Smoking and card-playing go together like ham and eggs, so it’s logical that makers of  cigars and cigarettes would use decks of playing cards to advertise. As best we know, the practice began with cigars in the 1870‘s when a handful of companies packed decks of cards in boxes of 100 cigars. These early experiments, and a few dozen others associated with cigars are subject to an exhibit seen <here>.

        Although a handful of cigar companies continue this practice to the present day, the greatest number of cigar decks seem to be poker size decks sold or given away during the heart of the Golden Age of Cigars, 1890-1920.

        Decks of cards advertising cigarettes differ in many respects from those advertising cigars: [1] cigarette brands change package designs more often than cigars, the result being [2] decks of playing cards with cigarette ads exist in much greater numbers. Too, cigarette decks tend to be bridge size whereas cigar decks tend to be poker size.

        Almost all the cigarette brands seen here were collected by Darlene Schwein during 30 years of active collecting. They are mostly American cigarettes (with a few foreign cards and a few tobacco additions). The collection is now part of the National Cigar History Museum collection. If you have a deck not seen here, you are invited to contact Tony Hyman so a picture of it can be included. <>.


Cigarette Playing Cards:

The Darlene Schwein Collection

A National Cigar History Museum Exclusive 

© Tony Hyman

Last updated January, 2010

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