Inside Our Museum – Cigarette Cards c.1917
Cigarette and trade cards were a form of advertising card issued between the 19th century to the present day to promote goods or services. They were often distributed by merchants or enclosed with products such as bread, cigarettes, coffee and chocolate. Cards often bear the sellers or product name and a pictorial representation of the service or product. In other cases the picture may be unrelated to the product.
In 1898 Henry Herbert Wills visited Australia which led to the establishment of W.D. & H.O. Wills (Australia) Ltd. in 1900.
At about the same time as Australia produced its first postage stamp in 1913, the cigarette companies were capitalising on the collecting urge and strengthening customer loyalty with series of cards on a wide range of topics.
Wills’ produced a series of 50 cards on Australian wildflowers, probably in 1913. The cards we have in our museum are those from the second series of the cards that was produced a few years later, this time printed on silk 40 mm x 75 mm, featuring what appear to be the same illustrations of the same species, but with a different number sequence. It has been suggested that silk became cheaper than card due to paper shortages during the First World War.