Impulse Buy

I love shopping in used bookstores. This is especially dangerous when traveling since used bookstore purchases have a tendency to be both bulky and heavy.* My most-recent trip to California was no exception to this. At one bookstore I found a copy of Charles Conlon photographs. I’d had the libary’s copy of that book on my shelf for months while I worked on a post for SABR and was very happy to have my own. But it’s another, much smaller purchase that needs blogging.

*Yes I’ve been mistaken for an employee before as I walked around carrying a load of books.

At one bookstore there was a small box of trading cards on the table of photography books. Pre-war tobacco cards actually. Cars, airplanes, soldiers, dogs, fish, etc. from Britain. Priced at 10 for $6. Probably slightly high for what they are. Probably could’ve gotten a deal if I asked to buy all of them. I just wanted to flip through and see if there was $6 worth that caught my eye.

There was.

One of the collections was Kings and Queens of England. It had both the most interesting art as well as a hook beyond being just old trading cards.

The way the card collecting hobby ties into history is probably what I like most about it. Not just the history of collecting but also the way that the subjects of the cards themselves have histories and stories attached to them. Yes I know that the fish and dogs and cars can also have this but for me there’s always going to be something extra-appealling about people.

This set is from 1935 and was put out by Player’s Cigarettes (Trading Card Database has a checklist). I grabbed the selection of Kings that were at the store. A shame that none of the kings from Richard II to Henry VII were available since as a Shakespeare fan those would be fun to have. But the nature of Kings of England is that many of them have pop-culture touchstones.

As an American, Richard I (Robin Hood! though I wish John were also there) and Charles I (Monty Python!) both bring smiles to my face for goofy reasons.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for Charles I) there are no height and weight stats on the backs of these. Instead, underneath the informative blurb about how the backs of these are adhesive, there’s a short biographical paragraph.

The biographies are wonderful and seem to be intentionally negative in pointing out the failings of each King. I love it. I’ve become used to reading sports biographies and the propaganda that portrays all US Presidents as being good people. I want more snark on my card backs.

Am I chasing this set now? No. Would I look in the box again next time I’m in the store? Absolutely.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at, and the web at

8 thoughts on “Impulse Buy”

    1. Yeah I was plenty happy with the price too (heck part of the fun is looking through the whole box). According to the pre-war experts it’s slightly high—not outrageously so just if you’re looking to get into these in a serious fashion you can probably get them for less.

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