The home of the Cartophilic Society of Great Britain

May the first


Can it be a week on from our virtual convention? How time flies. Still at least this is another long weekend as 1 May, of course, is May Day, and that is a Bank Holiday. There seems a bit of confusion as some people believe the holiday to be the first of May and others the first Monday in May – however this year we get both at the same time. And while it is called May Day in most parts of the British Isles it is always referred to as the Early May Bank Holiday in Scotland. And in recent years it has become connected with workers rights, so large trade union marches have often taken place. 
Anyway, the oldest card we have found is D900-230 USA/80a W. Duke Sons & Co. “Holidays” (1890) Un/50 which shows “May Day France”, a young lady hoping to be picked as the Queen of the May in a tradition that dates all the way back to pagan times when the girl was the perfect representation of Flora, goddess of flowers, nature and and Spring. You can see that card at
PictureNow TYP-080, Ty-phoo Tea “Ancient & Annual Customs” (1922) 12/25 shows the maypole in use and tells us that “The festivities of Mayday usually began at midnight on the last day of April. The people hastened to the woods to gather flowers [and] a tall straight tree to act as a maypole [which was] dragged to the village … by as many as twenty of forty yoke of oxen.” It closes by saying that “During the Commonwealth Maypoles were sternly suppressed”. Keen readers of this newsletter will remember that in our earliest British Trade Indices these cards were listed under SUM for Sumners Typhoo Tea, this set being SUM-27. And the “654” on the front is a printers number.

PictureAnother view of a maypole can be seen on this card, SWE-100, issued by Sweetule as part of their 1963 set “Do You Know” 17/25. Sweetule were based in Radcliffe, Manchester, and Wood Green London. Their most popular product were “Junior Service” sweet cigarettes. Our younger readers may find it interesting that in the 1950s the logo on the sweet cigarettes was a smoking sailor. This set was actually not just 25 cards, it was a set of 50, but Sweetule only issued cards 26-50. In fact the full set was only issued by Liam Devlin (confectioners, and makers of Barratt sweets for Eire), and Ovaltine Biscuits. B.T. Ltd (Tea), Cromwells Stores (an Off Licence), and Tonibell (ice cream – who called it “Did You Know”) only issued cards 1-25 whilst Steve Prior (a book seller), like Sweetule, only issued cards 26-50. Ching & Co. of Jersey also issued just 25 cards but I cant find which half. “Do You Know” – if so tell us at This Ching version is unique as they are the only true cigarette cards, the others are all trade. There were also other series, not issued by Sweetule – a first series of 50, issued by Cooper & Co (Tea), with Mister Softee (ice cream) only issuing cards 1-25 and Elkes (biscuits) cards 26-50. Then there was a third series by Baker Wardell (Tea) and Gaycon (Confectionery) and a fourth by Amaran, Glengettie and Ringtons, all teas.
There are another two connections between Maypole and cards.
Maypole Soap and Dye, aka The Maypole Co. issued mechanical novelties and booklets, including one rather gothically called “How to Dye, for Young and Old”.
Whilst Maypole Dairies issued MAY-180 “War Series” a series of 25 cards, in 1915, plus calendars and postcards, including a 1937 one of dancing figures around a maypole; there was one on eBay recently, unsold at £8 plus post. Their fascinating story can be read at – and at – but what neither of these mentions is that Maypole Dairies were also involved in the Red Cross Relief Fund and provided packets of tea to Prisoners of War interned in Germany and the Axis Countries during the Second World War – see


On 2 May two stars were born.
You have almost certainly heard of Norma Talmadge, who appeared in many films. One was called “Smilin` Through”, which is believed to be where the image for this “Cinema Art” postcard came from – and it is even mentioned on the reverse of SO87-150 Sandorides “Cinema Celebrities” (1924) 10/25 where it says she “ a First National Star. Plays chiefly in dramas. “Smilin` Through”, “Voice from the Minaret” and “Within the Law” are her recent successes.”
Voice from the Minaret was released in 1923, it was a seven-reeler, which Miss Talmadge also produced; but despite it being a success at the time, all that is left of it are a couple of still pictures, for the reels of film themselves are lost, which can mean misplaced, but more likely that the nitrate used in their production has eroded them, like so many other silent movies, and they have just disintegrated into dust within their canisters.
However “Smilin` Through is available to watch on YouTube at – all two hours of it – it was also remade ten years later starring Norma Shearer.

