Freitag, 16. Dezember 2011

Soap and coffee...

... and cigarette trade cards seem to have been very popular in the early 20th century.

Nowadays comparable merchandise usually depict movie and cartoon characters or athlets, especially during Olympic Games and international football (i.e. soccer) championship. (At least here in Germany.)

But back in the day these showed pictures of  a broad variety of subjects, also of wars. (We know about this at the latest since Baldrick's whole family took up smoking to get the cards with Lord Flasheart during WWI.)
I've collected a couple of those covering the Russo-Japanese War over the last year or two. For me these are great little pieces of history.

First up are four cards of German origin, which I found at a flea market in Hamburg about a year ago (fronts and respective backs):

Standards of the world - Japanese infantry in battle.

Russian dragoons capture a Japanese flag.

The Japanese cruiser Asama in combat.

The retreat of the Russians from the Yalu.
Here's also a shot for size reference with a GBP-Penny, a US$- and an €-1-Cent coin (the four cards above are all pretty much same size):

As you can see, some of these are more of an artistic impression rather than a historical correct depiction.

Next up is a set released by the British cigarette company Wills. Besides the military scenes, these also show scenes of the street lives in Tokyo, St. Petersburg and Port Arthur. There are also portraits of a lot of the important personalities of the war. Exactly the same series of cards (pictures, numbering and descriptions) was also available from the company Lambert and Butler, the only difference being the company's name on the back.

These are really small, even compared to the other ones. (On the back each has a brief description of the shown szene/personality/etc.)

Here are three showing Japanese troops:

Also some more unusual subjects like this one are part of the collection:

(I'm only short of number 51 for a complete set, if somebody has a spare one, please let me know! I also have a couple of duplicates to swap.)

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