Thursday, March 12, 2020

Collectibles: Tom Tyler on the A. Batschari Mercedes tobacco cards

Tobacco/cigarette cards bearing images of movie stars are popular among collectors of film memorabilia. Much smaller than the arcade/exhibit cards, tobacco cards were primarily manufactured in Europe. More than a few sets were made in England by cigarette companies like Gallaher and Player, while other tobacco card sets were manufactured in countries like Germany. The origins of a tobacco card with a design on one side dates back to 1875 when a small piece of cardboard was placed behind cigarettes in individually sold packs of cigarettes. The cardboard provided support for the paper package containing the cigarettes. Tobacco companies decided to place a design of some kind on these cards: cars, flowers, buildings, engineering feats – and movie stars.

While Tom Tyler did not appear on any of the English manufactured tobacco cards, he did appear on one card in the German A. Batschari Cigarettenfabrik card set. Made in Baden-Baden, Germany, A. Batschari was founded by August Batscharis in 1834 and manufactured both cigars and cigarettes. In the 1920’s, the company was purchased by the Reemtsma Group. The Mercedes brand of cigarette was produced under the new corporation, yet retained the A. Batschari name on its products. The other brand name, Jazmati, was also used in the making of cigarette cards, and used the same photos and card numbers for both sets, each set containing a total of 168 cards.

The Mercedes tobacco card with Tom on it bears the number 89 and measures 2 1/16” x 3” in size. The photo is sepia in color, and manufactured in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. On the front of the card is a full length portrait of Tom Tyler standing by a wood cabin, with Napoleon the dog (Frankie Darro’s pet in the silent films) sitting at his left. This image has also been seen on a Ross Verlag postcard, and not coincidentally, the photo rights on the cigarette card are also printed Ross Verlag in the lower left corner on the front. Other stars in this set include Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Al Jolson, John Barrymore, and Rudolph Valentino.

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