PictureThe other star born on this day, Vernon Castle, is someone you may not know, but he often appeared with his sister Irene in musical and dance films; he joined the Royal Flying Corps and was killed in the First World War.  Irene was signed by Pathe, who issued several postcards of her. She also appears on two cigarette cards, the first is the huge set of T525-I00 USA/T85A Tobacco Products Corp Strollers Brand “Movie Stars” (A) (1922) 129/350? – the second is S182-500 T83-1A Schinasi Brothers “Movie Stars” (A) see (though you have to click on a card and keep clicking until you reach her). These were issued with “Egyptian Prettiest Tobacco” and she is 21/50, it is stated that she was “starring in Hodkinson Pictures”, which was set up in late 1917, and closed in 1924, the link is that the company often distributed films through Pathe Exchange. Hodkinson is also interesting as he was one of the major founders of Paramount Pictures, but was forced out of the company in 1916. Returning to Irene Castle, in 1939 a musical was made based on her books, this was called “The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle” and she was an adviser to it. The film starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, as seen here in Mitchell “A Gallery of 1935” 22/50, though this is not from that film; one of the most popular songs in the film, however, was “By the Light of the Silvery Moon”, which was danced to by Fred Astaire, playing Vernon Castle. And you can read all about Vernon Castle in the Royal Flying Corps at and 


PictureOddly both Norma Talmadge and Vernon Castle have a link to our next subject – as he recorded “Smilin’ Through” in 1956 and “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” in 1942 He was born on 3 May, 1903,  in Tacoma, Washington, USA, and a full biography and filmography can be found at According to the text on C151-270 Carreras “Film Favourites” (April 1938) 29/50, he gained his nickname and future stage name by “..constantly shouting “bing-bing” in the youngster`s favourite pastime of slaying imaginary Indians with an imitation pistol…” And MAR-210 Mars “Famous Film Stars” 2/50 also echoes this by saying “A schoolboy in Spokane, Washington, astride a broomstick horse, daily shouted “BING! BING!” louder than any other child in the city as he played his favourite game of cowboys and indians…” There seems some confusion over his name and date of birth as the Mars card cites his name as “Crosbie” and G075-565 Gallaher “Champions of Screen and Stage” (1934) 4/48 says he was born in 1904. According to he appears on 144 cigarette and trade cards. The latest cigarette card, though some collectors dismiss them, is C151-655 Carreras “Turf” “Famous Film Stars” 28/50 which shows him in caricature form in “The Emperor Waltz” – hear the theme song and see stills at And yes, that is Joan Fontaine.


Merlin (1997) ‘Star Wars Trilogy’

Speaking of Emperors, the fourth of May is Star Wars Day. (May the Fourth be with you…. in case you didn’t already know), Star Wars began in 1977, and was immediately a fan favourite, being so different from anything else about at the time. The cards that you are most likely to find on Star Wars are the Topps series; these were sold as “Movie Photo Cards” and were stills from the movie, which came in a wax packet with a piece of bubble gum. There was some tie in with Kenner who made Star Wars toys and models, as they also advertised on the packets. There were five series of Star Wars cards, including stickers on card backs, issued, followed by The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi, which was originally to be called Revenge of the Jedi, before being changed to the gentler word Return. However some advertising items did get away without being recalled, so do look out for them. Also look out for smaller issuers as most retailers did something to do with the film once they realised what a huge success it was becoming. After that there was quite a gap before three more films were made. These were interesting but because they were prequels to the original films they did not star the same actors, whereas I always thought it would have been interesting to start at the start and use the same actors who would have aged into their characters. Since the original films the number of cards on the series has sky rocketed including many special and limited editions – read for an eye opening story!


