The home of the Cartophilic Society of Great Britain

All About Us

Last Updated : 19 September 2020

This is the story of card collectors past … without whom we would not be here. So please read on, about collectors, just like you, who wanted to make sure such things were recorded for the future, and in simply doing that made the paths that we now follow. We are proud to pass on their stories, so that you, in turn, can pass them to generations of Cartophilists yet to come. 

So, the first thing you may be asking is what is a Cartophilist? Cartophily is a 20th Century word, made by combining  the French word “Carte” (meaning cards) and the Greek word “Philos” (meaning enjoyment or appreciation). Therefore people who enjoy collecting cards are technically called Cartophilists. This term seems to have fallen from popular use, but for many years the Society magazine was called “Cartophilic Notes and News”. There is an amusing variant though, as in a Pathe News Documentary filmed in 1937, which you will encounter later, reference is made to ‘Cartophilistines’.

The beginnings of organised collecting

It is impossible here to pay tribute to every single one of those who have devoted their minds and their time to researching and to archiving cards, and have advanced the hobby to its current stage. And, remember, for most of that time there were no such things as computers or internet to help them!

When Colonel Charles Lane Bagnall D.S.O. M.C. T.D. F.P.R.S.I. laid the foundation stone of Cartophily in the 1920’s, he did so on unturned soil. Though the earliest cigarette card ever recorded had been issued in the 1870s, no records or information about that, or any subsequent cards, had been ever laid down in a form to help collectors. Indeed, even requests for information asked to the cigarette issuers was met with surprise, for cards were ephemeral, purely intended to sell more product by encouraging the basic human instinct to form collections, and then once that set had paled, to be discarded, destroyed, and replaced with something new. They were not things to remember, or record for posterity, although they had been issued right across the globe, with tobacco products, foodstuffs, and as advertising for all manner of shops and suppliers. As for their origins, nothing could be less glamorous. When you sold a commodity in a paper packet, it ran the risk of getting damaged, but not if you added a piece of cardboard between the product and the paper. Then someone had an idea – if they printed a picture on one side of the cardboard and their trademark on the other, it would be extra advertising. This developed into producing different picture cards every so often, then to numbering each card, and finally to adding the words “A SERIES OF…” plus a number, so you knew there were other cards, still out there, yet to find. 

Charl;es Lane Bagnall

Colonel Bagnall (shown here) had been born in 1884. In the 1911 census for South Hylton, near Sunderland, he appears, aged 26, as a Forgemaster Engineman, but he was also a Philatelist, of some note, involved with organising large stamp exhibitions and events; and his personal collections, specialising in stamps of The Ukraine and of Papua, received international Philatelic awards. A very interesting, but brief outline of his personal life and military service can be found at: https://www.durhamatwar.org.uk/story/14057/

We are not sure how he became involved with cigarette cards, but in 1927 he founded the London Cigarette Card Company, in a house in Wellesley Road, Chiswick, which, amazingly, was a company purely for dealing in cigarette cards. Their first “catalogue of prices” was issued in 1929 and, in 1933, they started a regular magazine for card collectors; this is still issued today, though the company has since relocated to Somerset.

In 1937, Colonel Bagnall featured in a Pathe News documentary, a super film, starting with all manner of cards being tipped from a box onto a table: it is actually still available online, and you can see it for yourself just by clicking this link: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/cigarette-cards-issue-title-calling-all-cards. Watch it, and we are sure you too will be tilting your head to see which cards you can spot falling by!

Colonel Bagnall died in 1974, but his legacy lives on, and collectors are still benefiting from his research today. 

His daughter Dorothy, (shown in our picture with her father) shared his love of cards, and followed him into the Company. Her excellent book “Collecting Cigarette Cards” is also her joyful auto-biography;  published in 1965 by Arco Publications, this is, we are glad to say, widely available at many libraries (including our Society one, where its reference number is C460). Every collector ought to read it. And we really hope you will.

The start of Card Clubs the birth of the Cameric

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A. E. Cherry

In 1935, the first ever proper card club, “The Cameric Cigarette Card Club, was started in London by two former school friends, Derek CAMpbell Burnett and Arthur ERIC Cherry (shown here). This club successfully attracted many isolated collectors who had been scattered across the country and turned them into a unique fellowship. From November 1940, it even produced and circulated a regular printed magazine called “Notes & News”, a whole run of which are available in our library, They prophesy of how the hobby would develop once the war was over, but sadly Mr. Cherry was not to see this. He died young, a Prisoner of War in Singapore. Three years later, Franz Vernon Blows would become the President of the Cameric Club and write this splendid article to tell the story of a friend sadly missed: 
https://www.card-world.co.uk/e-cherry-founder-cameric-club/

The Cameric Club held regular meetings at London’s Bonnington Hotel, a most attractive building within easy reach of the British Museum and Bloomsbury. The Society’s main officials were Franz Blows, Fred Piper and W.W. Wright, whose son would later edit the Cartophilic Society magazine.  

The Cartophilic Society is born

The Cartophilic Society, perhaps inspired by the success of the Cameric, had been formed in 1938. Its inaugural meeting was held quite quickly, on the 15th of December 1938 at Anderton’s Hotel, 102-105 Fleet Street in London. The building has since been demolished, but this illustration was unearthed in order to illustrate our Jubilee commemorative card in 1988, the reverse of which which says “…. The pioneers who attended the meeting laid firm foundations which war and the discontinuance of cigarette cards could not displace. Today through its extensive publications and many branches the original objectives to “propagate, preserve, and enhance the hobby of cartophily” are still being followed successfully.” 

