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Collecting Cigarette and Trade Cards by Gordon Howden, vintage book profile, revue and price guide charts the history of cigarette cards and other trade cards. Includes a detailed outline of the 1901 Tobacco War, card printing techniques, some of the main producers and over 750 colour cards depicted in illustrations.
Guide to collecting cigarette and trade cards
Collecting Cigarette and Trade Cards

About the Book

Collecting Cigarette and Trade Cards by Gordon Howsden is an interesting book, though some of the price information therein is somewhat dated. Cigarette cards are, of course, trade cards in their own right. They started out as stiffeners in soft cigarette packets in the 1880s, usually with an advertisement for the producer on one side and blank on the other. They soon evolved into something different: A commercial loyalty scheme whereby subject cards were issued in sets, encouraging smokers to collect each series and thereby cementing the relationship between tobacco product producers and their customers.

This book focusses mainly on cigarette cards with a smaller section on miscellaneous trade card publishers. The term "trade card" covers just about any card inserted free with a product - and not just by tobacco producers: Most of us are familiar with bubble gum cards and tea cards and the host of confectionery producers who used these cards. But there are also more obscure ones: Cards which appeared in tins of shoe polish, dog biscuits or with periodicals, are also popular with collectors.

This is clearly a useful book - well researched and put together. It gives a good outline of the main tobacco producers and the Tobacco War of 1901. The many illustrations give collectors a good sense of the variety of cards available. Included is a broad price guide for the cards which illustrate the book throughout - but it should be noted that the Internet has had a huge impact on the prices which can be achieved nowadays. In the main, these have come down in the past twenty-five years as cards have become more readily available to the average collector.


  • Foreword (by E.C. Wharton-Tiger MBE, then President of the Cartophilic Society of Great Britain)
  • Introduction
  • Tobacco and the Cigarette Card
  • A Collector's Guide
  • Printing and Production
  • The ITC Giants
  • The Imperial Branches
  • The Independents
  • Collecting Worldwide
  • Trade Cards
  • Thematic Collecting
  • Novelties and Related Ephemera
  • Card Condition Grading Guide
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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A book by Gordon Howsden
Written by Gordon Howsden

About the Publisher: New Cavendish Books

New Cavendish Books Limited is a British publisher based in London. At the time this book was published, in 1995, the company was housed at 3, Denbigh Road, London, W11 2SJ. The publishing activities of the company came to the fore in the mid 1970s with Allen Levy's notable book A Century of Model Trains (1974). In a similar vein Frank Hornby, The Boy Who Made 1,000,000 Dollars With A Toy, was published the following year.

Other early published titles included:

  • The Art of the Tin Toy (1976)
  • The Life Story of Meccano (1976)
  • The Last Parade (1977)
  • Mouse and His Master: Life and Works of Terence Cuneo (1977)
  • The Complete Car Modeller (1978)

Over the years many more books were published, largely dealing with collectors interests: Art, toys - including model trains and die cast cars, model making and collecting in general.

The last published book I can find accredited to New Cavendish Books is The New Great Book of Corgi 1956-2010, which was published in 2011.

Illustrated guide to cigarette card collecting.
Many colour illustrations throughout

About the Author: Gordon Howsden

This is the only book accredited to Gordon Howsden. At the time of its publication he was a member of, and frequent contributor to the publications of, the Cartophilic Society of Great Britain, including to their regular periodical: Cartophilic Notes and News.

Gordon had previously worked for a trading house in London and collected a wide range of cigarette and other trade cards, along with related collectibles.

Physical Outline: 

Title: Collecting Cigarette and Trade Cards

Author: Gordon Howsden

Editor: Narisa Chakra

Photography by Mark Williams

Published by New Cavendish Books, UK 1st edition, 1995 (also published in the USA by Pincushion Press)

Format: A soft cover book

Pages: 152, detailed text, 250 colour photos by Mark Williams, which include 750 cards and other collectibles such as packaging

Size Approx: 250x210mm

Approx weight: 636g

A history of cigarette cards
Details of all the main publishers

Estimated Book Value:

If you need values in US dollars, Euros or a host of other major currencies, a currency converter is included in the right hand sidebar of this page, and another in the footer area.

Collecting Cigarette and Trade Cards by Gordon Howsden, estimated value of the pictured copy, a first UK edition, ex library book, which is in Good condition, £10

Estimated value of the same book in Fine condition, £20

External Links:

Cartophilic Society of Great Britain

Cigarette card origins

The Tobacco War

The Imperial Tobacco Company

The British American Tobacco Company

The American Tobacco Company

List of trade card producers

New Cavendish Books Ltd

Allen Levy

Frank Hornby

Terence Cuneo

Pincushion Press

Mark Williams (photographer)