Snooker and Billiards related Cigarette
a brief introductory guide
I have gathered together a few examples of the
variety of cigarette cards that are commonly available, these cards are of
course related to both Billiards and Snooker collecting.
This is not a comprehensive guide but it is a
well-intentioned starting point for anyone interested in collecting cigarette
cards that relate to Billiards and Snooker, who as yet have not been lucky
enough to have seen some of the designs and specific types of card that come up
from time to time.
I have striven for variety rather than simply
buying full sets from a dealer, the reason for this is to prolong and enhance
the collecting experience, as you will see, many Billiards cards are from sets
of cards that cover other fields of endeavour from acting to just about any
sporting pastime that you can think of.
The first cards that I would like to talk about
are the Wills John Roberts series; this set comprises fifty cards, all showing
specific Billiard shots shown in colour on the front of the card, also included
is a description of how to play each shot on the reverse of the cards. They are
a nice set and well worth getting hold of. This series was produced in 1909 and
so is becoming quite scarce these days. I only have six from the set at the
moment but am on the lookout for a few odds, should you know where I can get
hold of them.
Please feel free to e-mail with a list and
pictures of any surplus Snooker and Billiards related cigarette cards that you
have, please note that they must be in good condition if they are to be added
to the Cues n Views collection. I particularly enjoy photo or individual
portrait cards, but will consider part sets of Wills, Ogdens or those from the
Walter Lindrum series. I will feature such cards on Cues n Views in the future,
once I have added them to the colledtion.
In 1928 a similar set was made, this time
featuring the skills of Tom Newman who at the time was world Billiards
champion. This set features the innovation of a close up of the cueball with a
cross on its surface that indicates where the cue should strike it to achieve
the shot displayed. The inset also often features a representation of the ball
to ball contact required using a second ball with the cueball overlapping it
thus indicating potting angles or safety contacts that are required. Being a
Tom Newman fan, I like this set very much, some of the shots depicted relate to
Snooker, this shows how much the popularity of the 22 ball game had increased
in those few years. I have all of this set, except for number six, I am hopeful
of completing it in the next few months. Again if you have a duplicate number
six, please let me know, I would definitely like to add it to the forty-nine
that I currently own. These cards in good condition usually retail for a pound
or so, I of course will pay double this figure for a good example to complete
One of my favourite cards is the card of Tom
Newman by Turf Cigarettes. This card must have appeared in 1922 or 1923 as it
contains a reference to Tom Newmans break of 1,274; this break was
superseded in 1924 with his break of 1370, the largest break ever made in
competition with Ivories. The likeness on the front of the card is colourful
and attractive but does not look much like Mr Newman himself, as it is rather
flattering on the positive side, I really admire the way that the artist has
drawn the faces of the spectators, each one is an individual portrait rather
than an indistinct background montage of images, perhaps these faces belong to
friends of Mr Newman or the artist himself. I feel sure that the rest of the
set would feature other Billiard playing sportsmen, if there were any other
Billiard related cards that you know of in this set, please let me know.
In 1927 Lambert and Butler produced a series of
photo cards in glorious living monochrome. This series featured top sportsmen
and possibly women of the era. The set included several top Billiard players.
The two that I have are William (Willie) Smith and Tom Reece. These
cards are a real treat as they are well photographed and carry interesting and
informative text on the reverse. I am unsure about the other Billiard players
in the set but would like to know more, should you be able to tell me anything.
I would be surprised if Joe Davis was not included in the set as well as
perhaps Messrs Newman, Inman and Lindrum.
Park Drive also included several Billiard
exponents in their 'Champions series; this set comprised 48 cards. It
features paintings in miniature; they were in colour and gave a flavour of how
the players themselves must have looked while in play. My cards feature Sidney
Lee, Joe Davis and Walter Lindrum, I have a double of Walter in case anyone
wishes a swap, perhaps for one of the missing cards that I have mentioned
during this small piece.
The full set comprises 48 pieces, most of which
are from other sports, again I am unsure how many Billiard player cards exist,
so advice would be well received. Incidentally, the Joe Davis card that I have
is from the second set of 48, which were issued due to the popularity of the
first batch, I assume.
I am reliably informed that series one appeared
Ogdens returned to supplying Billiards
related cigarette cards with the A Newman-Mond Trick Billiards series. This set
comprises many of the trick shots in diagram form along with a detailed
description on the reverse. The set is of fifty shots with colourful images as
well as inset sections for clarification of how each shot is to be played. Mr
Newman-Mond was a trick shot and entertainment specialist who wrote a small
book, which contained the same shots, of which I have a copy. I was interested
to note that Mr Newman-Mond was an early exponent of the use of little
cardboard tubes in his routines. I have 23 of the fifty at the moment and so of
course wish to acquire the rest in due course. These cards first appeared in
Two other cards that I have acquired are from
the W A & A C Churchman series of fifty. These cards are caricatures of
Men of the Moment in Sport by an artist who is signed as Mel. They
are humorous, but contain a nicely written information piece on the reverse. I
have a larger Joe Davis card that could have come in a packet of cigars
perhaps. I dont know which other Billiards related celebrities were
featured but would be surprised if Walter Lindrum was not featured in this
series of larger cards.
Churchman also produced a series of fifty cards
entitled, sporting Celebrities number nine featured a caricature of
Walter Lindrum and must have appeared between 1929 and 1932, as the break that
it mentions as Lindrums current best was under 4,137, which he made in
1932. I like this card a lot as the picture is colourful and uses the table
light to good effect.
