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Hello my name is Gabrielle and I'm your commodity consultant for today.
Thanks so much for your question- the answer with regard to collecting cigarette cards is, in simple, yes, both historically and today.
Cigarette cards found in cigarette packets began to emerge in popular culture and society in the 1870’s; their peak period being between then and the 1940’s. They were used to capture the “explosion into the 20th Century” of achievements from cars, to flight events to nuclear weaponry. Their purpose was to be collected, containing designs from artists like William Hogarth (see here http://www.card-world.co.uk/collect/). The cards themselves were used to “project and represent images and messages of democracy” (http://www.ebay.co.uk/gds/Cigarette-Card-Collecting-Guide-History-and-Grading-/10000000000792790/g.html). According to the guide, they were a particularly popular collection and past time because at the time, lots of people couldn’t afford or have access to books- they offered a way to see different cultures, places and new and exciting animals (source: http://www.card-world.co.uk/collect/).
Today, these cigarette cards are indeed still collected, as collectable vintage objects. They are both sold and traded in their own rights, as ‘cards’, rather than as a by-product of buying cigarettes stored throughout museums and in personal collections. You can find the ‘collectible’ valuation criteria below…
Mint: Exactly as issued.
Excellent: Clean back and front, including edges, sharp edges and sharp corners.
Very Good: Clean back and front, may have dirty and softened edges and rounded corners. No creases.
Good: Soiled on back or front. Blemished edges, rounded corners and one crease.
Fair: Creased, dirty or with mount damage to backs and possibly some picture surface missing.
Poor: Badly creased, dirty or with mount damage to backs and surface damage on backs and fronts.
There’s collective cigarette card newspapers, and clubs and you can even join a cigarette card society here… http://www.cigarettecards.co.uk/ or http://www.warwickandwarwick.com/valuations/cigarette-card-valuations. Warwick and Warwick claim to be an internationally reputable cigarette card traders and validation experts, illustrating that yes, cigarette cards certainly are collected.
The modern day collective card industry has also expanded to represent and display images of today; like pictures from films, television shows and sport. Pokemon cards dominate school playgrounds. Perhaps one day these cards, just like your cigarette card, will become represent a vintage upsurge or collectable!
You can find out more about cigarette cards themselves, or see examples of them here… http://cigarettecardinserts.co.uk/story.htm
Thanks for your question!