Cigarette cards were popular from the 1870s through the 1940s, illustrating everything from famous people and places to art and inventions. The most popular were athletes, particularly baseball players.
In 1887, Wills Cigarettes began issuing cards on nearly every subject and continued through at least the 1930s. For typewriter collectors, only one is of any particular interest, a card commemorating John Pratt’s proto-typewriter, which he introduced in 1867 before the London Society of Arts. Labeled anachronistically as “Pratt’s Typewriter” — the inventor called his device a “typewriting machine” — the card features one of two machines he designed.
The card was issued in 1915 in a “Famous Inventions” set.1
The New York Public Library offers downloadable jpegs here.
© 2020, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.
- Broom, John. A History of Cigarette and Trade Cards: The Magic Inside the Packet. United Kingdom, Pen & Sword Books, 2018. [↩]