Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wills's cigarette cards

The graphic wallop that can be created in a 2.6" x 1.4" is amazing. That's what I thought when I spied the card above in a case at a Michigan antiques mall. I HAD to have it, and got it for a mere $1.

It's No. 29 in a set of 50 First Aid cards that were tucked into packages of Wills's cigarettes in 1913. I was familiar with sports cigarette cards but not with DIY ones. Of course, the minute I got home I started researching them and discovered that dozens of series were published from Household Hints (in 1927 and 1936) and Flower Culture in Pots (1925) to Engineering Wonders (1927) and English Period Costumes (1929). Oh, and the requisite sports cards of footballers and cricketers, these were British cigarettes, after all. 

I became obsessed with obtaining the entire First Aid set, which I did much later at an outdoor antiques show in New Harmony, Ind. On the back of each card: detailed first aid instructions. I cannot explain it - other than my odd sensibilities - but the images of bandaged body parts on cards, from left, 48, 47,  40 & 39 are among my favorites.

At that same New Harmony event, I also scored a 50-card set of Gardening Hints, from left, cards 5, 6, 7 & 8.  Find out more about cigarette cards at this terrific UK site.

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