Allen & Ginters Tobacco Cards, ca. 1885

Value (2006) | $3,500 Auction$6,500

I've had them for about 30 years. They were given to me from a very nice old man who had them in his family for years, because the boxes are dated 1885. And... they gave them to me for my children to play with. And, of course, I never gave them to my children to play with. I put them in a box and put them away. Years ago you used to get one card in every pack of cigarettes. But I think these cards were before they were ever put in with the cigarettes. Because they're all, like, in mint condition and complete sets.

What you have here is a phenomenal representation of non-sport tobacco cards from the late 19th century. The sports genre cards, baseball players from that time period, are extremely scarce and extremely, extremely valuable. These are done by Allen & Ginter's around 1885, just like you said-- they are dated, many of them.


You know, I don't want to fool you by saying that these are very, very rare or scarce. They're not-- you see these all the time, but you very rarely see them in this condition, in this quantity. And what's really wonderful about this are the original boxes you have here, which by themselves have value, aside from the cards. The first packs that I laid out here, these are just good examples of early chromolithography. The first one is the nearest thing you do have to a sports-related card, and these are horse racing and famous racing champions of the time period.


Beautiful women were always a big feature in the Allen & Ginter's cards, and this is a group called "Parasols." The next one appears to be fruits or vegetables, and each one has a beautiful little girl showing a different fruit.


The next pack over here are gentlemen of the era, showing them smoking. Well, these were done for cigarette packs, so they were promoting the smoking aspect. The last group are not chromolithographs, these are real photos. And what they did very often in that time period, they made photographs of famous stars of the day. Fanny Rice, one of the most famous of the time. Most of the cards are going to be in the same range of value. I mean, you might possibly have some scarcer ones in there, but that really needs a lot of research as far as checking each set to see if there are any cards that were done in less quantity or scarcer. But overall, they're going to kind of average out around the same price. Cards from this... genre, this type of card, can sell in this condition, $10, $15, $20 apiece or more. You have 35 boxes, I believe, in the case, plus a lot of loose cards. At auction, I would not be surprised to see them sell anywhere from $100 to $300 per box. So with 35 boxes, if you add it up, I would say probably you're looking at an auction estimate of between $3,500 and maybe $6,500.

That's wonderful.

Appraisal Details

Philip Weiss Auctions
Lynbrook, NY
Update (2006)
$3,500 Auction$6,500
Appraised value (2006)
$3,500 Auction$10,500
Philadelphia, PA (August 05, 2006)

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