Edward Wharton-Tigar

One of the pioneers at this meeting was Edward Wharton-Tigar M.B.E. F.C.I.S. Born in 1912, he had started collecting cigarette cards before he was ten years old. He was our second research editor, and worked not only on the Society magazines, but also on all of the early Society green covered reference books, starting with “Un-numbered Series : Cartophilic Handbook Number 1” – so named because it was the first of many books taken from his extensive collection of cards and his quite amazing information index system, the combination of which would also lead to the production of our World Tobacco Issues Index in 1956.

Mr. Wharton-Tigar was the owner of “the largest cigarette card collection in the World”, and was recorded as such in The Guinness Book of Records. In fact when the house next door to his came up for sale he bought it for additional storage. His entire collection was bequeathed to the British Museum on his death in 1995, where it is registered as a group under 2006,0201.1. He frequently said his cards were what he wanted to be remembered for, but he did write a biography of his amazing wartime exploits, simply called “Burning Bright”. Obituaries also give a hint of these; this one, in The Independent reminds me most of him, but probably the best factual one is this one, in the New York Times. He also has a Wikipedia entry at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Wharton-Tigar

The Cameric Club and Cartophilic Society merges

to be continued…..

Here are a few more notable names you ought to know: 

Mr. Edward “Ted” Knight succeeded Mr. Wharton-Tigar as the Cartophilic Society President. For some time he had been our New Issues Research Editor.

The picture is the front of our Year 2000 Watford Convention Commemorative Card.

Mr Knight died in 2005. 

Eric Gurd : collector, historian, researcher, author, editor of “Cartophilic World” magazine, in fact our first research editor. He wrote several volumes in the early 1940s, the first two being published in 1942, both being based on his long term interest in and research into the beginnings of cigarette makers and cards.  The first was “Prologue to Cigarettes – The Story of Robert Peacock Gloag, England’s first Cigarette Maker”. Mr. Gurd was especially taken with Mr. Gloag, a character probably unknown to most of our readers today, but vitally important in the story of smokiana. It was whilst Scotsman Robert Peacock Gloag was serving as paymaster to the Turkish forces in Russia during the Crimean War that he noticed local soldiers were fond of rolling up paper and filling the tube with ground up tobacco, which they then put to their mouths and produced a yellowish smoke. When Gloag returned to this country, he brought the idea of these “roll up” cigarettes back as well, and from a factory in Walworth, London, he started to produce “Sweet Threes” cigarettes, becoming the maker of the first branded cigarettes to be produced in Britain.

Mr. Gurd’s second book, “Cigarette Cards – An Outline”. was one of the first real histories of cards and how to collect them. A copy of this volume is available for society members to borrow through our library. The reference number is C430. After the publication of this booklet, updates and expansions to it were published for several years as articles within the “Cartophilic World” magazine, which he so ably edited. A large proportion of this work was also used to produce the first Cartophilic Society Monographs, starting with number one, the issues of Faulkner (library ref.no.F08), and moving on through R & J Hill (H28), the original W.D. & H.O. Wills booklet (W30), Gallaher (G06), Abdulla,Adkin&Anstie (A05), Ardath (A52), and the Directory of British Issuers (D15). By this time the need was felt for a volume explaining the language of cards, which led to his involvement with “Glossary of Cartophilic Terms”, first issued in 1948. This is still an excellent volume to read as you start to collect cards, and it explains so many of the unusual words you will come across in card auction catalogues. It too is available in our library, reference number C198.

Alfred James Cruse was the author of several books. His first was this full colour, 22 page, “All about Cigarette Cards”, published by Perry Colour Books” in 1945. It was followed by “Cigarette Card Cavalcade – including a Short History of Tobacco” , published by Vawser & Wiles Limited in 1948 with a striking card covered dust jacket, identical to that for his“Cigarette Card Collecting”, published in 1951

This section is under construction and we welcome your memories of cigarette and trade card collecting in earlier days. Though several websites detail the history of card issuers, the stories of the vitally important researchers, collectors, and dealers are slowly disappearing. Here are some notable absences we welcome your thoughts on: 
MR BURDICK and his American catalogues, plus his amazing collection – MR C H MATTHEWS and the Monograph – TED PRIOR of the Universal Cigarette Card Co. – E.V. POTTER whose lovely illustrated catalogues formed a great introduction to the world of card collecting for so many of us – and many others. Also early magazines like “The Cigarette Card Review” magazine started in 1946 by E. H. W. Ltd, and “Cartophily Britannia” . incorporating “Bill`s Bulletin”, produced in the late 1950s by “Bill” Wareham. Several collectors, like him would become dealers, and produce some very interesting catalogues of their stock – these do appear in internet auctions from time to time and make fascinating reading though they do always make readers wish for a time machine and some old pennies! Just a few of the dealers of the time were – The Collector & Hobbyist”, who ran monthly auctions at Caxton Hall and The Bonnington Hall in Central London – and issued cards! – Alexander S. Gooding who advertised as “The Oldest Established Cigarette Card Dealers in the World” and specialised in Ogden`s Guinea Golds – L. J. Tompkins [Surrey] ….

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