PictureAnd for another eye opening story how about a world leader killed by wallpaper? On the 5th of May, 1821, Napoleon Bonaparte died in exile on St. Helena, aged just 51 years old, and rumours that he was killed by his wallpaper persist. You can read more about that as yet unproven but compelling theory at Of course the one set that comes immediately to mind is W675-778, Wills “Waterloo” the set which never was, until 1995, when a reproduction set was issued by Card Collectors Society / Imperial Publishing Ltd. It was originally scheduled to be issued in 1916, but at that time France was an ally of ours, and we were fighting the first world war together, so a set showing how we beat them at Waterloo may have not only lost us valuable support, but may indeed have changed the course of the war. In Collecting Cigarette Cards by Dorothy Bagnall she states that “The few sets which escaped the wholesale pulping are eagerly sought after today” and that is probably the truth, though they were printed, the whole lot were simply thrown in a large bin and used as what is known as “pulp”, assorted paper, called rag, which is the starting process for making new paper, or a new set of cards.
Strangely in 1915 John Player did issue a set of “Napoleon”, but perhaps it was the Waterloo connotation that was the deciding blow for Wills. The reason of course for this plethora of Napoleons was that the Battle of Waterloo was in 1815, exactly 100 years before. 
However there is a Waterloo set that is still relatively inexpensive, as well as also being issued by Wills – and that is W675-268 “Soldiers of Waterloo” a set of 30 cards issued with their Castella Cigars in 1995. Castella Cigars were first introduced in 1937 but in 1991 they started issuing sets of 30 large and extra large cards. This first set was Britains Motoring History, which you can also find as postcards, these being issued three years later. Another spin off to look for, especially if you are a cartophilist and a tegestologist, are beer mats – sets of six with selected images taken from card fronts. And if you have never heard the word tegestology, do pay a visit to


PictureOn 6 May 1954 Roger Bannister was the first man to run a mile in under 4 minutes, this was run at the Iffley Road Sports Ground, Oxford, England. He had set the British record for the 1500 metres at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952, and reportedly it was this event which led him to believe he could run the mile in under four minutes. He was paced by fellow athletes Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher. The announcer was Norris McWhirter, who was in charge of the Guinnes Book of World Records at the time. In fact it was only a narrow margin, just six seconds below four minutes. The record was broken just 46 days later by an Australian, John Landy, who Roger Bannister had watched with increasing interest, firmly believing that he would be the first to break the four minute barrier before he had his own chance. In 1969 Roger Bannister was immortalised on the final card of the series of Brooke Bond “Famous People” 50/50. He moved into medical research after his athletic career was over, and he died in 2018.


PictureMay 7, 1915 was the date that the unarmed British passenger ship Lusitania was torpedoed mid water by a German submarine within sight of the coast of Ireland. 1,198 of its 1,924 passengers were killed. This included 114 Americans, and was the main factor which brought America into the First World War, as before that it had remained neutral. You can see three cards of her at  – The centre card is D920-710 J Duncan of Glasgow “Evolution of the Steamship” Un/50 a set which even in 1955 was very scarce complete, The London Cigarette Card Company listing full sets at 30/- as opposed to part sets (47/50) which were available for just 8/6. our card comes from a much later set though, by Topps, this is “Scoops” (A)  (1954) 5/156. Why we have the (A) for adopted title is that the set title does not appear on the card, but in the black border on the bottom of the reverse it says “See Scoop No….” and gives the number of the next card. 


and now for our CARDS OF THE DAY for last week


We are no closer to finding out who issued this card of “Notts Forest”, though we did have a reader contact us who thought it might be a silk – whether it is or not, it is certainly very scarce.

All we know is that it was uploaded to this site in September 2017.
Of course, this card was part of our Virtual Convention long weekend, and it represented the Nottingham one, or the Nottingham three, as we visited three times in 1998, 2006 and 2019. And 2019, unbelievably, was our last physical meeting!

You can still read this piece, at least for the duration of this newsletter, at but then the information will be extracted and added to the proper sections amongst the convention archives



M699-260 [tobacco : UK] J. Millhoff & Co. Ltd “Men of Genius” (1924) 12/25

This company started in 1883 as Drapkin & Millhoff Ltd, but became Millhoff only from 1899. It was bought out by Godfrey Phillips in 1926, who introduced DeRezske in May of that year as a lower priced brand. And after that, it became a branch of the United Kingdom Tobacco Co.

