|it is a favourite question for people that just love to display their knowledge of trivia
Surely every parent knows the trickiest question in the world begins with why. The trick is not letting the children know. Once they cotton onto the fact you are all at sea within about three repetitions of the word 'why' they are never going to leave you alone. They say children are cruel and this proves the point perfectly.
If you find yourself in this position then a set of Gallaher, The Reason Why  is just what the doctor ordered. There are 100 cards in the series which just might stave off a few disputes in the family and amaze the children at the same time. It also is popular amongst the 'value for money' types that like a lot of cards for their money.
The real treat is the cards are over 70 years old now so it is unlikely the children are going to have a clue what you are talking about, sweet revenge then to be able to explain why an Anthracite Stove has a Mica front (card 38 explains all). Give the blighters a few of these and they might not be so keen to be asking why by the end of the day. Why does it have a mica front? The reason is one of appearance.
Like a lot of the card series based on these themes it is a pretty random bunch which sometimes has the artists struggling to find something to draw. Card 33, 'The Reason Why an Electric Lamp glows' is a case in point, the artist has not quite got the fact they are glowing quite right, we are left with a picture of two light-bulbs. Card 46, The Reason why we know the Earth is round, also is pretty stylised (its all to do with the horizon).
Then again with unpromising material like, card 70, 'The reason why a golf ball has an uneven surface' is very well done. Although the golf ball is so large as to look like a nuclear power station, the golf links stretches towards an inlet which merges with the sky at a spit of land. It is this sort of thing which reminds you that not necessarily was only one artist employed in producing a set of cards.
Seventy years ago there were certain things the human race had not quite worked out but like centuries before it did not stop people stating facts.
Card 6 seems to fall into this category, The reason why we have lines on our hands. It starts of by pouring scorn on a theory that help us grip objects better and then goes on to explain they are probably helping us sense things. Might be right but quite why my forehead has needed to become more sensitive to touch as I have grown older I cannot fathom. More likely they are there on your hand to tell you how long you are going to live and they are there on your forehead to tell everyone how long you have lived.
The opposite side of the coin is shown on card 71, the Reason Why a Pig has a ring put in its nose. The reason is obvious, so the farmer can lead it around via the nose, rather like a bull. Of course this appears to be total nonsense and the card gives another, better answer. The ring is inserted at an early age to stop the pig damaging its nose by routing away the ground in search of food. When they start grubbing the ring causes 'a great inconvenience and actual pain if persists.'
Well there you have it. You do not see pigs with rings through their noses much nowadays. It is interesting to see that the ring is designed to stop damage occurring (which must hurt but must be a natural thing) but the idea that pain of the ring would stop them doing it.
Card 52 does seem to explain something which has been puzzling me for years. I was introduced to the Miners Safety Lamp early on in my history education. It was never fully explained how the thing worked, it seemed suitable to suggest the fine gauze meant the flame could not get out. Well from what I knew about fire this did not seem quite right unless I was misjudging exactly how fine the gauze was and how thick flames actually was.
All is explained now though. The gauze takes away the heat from the flame rapidly enough to ensure the air about the flame does not become hot enough it ignite the gas. The flame will change colour with the presence of gas because it will burn it along with the normal air supply. Marvellous.
Card 36 deals with the marriage ceremony, or at least the best man's role in the business. I have had the honour of fulfilling that particular function and I remember the glee on my chums face when he announced that if he failed to show at the church it was my job to marry the bride. Quite how this was supposed to work when the Best man was already married was not determined (we were too drunk at the time for such thoughts). However I traded his knowledge with the fact he got to marry the chief bridesmaid if the bride failed to show. If he had been nervous about the idea of me ensuring he did not get to the church so I could make away with his future wife he became even more agitated by the idea the bride was not going to be turning up. He was in a state of total panic by the time of the wedding so I thought I did my duties well on that occasion.
Card 12 explains something in a manner both of us in a state of drunkenness would have been proud. I can almost see one of us explaining why a hard felt hat is called a bowler and the other nodding his head in appreciation of this new found knowledge with neither of us having a clue what we were taking about.
The explanation goes thus. In the early part of the 18th century men would push back their wigs to show the true colour of their hair. Since that time the sportsman has pushed back whatever he wore on his head, and the angle of the hat proclaimed the man. The first hat of this type was made for a Norfolk man, William Coke by a Houndesditch hatter called Bowler, hence we get 'Billy Coke' (billycock) and Bowler.
Card One has the feel of an urban myth about it but it is a good story and bears repeating. If you look at an old style clock face, the type with roman numerals have a look at number 4. Instead of the correct IV, it is usually represented as IIII. This was pointed out to me a number of years ago and it was news to me despite having looked at such clock faces for years.
Not as long as the practice has been going on it seems as it all began in 1370 when King Charles V of France demanded his clock-maker, Henry de Vicke was told to alter the wrong numeral IV, to the correct IIII. Henry protested but was not stupid and so it remains to this day.
The 1970's has long been considered the decade that style forgot. Remember those bell-bottomed trousers (pants) you used to wear. Well sailors wore them first and this was because they spent a lot of time washing down the decks etc and being able to roll their strides up to their knees swiftly was handy. Thankyou card 21.
Staying with sailors for a moment longer card 58 attempts to explain why there are three white stripes on the collars they wear. Well the card mentions a lot of things and then in passing suggest it is probably commemorating Nelson's three great battles, Nile, Copehagen and Trafalgar.
I do not want to read too much into this but it happens to be the furiously independent Gallaher that draws attention to this fact and not Players.
Players trademark Hero was a sailor with only two white stripes on his collar (check out Pack Art)
Remaining with the armed forces theme for one more card.
Card 84 deals with the Cenotaph, which is a name for an empty or honorary tomb. Many of these sprang up after the First World War when villages and towns marked the fallen with simple and powerful structures. At the moment there is a commission trying to collate information on all these dotted about the country. Sadly now some are falling into ruin or have disappeared, erected as they were by public subscription, by the families who lost loved ones in the conflicts of war, this is a waste I feel quite strongly about.
Often overgrown, sometimes vandalised by the thoughtless, they stand as a reminder and we should remember them. When this set was produced War was very close to hand both in past and future terms.
One last armed forces card, as it is a favourite question for people that just love to display their knowledge of trivia. I was with just such a group the other day who managed to trip me up on the matter of which regiments and ranks had the privilege of being able to grow beards.
Card 99, the Gloucestershire Regiment are allowed to wear two cap badges, one on the front of their caps the other on the back.
As you might imagination it was the celebration of heroic deeds (and why not). In this instance though commemorates the fact the regiment drove back the French Cavalry during the Battle of Alexandria (1801) despite the French attacking them from both front and rear.
I am going to leave you with the question, Why are some Railway signal Arms forked? Card 74 tells you but I'm not going too.