It’s easy to get sucked into pre-war British tobacco cards. There are tons of sets out there and they’re all mostly affordable. As much as I call this a rabbit hole I’ve been very careful in only buying things that are both cheap and especially interesting to me. What this means though is while I try to avoid making “look what I bought” posts,* my pre-war purchases invariably break this rule because they’re so cool I want to post about them.
*Though I did just do one over on SABR.
The latest addition is a set of 1928 Will’s Cigarettes Romance of the Heavens. I don’t even know where I saw these first but I was floored by how beautiful the cards looked. This isn’t just chromolithography, it’s chromolithography at its best with deep saturated colors and fine details.
Just look at these. Most of the set is dominated by yellows and oranges set against the deep blue black skies. The content ranges from depicting celestial objects to explaining phenomena such as the tides and how the moon was formed.
I especially love the “Earth as Seen from Moon” card since it predates Earthrise by 40 years but still knows how awesome and fragile the blue marble view is. I also like how a zeppelin is used to provide some depth to the image. I grew up with the Goodyear Blimp but that was limited to sporting events and not something that was just seen overhead.
Where this set really sings though are in the horizontal cards. Over half the set is like this and the almost-panoramic proportions lend themselves to incredibly dramatic compositions. Halley’s Comet* is the first card in the set and each successive image tries to better it.
*Which last appeared in 1910 so its presence here suggests that interest in the comet survived for a long time.
Jupiter from an unknown, imagined, moon’s surface is straight out of Star Wars. Aurora Borealis* is a splash of red that really pops compared to the cards around it. And the gaping black eclipsed sun gives a surprisingly good impression of what it’s like to see one live.
*At this time of year, at this time of day, in this part of the country, localized entirely within this set!?
The backs look like the rest of the Wills backs I have but I enjoy reading them since I can compare to what I’ve learned about these things. Unlike athletes and celebrities, every subject in the set is one that my kids are still being taught about and that’s pretty cool in and of itself too.