Carreras fine quality cigarettes produced a set
of 72 cards entitled Popular Personalities. These cards were
unusual as they were oval in shape and featured photographs that appear to have
been cut to shape, by hand. The two that I have are Tom Newman and Walter
Lindrum. These cards are numbered 66 and 67 respectively. Once again I feel
sure that other Billiards exponents would have been included in this series,
but as yet have not come across them.
I have two cards from the 'Whos Who in
Sport' series produced by Lambert and Butler. These were produced in 1927 I
believe, as this was the Year that Mr Earlam retired from the amateur ranks.
They are the cards featuring photographs of Tom Newman and J Earlam who had
just recently turned professional. Interestingly these cards also appeared as a
British American Tobacco item, I have duplicate Billiard players from this set
but as the facing illustration is the same, see little need in showing the
I have four of a set of fifty specific
instructional cards from Willie Smith under the heading of Foursome
Cigarettes also known as Robert Sinclair Tobacco Ltd. The series is
imaginatively entitled 'Billiards'. What I do like about them is their design
and their undoubted exclusivity and the quality of their production. Each card
is totally different to the others as it has a title bar at the bottom
describing the shot that is being demonstrated in the illustration. I currently
have 5, 7, 10 and 12. This set, I believe appeared in 1928.
R and J Hill produced a set of cigarette cards
entitled Celebrities of Sport, the whole set was fifty, I have Tom
Newman and Joe Davis. These are numbers 25 and 37. They are rather attractive
colourised photographs of two of the mid 1920s top players. As I have not
seen the whole set I remain unsure about which other cueists might have been
In 1936 Gallagher produced a series called
sporting Personalities, I have two, one is Melbourne Inman and the
other is the sporting cartoonist Tom Webster. The full set comprises 48 cards
from a variety of sports.
Ogdens once again returned to Billiards
and Snooker in their series 'Champions of 1936'; the cards from this set that I
currently own are of Joseph Thompson. Mr Thompson was the amateur Billiards
champion in 1936 and soon turned professional. He retired from professional
competition a few years later and so he never really broke through to the top
level. I am expecting delivery of two other 'Champions of 1936' this week so
more to follow! I also have the Joe Davis card and the card featuring Pat H
Matthews, British amateur Snooker champion of 1936. This group of cards first
appeared in 1937. The complete set of cards features champions from a plethora
of sporting events that would have been of interest to the smoker of the time,
and perhaps little boys everywhere. Take care with this set as a reproduction
set appeared in 2001, so if you want to buy originals, make sure that you are
as informed as possible before you part your cash.
One of the most recent cards that I have is a
card featuring Joe Davis from Top Flight Cigarettes; it is from a
set of 25 and is number 8. This is a beautiful card featuring a review of
Joes career and makes reference to his 147 break; this puts its issue
date at1960. This is possibly my favourite Joe Davis card of those I have yet
seen. The colour scheme and the way that the picture is set out are both very
pleasing to the eye in fact the card has a mixed style, a kind of retro modern
quality that sets it apart from many other cards of the type.
Finally I have four larger photo cards of Joyce
Gardner, Walter Lindrum, Horace Lindrum and a little known Snooker personality
called Joe Davies. As we all know the correct spelling is Joe Davis, the
spelling on the card, both front and rear is in error. These cards were
produced by Senior Service to mark famous sporting events and stars. The full
set is 96; it seems a pity that a hundred could not be found. Again I am unsure
which Snooker and Billiards personalities featured, but like the set, as they
are a little larger than other cigarette card sets. This series appeared in
1939 and probably provided a little light relief during the war years.
I have enjoyed collecting these cards and added
to my collection with a complete reproduction set of the Salmon and Gluickstein
decorative caricature billiard room series.
These cards are quite humorous as well as
decorative as they feature scenes that incorporate commonly used Billiards
phrases along with Victorian style illustrations reflecting the term in
question. I recently had this set framed, they look tremendous with a border,
all I need now is the period Billiard room to go long with them.
If you can add any information to this short
piece on collectable Billiards and Snooker cigarette cards, please feel free to
do so by e-mail. I have asked several leading names in the field to contribute
to the Cues n Views web site in this area, but have not received anything to
pass on to you to date.
I hope that my incomplete work peaks your
interest and reveals to you something of this additional strand to Billiards
and Snooker collecting. If you have any cards to sell please feel free to make
contact, likewise if you have some to swap. I understand that in 1902 Ogden:
Citys produced a card featuring Edward Diggle and the player from my
hometown of Huddersfield: Charles Dawson. As yet I have not come across an
example but am on the lookout.
I have been informed that nearly 700 individual
Billiards, Snooker and Pool cigarette cards exist, so I am sure that there is
scope for further articles in the future. I will of course expand this section
in the coming months, including any new cards that I manage to acquire.
So good hunting and if you decide to get hold of
a few cards and wish to write an addition to this section of the Cues n Views
web site, feel free to make contact, I am well aware that many of you are
expert in areas of collecting that are just becoming accessible to me.
In closing; a friend of mine thinks that I must
be a little strange as rather than buy complete sets of the more commonly
available cards, I have persisted in trying to acquire them in dribs and drabs.
My problem is that I am a collector of the old-school; I dont always like
someone else to do all the leg work for me. I have seen sets of A Newman-Mond
cards go for as little as £36 but have shied away from them. Perhaps my
way is a little eccentric but arent we all a little quirky where our
collecting habits are concerned?