not have a set of cards in the album (or if he did he did not know which one he had) this came as something of a surprise to him and off he went saying no search for information had ever defeated him before on the Internet and this was not going too.

Good luck and if he finds someone willing to do the work for him, I'd love to know, I've got a lot of work here for him.

It was this more than anything which has inspired this page so read on and find out why I avoid this area of cards. It'll also come as a handy page to send people when they ask for Guinea Gold information.

Firstly, Guinea Golds are not Tabs. They might look vaguely similar but there is a world of difference and I am not dealing with the Tabs type here, that would get complex.

The base of the Guinea Gold card contains a frightening amount of detail and this is when you first begin to realize there is a lifetime of work ahead. There are 13 basic different variations to the base of the card.

To make things easier it is basically all to do with the length of the letter g within the word cigarette.


DETAIL OF DIFFERENT BASE TYPES.
OBVIOUS WHEN IT IS POINTED OUT.

These bases are known as A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M.

There are variations within those basic bases.

Base D has four basic variations, known as D1, D2, D3, D4. And just to amuse D3 also has a variation D3a.

Base M can also be subdivided into four groups. These are known as Variation A, Variation b, Variation B and Variation C.

Yes you have seen right. Unbelievably these variations are case-sensitive.

A brief description of Base M Variation A:

In this variation the first letter 'e' of 'Cigarettes' has a stroke extending back towards the 'r'. The length of the Base is usually 31/32 mm, with occasional specimens 33/34 mm.

You read that right too. There might be a lot of variations recorded but if you really wanted to get excited about the length of the bases you could subdivide further. Let us just thank our blessings now.

So what difference does all this make.

Well if we take the set, Boer War, Boxer rebellion and Miscellaneous (usually shortened to Boer War & Miscellaneous) the catalogues list it as a set of 186 cards.

This is true if you just limit yourself to the main subjects but what about those variations we have been talking about.

Well with caption and base variations (I have not talked about caption variations and trust me, be glad we are not) there are some 700 odd cards to collect in this series.

OBVIOUSLY DIFFERENT SIDE BY SIDE.

That is the other thing you might like to know about the Guinea Gold series, some are very big. How can I be so confident people have not got a full set of cards just because they have an album which looks the same.

Well apart from the above consider this.

Actresses and Miscellaneous Base I has 113 cards in it.

Actresses and Miscellaneous Base M has 2914 cards in it

Now that is a lot of cards which look the same. But that is barely the half of it as the other 16 sets called Actresses look pretty similar and if you were not half careful you might think the three sets of Pantomime and Theatre Artistes might be part of the same set.

And these are not to be confused with the Actresses, Guinea Gold Type set which might look like Guinea Golds but are not really (there are probably 583 of these, although it is not known)

Did I mention a great many of these cards do not actually have numbers on them?

Oh, sorry, a great many of these cards do not have numbers on them.

So to the actual detail of identification .

To take one subject from one different variation of cards.

This is Actresses & Misc. Base I and we take someone called Florrie Ford.

These card can be found with the following variations:

3/4 seated astride chair, white pantaloon
F, same pantaloons, standing, hands at brim of hat
F, standing, hands at waist hitching up same pantaloons
F, standing male 'Trilby' hat, long coat hands at back
F, standing, same hat, same coat holding cane in front
F, standing, high boots, L/Hand head high
F, standing, same boots, R/Hand touching hat
F, standing, black tights, hands on hips
F, leaning against chair, L/Hand touching feather hat
F, seated white wig and tights garter on L/leg

This number of variations in pose (remember this is the same set with the same Base variation) is certainly not uncommon, indeed I have only listed 10 of 19 different poses for this person and someone called Deyo has somewhere in the region of 35 different poses.

Add in the possibility of base variation and you begin to see a valuation is not so easy, although in this instance relatively simple, in Very Good condition the cards is worth a dollar, although some of the variations will be worth more to those people trying to find that variation. The trick is finding the person that is looking and having the card they are looking for.

Actors and Actresses is one thing but there was also a large quantity of military photo's taken. Not only are these fellows as mobile as the actors but also have the added excitement of rank changes. Which can often be more difficult to locate than the fact a woman is wearing a pair of high boots or not.

Yes, before you wonder there have been requests for cards depicting women in high boots as well as pictures of women smoking and men with beards amongst other requests.

These cards did not confine themselves to just these subjects and that is why it is called miscellaneous. Potentially this is one of the few places you are going to find Vesta Tilley, The Popular Music Hall Artiste, happiest in her impersonation of men. Or perhaps A. Mooney, Crimean Veteran.

And therein lies the fascination of these cards, they are little windows onto a past reality but for now it is my private fascination and I have no desire to make it a commercial viability.

I hope that gives you an insight into the world of the Guinea Gold and possibly the reason why I never want to speak of them again :-)