The Collection

Sports memorabilia and related musings...

Vintage Australian Cards

I have recently acquired a pair of vintage Australian tobacco cards depicting the sport of baseball, with company advertisements on their reverse.  I am in the process of learning more about these issues, and these two cards in particular, but I thought I would share these as they represent a fantastic bridge between the time I have spent in both the US and Australia.



Isn't it interesting to note that if you read the last portion of the text on the back of the 1936 Allen's card, it becomes apparent that the salary imbalances in the USA and the resulting disgust for the high-paid athlete is a "problem" that has always been with us...and perhaps always will be! 

Below are a couple of emails that I received from the seller of these cards.  This correspondence alone represents a significant amount of the US domestic knowledge on these issues, from what I have been told by other collectors.

Hi Jason,

feel free to use the information I have provided but apart from the references to actual books that I mentioned - Murray's Guide & Dion Skinner's Australian Cigarette Card book - I would ask that you clearly state that the information is my opinion & anecdotal (i.e. information gathered from the thoughts & opinions of the dealers /collectors I have met & spoken with over the years) and not printed fact.


Mark Gilbert


Hi Jason,

There is not a great deal of literature available on Australian trade

cards in mainstream publication, the only Australian book of note is on

tobacco issues which was printed in about 1982.

Murray's (UK) "Cigarette Card Values" Guide has a section on trade cards

& covers a number of Australian issues. If you can get a hold of this

book it probably covers the bulk of the vintage issues in terms of Set

Name, Year of issue, number in the set, card value etc but does not tell

much more than that (i.e. there is no description of the cards that make

up the set).

However the bits & pieces I have picked up over the years may be of some


Companies quite often traded card designs among themselves to save the

cost of an original production and inserted their own brand on the

designated blank areas on the reverse. This enabled tobacco outfits like

Wills to issue the same cards with three different brands of their

tobacco - Capstan, Vice Regal & Havelock. You would know this yourself

from the different brands on the backs of the T205 & T206 cards.

The c1916 "Sports of the World", if the issue dates are accurate, was

originally released as a MacRoberstons 50 card issue (MacRobertsons was

a large Australian confectionary firm). They also issued the set in a

non-colour sepia version. Wills tobacco (Australia) used this same

design in 1917. Which company was the originating designer of the set is

something I do not know but at a guess I would say it was Wills who sold

/ leased it to MacRobertsons and that part of the deal was that

MacRobertsons could use the design first.

Obviously buying a design was ideal for smaller companies that wanted to

get in on the act of giving away a card with their product but could not

afford to do their own design or print a large numbers of cards.

Therefore, while Wills & MacRobertsons cards would have probably hit the

market in large numbers a smaller outfit such as Village Maid (as on

your card) would certainly be the rarer back.

To the best of my knowledge any issuer of this set put it out as the

full 50 cards. They covered a variety of sports - both popular & the

lesser known - but the most keenly sought odds are the Cricket,

Baseball, Boxing & Golf cards.

The Allen's card is of a 1936 issue and for a long time was freely

available amongst dealers. However once there was noted interest in 4

odd cards from the series - USA (Golf & Baseball), Australia (Cricket) &

Scotland (Golf) they have become harder to find. I have sold the

Baseball card in the past (in nr mint condition) for US$50. The set

contained 36 cards.

Allen's was into a variety of subjects - Royalty, War Medals, Soldiers,

Cricketers & Footballers but this was their only venture into 'mixed'

sports sets that I know of.

I don't know of any other Australian card issue that relates to Baseball

however there is a Wills (UK) 1901 set called Sports of All Nations with

card #1 being Baseball with a great depiction of a 19th century Baseball

figure. Again, this was at one time not too hard to get but is now

almost impossible to find.

Hope this is of some help!

Kind regards,