Cigarette cards

Collection Data

This collection consists of approximately 100,000 cigarette cards from various countries, i.e., United States, Australia, Great Britain, China, South Africa, and other places, depicting actors and actresses, aircraft, art treasures, sport champions, etc.
Dates / Origin
Date Issued: 1850 - 1959 (Approximate)
Library locations
George Arents Collection
Shelf locator: Arents Cigarette Cards
Cigarette cards
Trade cards
Advertising cards
Biographical/historical: Cigarette or tobacco cards began in the mid-19th century as premiums, enclosed in product packaging. They were usually issued in numbered series of twenty-five, fifty, or larger runs to be collected, spurring subsequent purchases of the same brand. Typically, these small cards feature illustrations on one side with related information and advertising text on the other. The height of cigarette card popularity occurred in the early decades of the 20th century, when tobacco companies around the world issued card sets in an encyclopedic range of subjects. After a slump during the First World War, popularity resumed, with new emphasis on film stars, sports, and military topics. Plants, animals, and monuments of the world remained perennially favorite themes. While most cards were produced by conventional offset or other economical commercial printing processes, a few series were issued as original gelatin silver photographs or printed on silk or linen fabric; others were created as puzzles or paper toy cut-outs. The appeal of contemporary cigarette cards fell by the 1950s, ceasing their production and distribution.
Content: Title devised by cataloger
Content: Arranged alphabetically by card series title
Physical Description
Extent: Approximately 100,000 items
Type of Resource
Still image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b15262620
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): b50ab6f0-c52b-012f-5986-58d385a7bc34
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