You can read about William Caxton and Caxton Hall at 

Now we did have a reader who thought that the main picture we used on that article was not taken at Caxton Hall, they thought it was before one of the hobby exhibitions. 
Do note that Miss Dorothy Bagnall is using a viewfinder, so she must be looking at 3D cards. 


O100-544 [tobacco : UK] Ogden “Motor Races 1931” (1931) 34/50 

This card shows the 100 Miles Sand Race, in Southport, on May 9. The back text tells us that “Fifty motor-cycles lined up for this very popular event organised by the Southport Club in May 9, 1931”

The winner was J H Carr, on a Brough-Superior; and he also did the Isle of Man T.T. or Tourist Trophy, you can see his results at  We note that in the 1931 Junior class he was second and Ron Harris was sixth.

But before this turns into MCN, our link to Southport can be viewed at


M333-600 : USA/519 [tobacco : OS] Marquis of Lorne Cigarettes (USA) “Portrait of Marquis of Lorne” (A) (1879) 1/1

Not the original of course, but our version. We have had a few readers contact us to say that they also think this was not designed as a commemorative card for the convention – but for our 50th Anniversary event at the Barbican in London. In fact they believe that all invited members attending the luncheon at that event received this special souvenir, a postcard sized copy of “The Marquis of Lorne” card, which at that time was the earliest dated card in existence. This card could well be that. If you have a card, would you let us know what is on the other side? And if you have a spare for sale yours truly would be interested….


VET-1 [trade : UK] Venorlandus “World of Sport – Our Heroes” medium size (1979) 9/48 

These are marked as “Commercial” which means they were sold, not given away with a product, that fact is probably why they only appear in our original British Trade Index, from where we get our starting reference code. These cards have rounded corners, which make them very attractive but also involve another job for the printer and finisher.

This card of George Best is courtesy of “The Card Scene Magazine” whose quite incredible George Best Special Edition will be out any day now. Having seen a few pages in pre production it is a feast indeed and is destined to be a collectable of the future.

Their website has all the details of how to subscribe and receive your copy, before they sell out.


BER-050 [trade : UK] Van Den Berghs Margarine “Countryside Cards” (1968-1971).

I remember these from my youth, they are actually packet issues, they were printed on the carton which enclosed the plastic tub of margarine, and you had to cut them out along the dotted line to make the cards, which is harder than it looks. 

These cards appear under SUIM-2 in our original third British Trade Index – for Summer County, the brand of the margarine. It was a set of seventy cards, issued in fourteen groups of five, all things that you would see on a day trip into the country, including our “Butterflies”, the Red Admiral. I have just realised that out of seventy cards I have picked the only one with even the hint of a military theme….

Van Den Berghs also issued sets of “Pirates” and “This Modern World”, and some of their other brands were Stork, Blue Band, and Spry cooking fat, who issued three sets of recipe cards in the 1950s.


HOU-190 [trade : UK] Van Houten “Chinese Scenes” (A) (1908) Un/7

This card is courtesy of Patrick Marks, who did indeed write the book on these issues.

Many of them are single card advertising cards, and indeed this set has advertising backs. It is a most attractive set.

Here is a short, but sweet article about cocoa cards –


And that, readers, is where we must halt for another week, and have our cocoa before turning in.

Remember if you know of any card related anniversaries just tell us and we will try and incorporate them. Next week our Card of the Day will be “W”, and after that probably a combination of “X,Y, and Z” – so if you have unusual cards, or ones which tell a good story from issuers starting with any of those letters please contact us and we will send you an email for your scans to go to. After that, we are thinking of celebrating themes for a while – so keep watching our front page for news of what we will be covering and what we would like you to supply scans for!


Don’t forget if you missed last week`s newsletter in the hubbub of our virtual convention you can still read it at

And stay tuned for some really amazing breaking news about your website very shortly…..


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