Inspiration: Vintage Tobacco Cards

I go through phases of being obsessed with collecting things. I’ve got a collection of heart-shaped rocks, comic books with characters kissing on the covers, Momiji dolls and more.  In college, I went to a craft fair and saw a booth where someone sold sets of vintage cigarette cards, and a new obsession was born.

What are cigarette cards? Sometime in the late 1800s cigarette companies started putting small cards into packs of cigarettes to help reinforce flimsy packaging. Initially, the cards were blank but eventually, they turned into a form of trading cards depicting various actresses, sports players, animals, flowers, informative tips, and loads of other things as tiny advertisements for cigarette companies. In order to drum up some brand loyalty, cigarette companies across the globe began to print these tobacco cards in sets as a way to entice their customers to continue to buy their products in order to complete the series.

Gutsy Gals: Favorite Things Vintage Cigarette Cards

As I mentioned, I had no idea these tiny wonders existed until I wandered past a booth at a craft fair. My love of all things vintage made me immediately intrigued.  My favorite set from this brief obsession is cards with black and white photographs of German dancers on them. Unfortunately, since they’re from Germany and I don’t speak or read a lick of German, I never did figure out which tobacco company they came from. However, the names of the dancers and the photographers are listed on the front of each card.

Gutsy Gals: Favorite Things Vintage Cigarette Cards

In the end, I swooped up several sets of tobacco cards, got clear double-sided frames and now they grace the walls of my apartment like the miniature works of art they are. The New York Public Library has an online catalog of sets of tobacco cards that exist if you want to go down an internet rabbit hole. 

Do you have a unique collection? Tell me about it in the comments!