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Tobacco Trading Cards

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What's the big deal about these tiny tobacco cards?

The History of Tobacco Cards

The origin of collectible trading cards can be traced back to Aristide Boucicault, a French businessman and founder of Au Bon Marche department store. In 1853 he issued a collectible set of picture cards as a form of advertising. Soon the practice was adopted by makers of a variety of products including soaps, coffee, chocolate, medicines, and more. The tobacco industry took notice. 

cobb-detroit.jpgTobacco cards began as a small blank card inserted into cigarette packs in the early 1870's to strengthen the packs to avoid crushing. It didn't take long for the industry to realize the advertising and customer loyalty value of printing collectible picture sets on these inserts. In 1875 Allen and Ginter tobacco company was the first company to begin including printed cards that depicted actresses, baseball players, boxers, and Indian chiefs. Goodwin & Co and other companies quickly followed suit. In 1887 practice was adopted in the UK by W.D. & H.O Wills.

Card series typically consisted of 25 to 50 subjects but there are series of over 100 cards. Perhaps the most recognized tobacco trading card is the the American Tobacco Company's 'Honus Wagner' from the baseball set T206. In 2007 this single card set a world record when it sold for $2,350,000. Later that year it set a second record when it brought $2,800,000! What makes the card so valuable you ask? Honus Wagner was against tobacco and tried to block the release of the card but a few slipped out creating a highly sought after collectible. Other highly collected cards are Taddy's "Clowns and Circus Artistes" and Mecca's billiard player George Sutton.

Thousands of tobacco trading cards coming soon to mmgvintage.com

Tobacco Trading Cards

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