Monday, December 24, 2018

Yet Another Collecting Focus

Back in 1996, I accepted a promotion that involved a move from Columbus, OH to Oklahoma City. At the time, my wife had just finished her first year in law school at Ohio State.   Our arrangement was that she would stay behind for her 2L year, then do her last year at the University of Oklahoma.  After she finished, we would move back to Ohio.  Horseback riding lessons were part of the deal of her moving here.  That plan fell apart as, 20 years on, we are still on Oklahoma and own a 17 acre farm were we have 5 horses. Well, "fell apart" probably isn't the right term to use there. "Backfired spectacularly" is probably more appropriate. 

So, why am I telling you this?  Well, while trawling through Ebay one day, I came across a set of horse themed tobacco cards and it made me think that I should look into collecting horse themed trading cards.  In general, they seem reasonably priced relative to their sports themed cousins.  So, off  I went. My first acquisition was a lot of 22 unique cards from the 1933 John Player's "Derby and Grand National Winners" cigarette issue, for about $7 delivered.  I've since added a couple more lots, bringing my total to 40 unique cards out of the 50 card set.

All of the horses featured in this set were thoroughbreds.  One thing that may not be commonly known outside the horsey set, is that many breeds were built with some thoroughbred blood and, indeed, many breed associations still allow out-crosses to thoroughbreds and any off-spring would still be eligible for registration.  So, it occurred to me to see if I could trace the pedigree of our horses (specifically those that were breed registered to horses featured in this Player set.

I will show those results in a follow-up post.  But, let me talk briefly about the set.

The genesis of the John Player & Sons tobacco and cigarette company was a small tobacco factory started in 1820 in the West Lothian region of Scotland. John Player bought the company in 1877 and opened a factory in Nottingham. Player merged with the Imperial Tobacco Company in 1901, but retained it's own brand identity.  Various Player's brand tobacco products are still sold today.

Player's was the first UK company to offer trading cards in their cigarette packages, starting with "Castles and Abbeys" in 1893 and continuing until 1940.  It appears as if they printed approximately 250 different sets during that time.  For more details about their various offerings see

What I am listening to:  Santa Claus is Coming to Town by The Reverend Horton Heat


  1. Love The Reverend Horton Heat... but I love tobacco cards more!

  2. Japan has a good sampling of horse-themed cards. Mainly horse racing. This is a nice set from England for sure!

    1. Interesting. I haven't quite decided how to draw boundaries around this collection. For the most part, I am not a fan of the modern horse racing industry, so I was thinking of limiting it to pre-war sets. But, like my sports card collections, I can envision a post war set catching my fancy. Certainly, international offerings are intriguing.

    2. Totally understand. Lots of rabbit holes you could go down I imagine.