Baseball and Tobacco

In the late-1880s, Allen & Ginter, a Richmond, Virginia tobacco company, began including a small photograph or a colorful hand-painted picture in each cigarette pack to promote the company’s brands. They were printed on cardboard to keep the cigarettes from being crushed. Smokers would save the cards, which were issued in sets such as wild animals, birds, flags of the world, famous actresses, army generals, state governors…and baseball players. These are considered the earliest baseball cards. Collecting and trading baseball cards became a popular hobby in the 20th century, increasingly so with children from the 1930s to the 1960s when gum and candy companies like Bowman, Leaf, and Goudey sold packs of cards with a stick of bubblegum.  In 2003, Topps reprinted a series of baseball cards of players from the turn of the 20th century. But the backs of the cards looked less authentic, because the names of the tobacco companies that had originally produced them had been deleted.