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.
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.Regards,
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!