Cigarette Trading Cards were quite popular in Victorian times and well into the 1930s, and can be bought from collectors of militaria today.
They originated from America in the 1870s. At the time, cigarettes were sold in paper packaging and a piece of cardboard was inserted in order to stiffen the packet. The Allen and Ginter tobacco company of Richmond, Virginia realised that they could be used as a form of advertising and the trading card was born.
Beginning as an advertising gimmick, Cigarette Trading Cards soon progressed to collectable numbered series on particular themes, including sports and the military. One of my old regiments, The New South Wales Lancers, were depicted by a number of different cigarette manufacturers following their service in the Boer War. Some examples appear above.
- Trooper Morris, New South Wales Lancers – Taddy’s Premier Navy Cut – VC Heroes – Boer War series (Trooper Tom Morris was the first Australian soldier nominated for the VC for his actions rescuing a wounded comrade at Arundel in South Africa during the Boer War in 1899. Sadly Tom never received any form of gallantry award)
- Captain Cox, New South Wales Lancers – Gallaher Limited – The South African Series
- Private, New South Wales Lancers – Coronel Conquerer Cigars (obverse and reverse)