Reading Time: 2 minutes.
When you grew up, did you collect baseball cards? Football cards? Basketball cards? If you did, did you save your money to buy a pack of cards with bubble gum inside when you went to the store with your mom? You may be showing your age. Sports cards began in the 1860s. A variety of companies included a card with candy and other products as promotional items. Another source of cards was cigarette packs or tobacco products. Some of the most valuable, early cards with photos of baseball stars came in cigarette packages. In the late 1860’s the Peck and Snyder sporting goods company printed baseball cards as advertisements with a player or team on one side and a product promotion on the reverse. They were meant to be traded. The early trade cards covered many themes, not just baseball. Examples were presidents, animals, flowers, etc. Often several cards completed a set on a particular theme. The first nationally distributed cards came from tobacco companies and came packaged with various tobacco products. Many people collected the cards and traded with other collectors to complete a set. Typically, early cards were smaller in size compared to the sports cards of today. The price of a few rare and valuable baseball cards have exceeded $1,000,000. Did you know that collector cards or trading cards extended to the field of safety and health? In Safety, the Bulletin of the American Museum of Safety, there was a report in the February 1916 issue about an exhibit of the 50 card set on First Aid issued by the W.D. and H.O. Wills, Limited, a subsidiary of The Imperial Tobacco Company of the United Kingdom. They were about 2.9 inches high and 1.3 inches wide. There was one card from the series in each package of cigarettes. Each card illustrated a different kind of first aid bandages, slings, improvised stretchers and other first aid treatments. Among other first aid methods, the cards covered dislocations, fractures, sprains, animal bites, wounds from gunshots, burns and foreign bodies in eyes and ears. Each card illustrated a detailed bandage in color on one side and a short instruction on the reverse side. The article noted that at the time of publication, many men who were smokers occupying “the front” in WWI found the cards to be a helpful first aid pocket manual. A few of the cards are presented below along with the associated instructions. Some of the cards are available on the Internet.


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseball_card
  • http://www.cycleback.com/1800s/briefhistory.htm

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