Cigarette Cards

I’ll start by saying I am vehemently anti-smoking. But whatever your own standpoint you have to face truths. In times past most men smoked. It was just something you did – a rite of passage between boyhood and manhood.

It isn’t so very different today. Many a young person still takes up the habit because it feels adult to do so, and also a tad rebellious. And of course we all know that smoking is addictive. Once people start it is very hard to stop.

So although I am very anti, I can accept that there is little point being critical of current smokers and of course, there’s no point at all in criticising smokers from the past.

One such was my dad’s cousin, Ernie Stevens. And being a smoker he soon got into collecting the cards that manufacturers put in packets. I have looked at, in the past, my desire to collect Brooke Bond tea cards. It was the same idea. Produce cards in sets and persuade impressionable people they must collect all of them. As a sales method, it seemed to work.

I got to know Ernie in the 1960s. He only lived about 15 miles from us, but before my dad got a car that was just a bit out of range for children. By the time I knew him Ernie was in his 50s and he was pleased to show me a huge collection of cigarette cards. I don’t know why he gave some to me, but he did – some were in albums and some were loose. Let’s look at an album.

image002It’s quite a nicely made little album with a romantic picture on the front.

Inside there are spaces – ten per page – for the cards.


This is part of a set of fifty footballer caricatures. They date from 1926.

Each card has the caricature of a footballer along with his name. This one is Sam Chedzoy.


The artist for all these cards was Rip!

On the back there is a brief biography of the player.


Cards came with all sorts of topics. People saw them as a great way to further an interest or to learn something new.

It was just a shame they had to indulge in the self-lethal habit of smoking.




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