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This is a brave new frontier being opened, part of my continuing mission to seek out new cards, new trade cards. This site began in 1995/6 and ever since then I have been dodging the issue of trade cards. There is no real reason for this more than time factors. Scotty claims the 'engines cannay take it Franklyn' but I am thumping away on a keyboard which looks like a collection of boiled sweets stuck to a dinner tray and I know the finest crew in cyberspace will pull me through.

Trade cards actually pre-date cigarette cards by a good number of years

So why now?

It could be because I have been sharpening my puns over the last few months and am ready to share these awful efforts with others.

Fear not, this is not an alternative to those cigarette card pages every month, this will be additional, let me worry about how I make the time. Travelling at warp speed does have its advantages.

There is a lot of overlap between cigarette cards and trade cards, just check out all those Football series A&BC Gum (Topps) did to prove that point. For this reason I am not going to be covering the same ground in the trade cards as the cigarette cards.

What does that leave then?

Well quite a lot. Trade cards are still going strong today whereas the cigarette card fell by the wayside around the 1940's. This means there was rather a lot of subjects which were just not covered, space travel, pop music (how old does that phrase make me sound), jet aircraft, television, in fact the modern world. So plenty to go at.

They're cards Frank, but not as we know them.

Perhaps I am wrong in mentioning this, but I will. People used to be either a trade card fan or a cigarette card fan. It could well be something to do with the human psyche. This demarkation is not as obvious as it used to be for many reasons.

Trade cards to many people mean tea cards and tea cards mean Brooke Bond which is unfortunate as these are often not the high quality end of the market.

I am going to be blowing away the myth that trade cards are somehow second best. They are not. There are cards which have lower production values but lets face it there are some clunky cigarette card sets out there. A great many trade cards have production values at least as good as cigarette cards and still others are better.

Whilst on the subject of quality a lot of older collectors dismissed the whole sub-culture of trade cards, largely because of this 'quality' arguement. I did and I have lived to regret that decision. Looking back it is difficult to justify this blanket ban on these cards but you have to put it into context.

The bubble gum cards of the 1960's were coming out of the packets. Targeted at the children they did not really interest established collectors. After all an 80 year old collector in 1960 was probably sitting on a pile of the most beautiful turn of the century cards you can imagine. He had bought them when younger, he may well have even smoked the cigarettes the cards came out off. What on earth did this fellow want with a set of cards depicting Joe 90 or Captain Kirk. Imagine the horror on his leathery face at the idea of collecting the footballers of the 1970's, the game was hardly football. I mean these fellows had hair which was capable of blowing in the wind and those that did not had permed hair.. Where was Dixie Dean with his baggy shorts and boots of lead? And he had a haircut which looked like it had been painted on his head.

The other reason is just as simple and perhaps just as bogus. I have mentioned tea cards are considered the only type of trade card and Brooke Bond the only type of tea card. Well there were millions of them in the 1970's. Brit's drink tea. It is a well known fact, which unlike a lot of well known facts is actually true. Or at least is was in the 1970's, we drink more coffee now I believe. We used to put Brooke Bond cards into plastic shopping bags and sell them by weight. It really was not worth the man power of sorting them. It is an economic decision. Sorting out a set of cigarette cards is a labour intensive business.

From an economic point of view this holds true on a lot of the trade issues. A set of cards which catalogues at less than £5/$10 is very difficult to purchase, sort, hold in stock, discount, give away free world wide postage and protective sheets and come away with a profit. It is a simple business fact. I have found a way around that though as you can imagine (no I have not doubled the prices of these sets <bg>)

Bubble Gum is a fairly fast moving commodity and often there was more than one card given away in a packet and we know Brits drink a lot of tea. It is also a fact that people smoked a lot during the era of cigarette cards. One hundred cigarettes a day was a lot but not all that uncommon. This was not the case for a lot of the products that cards found themselves in. If you are used to the cigarette card culture of standard sets of 50 cards then trade cards are going to be a surprise. A lot of sets only consisted of perhaps six cards in total. In fact there is not really a standard issue number for all trade cards in that sense.

I believe it is particularly important to have these cards in existence as so often they make an effective stepping stone for the younger generations to become interested in this hobby. If every set was £100/$170 then there are not too many youngsters out there with pockets of this size.

There was also another force at work, human nature. People have to forget the specific when making general statements. Trade cards actually pre-date cigarette cards by a good number of years. Cigarette cards grew out of trade cards and like the early issues of cigarette cards, quality in these sets were very high. Often the older generation of collectors forgot these most wonderful of cards in their collections so that the generalisation could be made.

The World Turns.

I have an ability to state the obvious. In fact the world turns, roughly, every 24 hours and it has done a lot of turning. Our fictious 80 year old man is now an unlikely 110 years old (although Bones and Spock lived to ripe old ages and Scotty popped himself in a transporter beam for a good few years. Come to think of it Kirk managed to get stuck in a space time vortex which rather extended his wigs shelf-life so perhaps it is not as unlikely as I thought), his collection of cards has probably been thrown away long ago. Those gum chewing children are now late 30's and the economic balances have been tipped. Many of these people are not going to know 90% of the footballers depicted on the cards but if they do not know who Captain Kirk is then something is amiss and this page is confusing.

Those cheap cards of childhood are now the sort after cards of second childhood. (go see Bubble gum cards)

Is there a conclusion to all this?

So to recap, trade cards came before cigarette cards and they survived cigarette cards. Trade cards can be cheaper than some cigarette cards and more expensive than others. It is also possible to get trade cards which are of comparable quality to cigarette cards and better (or worse) . The cards which are fuelled by the nostalgia factor are making large sums of money now and they are rising in price at a dramatic rate.

I have to go now as some alien beauty has just walked in and she has just seen my shoulder poking through the torn T-Shirt (the usual evidence of me fighting with an eight foot hairy monster who punched me in the ribs a couple of times). I feel a bit of soft-focus and peculiar music coming on.

It is probably going to turn out to be Nurse Chappel with my medication, my eyes are not what they used to be (they are small brussel sprouts to be precise).