1910 CANADIAN PLAYER CARDS
These Canadian player trading cards were issued by the Imperial Tobacco Company of Canada in 1910. A set of 98 cards entitled "Lacrosse Series, C-60" were given out one at a time as a free premium and was inserted into cigarette packs. The front of the card shows the name, team, card number, and colour picture of the player, while the back of the card has the name, and the playing history of the athlete and some other personal information. Read more about this topic.



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In the late 1800's and early 1900's cards were often included with perishable products, printed with the name and address of the shop who sold the goods. If the cards were sufficiently attractive, it was hoped they would be retained by the customer and form a permanent reminder of the product and where it could be obtained. In effect, a pictorial business card.



A logical development of individual 'trade' cards was to produce them in a series, and make them so attractive, that the consumer would return time and again in order to complete the set. Many scrap albums which proliferated in the US and Europe at the turn of the century are evidence to this. As a majority of the shoppers were women, the cards were biased towards subjects of feminine appeal, hence the preponderance of fashions, flowers, pictures of children and pets, die-cut country scenes and historical figures.

At around this time, cigarettes were beginning to take over from pipe smoking and chewing tobacco as a popular activity. Cigarette boxes were not invented yet and the slender tobacco filled paper tubes were usually packed in the same fragile paper packets as was the loose pipe tobacco. Often, they became crushed and so it became the norm to include a cardboard 'stiffener' in the pack. An unknown genius conceived the idea of combining the stiffeners with the current collecting craze by printing a series of pictures on these cards. The insert cards originated in America and the idea soon spread to Britain, Australia and around most of the rest of the globe and in the period from 1880 to 1940, sets of cigarette cards were issued in profusion.

The hobby of collecting these cards is called Cartophily.



There was slight change of emphasis when cigarette cards appeared, since the majority of smokers were men. The subjects chosen to appeal to them were militaria, sport and women. In the USA, Kinney issued a series of 622 'Miltary Series' and Allen & Ginter 'Great Generals', while Duke combined two themes in its set of 'Gymnastic' series which showed muscular ladies performing, as did the Kimball 'Pretty Athletes'. Sports were featured on two sets of Allen & Ginter 'World Champions' and Kimball 'Champions of Games and Sports'.



In 1909, baseball great Honus Wagner ordered the American Tobacco Company to take his picture off their "Sweet Caporal" cigarette packs, fearing they would lead children to smoke and would stunt their growth. The quick removal and destruction of almost all of the cards makes the Honus Wagner card the most valuable sporting card of all time, worth close to $500,000.