Jane Austen Cigarette Cards – A Harmlessly Addictive Amusement

Jane Austen cigarette card, Carreras Tobacco (1929)     Jane Austen cigarette card (back), Carerras Tobacco (1929)     Jane Austen cigarette card, Carreras Tobacco (1935)

These cigarette cards are further testament that Jane Austen is everywhere – popping up in the most unlikely places. These examples are from the Carreras Tobacco Company’s issue of  27 ‘Famous Women’ (1929) and fifty ‘Celebrities of British History’ (1935). Jane was indeed in good company. Some of the other notables included the full gambit of British historical celebs: Georgina Duchess of Devonshire, Charlotte Bronte, Lord Byron, Frances Burney, Sir Francis Drake, Lady Hamilton, Sir Walter Raleigh, William Shakespeare, Prince Rupert, Sir Christopher Wren, Samuel Pepys, Lord Nelson, Duke of Wellington, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Florence Nightingale &C. 

Cigarette and tobacco cards were invented by their manufacturers in the late 1870’s to stiffen cigarette packaging and advertise cigarette brands, enticing buyers to continue purchasing in order to collect the entire series. They were discontinued during World War II because of paper rationing, after which they faded from favor, evolving into the baseball cards that we see today. 

The fact that Jane Austen was included as one of the top 50 British celebrities for the Carreras series in 1935 is impressive. The House of Carreras (Carreras Tobacco) was a British manufacturer with a distinguished history of Royal appointments and warrants, established in London in the early nineteenth-century by Spanish nobleman Don Jose Carreras Ferrer, who had relocated to London after fighting in the Peninsular War under the Duke of Wellington (1808-1814). Even before the Hollywoodization of Jane Austen with the MGM movie of Pride and Prejudice in 1940, her image had been printed on thousands of cards and sent around the world under the guise of harmlessly addictive amusement! ;-) This should enlighten anyone who thought she was a recent sensation!

flourish 5

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