Marquis of Lorne – 140th Anniversary of The Original Trading Card

Every single day all over the world packs and boxes of trading cards are opened.  Its a hobby enjoyed by many.  To some it can be an addiction.  The idea of what could be in that next pack or box can be too tempting to ignore.  If it weren’t for the tobacco industry and their pack inserted cards, there is a good chance this hobby of ours wouldn’t exist.

What is the first pack-inserted tobacco card?

The gentleman who has the honor of being on the first pack-inserted tobacco card is John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland Campbell.  Good luck fitting that name on a jersey.  This dude was into a little bit of everything.  He was well traveled, well educated, and even married Princess Louise, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria.  Titles he held included being the 9th Duke of Argyll, and Marquis of Lorne.

Between 1878-1883 the Marquis of Lorne was serving as the 4th Governor General of Canada.  Quite impressive considering he was a British nobleman.  The Thos. H. Hall cigarette manufacturer of New York at this time decided to include a tobacco card of him in their Marquis of Lorne brand of cigarettes in 1879.  Unfortunately this brand didn’t sell well, and it quickly flamed out.  Very few cards survived.  It measures 3.125″ x 1.625″, the exact size of the cigarette packet.  The American Card Catalog officially classifies it as N519.

As of this writing, only four examples are known to exist.  One is in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Another is in the British Museum in London.  The other two are in private collections.

Only one of the four known examples has popped up for sale.  The same card has been sold twice.  In 1994 it sold for $11,500, and then again in 2009 for $15,275.  I believe it would be worth even more if it were of a sports figure.

I can’t stress how important this tiny piece of cardboard is to the hobby.  Prior to the 1879 N519 Marquis of Lorne card, advertisements such as this were handed out over the counter.  Not inside cigarette packs.  Despite the Marquis of Lorne cigarette brand not making it, the idea of cardboard inserts did.

You probably wouldn’t be opening that box or pack if this card wouldn’t have been printed.  Everything pretty much snowballed from this single card.  Starting in 1880, many more tobacco inserts followed.

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