John Shaw Launches New Cigarette Card Website5th May 2015 by Sam Whiting
Many visitors to the site will have either met or heard of John Shaw, he can be found at most UK card fairs and often dominates one side of the room with his imposing stock of cards which cater for quite literally everyone. I spoke recently with him at the Cheshire Branch and, leaning over albums containing full sets by issuers such as Allen & Ginter, Dukes, Taddy etc. I got an insight into the world of cigarette card dealer and he told me more about taking his business online with his new website – www.cigarettecards.org
Q. What started you collecting?
A. I started collecting about 13 years ago; my son bought a tin of Brooke Bond cards for £2 at a car boot sale, a week later another tin of Brooke Bond, then a set of Player’s Cries of London, I thought, these are great, moreover, it was something we could do together, suffice to say after 3 months my son had lost interest, but I had the “bug”.
Q. At what point did your hobby become a business?
A. It was a gradual process, I was Refrigeration engineer for 35 years and fancied a change, as I began to buy more and more, I found as many do, I had a lot of duplication, having a wife, 2 small children and limited financial resource, the obvious solution was to sell some to finance my hobby, this I did for a few years, then went part time as registered business in 2008, full time in January 2014.
Q. Do you still collect yourself?
A. I remain a collector at heart, but stopped collecting when I registered the business, I could not afford to do both, I still think of all the cards on the tables as my own collection, and I hate letting some go.
Q. Do you have a favourite set?
A. Not one in particular, I love the early printing, the early British and American trade and tobacco cards, the early Liebig, Dutch, French trade cards, it is a quality of the printing that you do not see today. If you browse through my stock you will notice that there are many albums of Victorian trade and tobacco cards and hopefully people will appreciate why I rate them so much.
Q. Given you have a solid base of regular buyers, what’s prompted the move online?
A. Several reasons, not everybody goes to fairs or clubs, I can no longer take all my stock to fairs and clubs, so I hope to reach a far wider audience with a far greater choice. Age also comes into this; the physical aspect becomes increasingly more difficult! So it makes sense in many ways.
Q. What are you plans for the website?
A. At present I have around 400 commonish sets on, this number will be substantially increased, throughout the coming years I will be adding a wider range of material, including types and better sets, definitely a work in progress!!
Q. Where do you think the hobby is going and do you agree with the view we frequently hear that the hobby (as we know it) is dying?
A. Let us be very clear, the hobby is not dead and will not die!!! The hobby is always changing and the internet is a reflection of this. Another interesting point is that there are not the high numbers of collectors we saw in the 1970’s and 1980’s, therefore more common cards are flooding the market and this presents a great opportunity for the new collector – what a time to start the hobby!!!! It has never been so affordable and new people will and are being attracted. I don’t think our beloved hobby will ever die because the hobby is largely thematic, people will always be collecting golf, cricket, football, transport and birds (both types) for example, I often say cigarette cards cover every subject under the sun!!!
Q. What advice would you give to somebody who is considering starting to collect?
A. I suppose, before you start collecting, give some thought as to how and what you want to collect, it may be thematic, by manufacturer etc, a little thought in the beginning is a sensible way to start. Moreover, go to your local club; it is great for buying and selling, your knowledge of the hobby will expand rapidly and you will make (as I have) some great friends.
We are all just as excited as John about this venture and I’m sure you’ll all wish him the best with it. He will still deal at fairs in the UK so anyone wanting advice or to meet him in person can do so readily. If you want to contact John you can at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 01283 480382/07769 032240. He is always happy to talk or help with even the most discerning of wants lists.
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