What is “Card World”? And who are The Cartophilic Society of Great Britain?
Put simply, ‘Card World‘ is the title of both the official website and the bi-monthly magazine produced by a research group called The Cartophilic Society of Great Britain.
Cartophily is a 20th Century word, made by combining the French word “Carte” (which means cards) and the Greek word “Philos” (which means love, enjoyment or appreciation). Therefore people who enjoy collecting cards are Cartophilists. These are words which now seem to have fallen out of 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, reference is made to ‘Cartophilistines’. We have never heard this anywhere else!
It is impossible here to pay tribute to all 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 computers or internet to aid in this process!
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; 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 to record for posterity. Yet cards had been issued freely 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 might be useful as 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.
Colonel Charles Lane Bagnall (shown left) had been born in 1884. He was a forgemaster and engineer by trade, but also a Philatelist, heavily involved with organising large stamp exhibitions and events. His personal collections specialised in stamps of The Ukraine and of Papua, for which he received international Philatelic awards. In 1927 he leapt into the dark and founded the London Cigarette Card Company, in a house in Wellesley Road, Chiswick, a company purely for dealing in cigarette cards. Their first “catalogue of prices” was issued in 1929 and, in 1933, they started a regular card collecting magazine called ‘Card Collectors News’. This is still issued today, though the Company is now based in rural Somerset. In 1937 Colonel Bagnall featured in a Pathe News documentary. This fascinating film, beginning with cards being tipped from a box onto a table, can still be viewed at:
Sadly, Charles passed away in 1974 but his legacy still lives on with collectors still benefitting from his research today. His daughter Dorothy Bagnall, (shown above with her father) shared his love of cards, and followed her father into the Company. Her excellent book on “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.
In 1935, the first ever proper “card club”, called The Cameric Cigarette Card Club, was started in London by Arthur Eric Cherry (shown left). 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, as 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:
The Cameric Club lasted right through to the early 1950s, with 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.
The Cartophilic Society of Great Britain had been founded in 1938 by 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 edited the Society magazine “The Cartophilic World”, and all of the early Society reference books, starting with “Un-numbered Series : Cartophilic Handbook Number 1”, the first of many books taken from his extensive collection of cards, and his quite amazing information index system, which would eventually lead to the World Tobacco Issues Index in 1956.
By his death he had the largest cigarette card collection on record, and was recorded as so in The Guinness Book of Records. This was bequeathed to the British Museum after his death in 1995. It is registered as a group under 2006,0201.1. Several biographies of Edward Wharton-Tigar exist online but this one in The Independent reminds me most of him. However probably the best obituary is the one in the NY Times
✍ This article 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 collectors and dealers are slowly disappearing. Here are some notable absences we welcome your thoughts on:
MR BURDICK and his American catalog
MR C H MATTHEWS and the Monograph
TED PRIOR of the Universal Cigarette Card Co.
E.V. POTTER whose lovely illustrated albums formed a great introduction to the world of card collecting for so many of us.
The magazine CIGARETTE CARD REVIEW
A dilemma. Imagine you are, or know a card collector who lives outside the UK, who would be really interested to join us, were it not for the high cost of the overseas subscription? If only there was a way to reduce this cost. And now there is!
Where does the time go! I am writing this in the week before Christmas, and another year has flown by. By the time you get this we will be in to 2020, so I hope you all had a great Christmas and wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
All card and ephemera collectors make a note in your diary now because our next card convention will take place on SATURDAY 25th and SUNDAY 26th APRIL 2020 at FIVE RIVERS LEISURE CENTRE, HULSE ROAD, SALISBURY, WILTSHIRE SP1 3NR ❄️❄️
Anyone want to buy a large cricket collection. Only joking! That is what I wrote on the Saturday afternoon of the 3rd Ashes Test. As you will know, England managed a magnificent 67 all out in their 1st innings, with only Root and Bairstow out to goo