This is the final part of a three-part series covering the early history of tobacco cards from the pre-war era.
In Part I and Part II of this series, I reviewed the earliest tobacco cards from the 1800s as well as tobacco cards produced from the boom of 1909-11. While tobacco cards remained popular internationally for decades to come, American tobacco cards featuring baseball players ultimately began to give way to more child-friendly candy and gum cards.
Here’s a look at some of the more notable pre-war tobacco issues that came after the 1909-11 boom.
Similar to T206
With white borders and a basic card front, the 1909-11 T206 set has a classic look. That layout was mimicked in other sets, too.
One of the more popular issues was the T213 Coupon Cigarettes series. Coupon produced three different sets — one assumed to be from 1910, a second during 1914-16, and a third in 1919. The Coupon cards, particularly the first (known as T213-1), have a strong resemblance to the T206 cards. In fact, the first are often considered to be T206 cards.
The T214 Victory Tobacco set includes the same design as T206. However, these cards are usually not considered to be T206 cards as they were printed many years after the T206 run.
Finally, another closely-related set to the T206 series is the T215 Pirate Cigarettes / Red Cross issue.
These cards are believed to have been produced from 1910 through 1913. They have the same front design as T206 cards but with Pirate and Red Cross tobacco ads on the back. As is the case with the T213-1 Coupon cards, some consider these to be a T206 offshoot as well since some of the Red Cross cards were issued as early as 1910. However, for now, the T213, T214, and T215 cards are still considered separate, distinct issues. All three series’ are pretty rare with prices for commons usually topping $100.
Other Late Tobacco Issues
Most tobacco cards featured individual players. But some were team issues and the 1913 T200 Fatima Team Cards just might be the most popular. This set of paper thin cards included horizontal team photographs of American and National League squads.
The Fatima cards are an ideal way for collectors to pick up cards featuring specific players without the large price tag. Fatima, for what it’s worth, also did produce a set of individual cards the following year in 1914 with its T222 set.
Non-traditional cards continued to be made in the 1910s, too. One of the more unique issues was the 1912 Hassan Triple Folders set. These long, horizontal cards pictured two players on the ends with a black and white action shot in the middle. They are distinctive for the end cards, which utilized the same artwork as that found in the popular gold border T205 set that was issued a year earlier. Additionally, the 1914 T330-2 Piedmont Art Stamps set was another issue not featuring traditional ‘cards.’ These, too, utilized the artwork from the T205 set.
As tobacco cards were becoming less popular, they were being printed in smaller quantities. Thus, several of the later tobacco card issues are quite rare.
Baseball was also a part of multi-sport sets. The prime example of that is probably the 1912 T227 Miners Extra / Honest Champions series. This small 25-card set (only 24 have been found to date) included four baseball players, including Ty Cobb, Home Run Baker, Chief Bender, and Rube Marquard. All four are desirable but, as you might expect, Cobb’s is the key there (shown here on the right), selling for over $1,000, even in lesser condition.
The 1911-14 T216 Peoples Tobacco set is another very rare issue. Printed with cigarette advertising backs for Kotton, Mino, and Virginia Extra on the back, these cards resembled several early caramel card sets, including the E90-1 American Caramel release. Even low-grade commons from this set usually sell for a few hundred dollars.
And while most tobacco cards were issued with cigarettes, some were found with other types of tobacco. One of those is the Derby Cigars set. The set features players from the New York Giants and Philadelphia Athletics. As those two teams were the 1913 World Series participants, this set is believed to have either been distributed in late 1913 or as a commemorative set in 1914.
The Twilight Years
The 1920s and 1930s included few American tobacco issues. However, one tobacco set worth mentioning is the 1922 Fans Cigarettes set.
This scarce issue is barely known by most collectors with only a handful of cards being discovered to date. The cards have been dated to 1922 because they include 1921 statistics for players. But little else is known about the tough issue. Even the Fans Cigarettes name was foreign to most until a cigarette package with that name was brought to the public in 2018. A Frank “Home Run” Baker card from the set is shown here.
Finally, Worch Cigar issued three different sets of baseball photos in the 1930s. In 1932, they distributed a set featuring the Minneapolis Millers, a minor league team. A large 1933 set of major leaguers was then issued followed by a 1933-34 set featuring American Association players. Notably, these photos were once believed to be issued by Wheaties. But a discovery of many found inside Worch Cigar envelopes has changed that perception.