1900 Wills's Animals of the World - HOLY GRAIL!

Taliasen

From a pack deep in the north country...
2 (100%)
When I first started researching and collecting vintage cigarette/tobacco wolf cards over six years ago, this was one of the first cards I learned about. The 1900 Wills's Wild Animals of the World set is not really rare. There are maybe a dozen or so cards form the set listed on eBay at any given time. However I have NEVER found the Wolf card from the set available, anywhere, period. The "greenbacks" as they are commonly referred to feature a full color picture of an animal on front and the stylized back was an advertisement for the brand that depicted the brand logo and trademark. There is no text about the animal on front or even a checklist of the cards in the set on the back. Having at least the set checklist on the card backs was very typical for turn of the century non-sport tobacco sets. I only recently learned about the "blackbacks" playing card variations for the set. In addition to the different color of the logo on the back, each card front has a playing card (2 of Spades, 9 of Diamonds etc.) on the front. The cigarette manufacturer not only inserted collectible trading cards in the packs, but literally created probably the first collectible game card! (CGC) So after years of research, expanding my knowledge about vintage pre-war and traditional tobacco cards and sets, numerous emails to museum curators all over Europe and the National Library of Australia, and acquiring the #1 wolf card collection on the PSA registry I FINALLY found the first ever wolf card I starting looking for! This is my "holy grail' of my wolf card collection. As an added bonus I also picked up the much rarer playing card variation in amazing condition! Only collectors may know and appreciate the "thrill of the hunt" and the excitement and satisfaction you feel when you finally complete a set or get that one card you have been searching for. I have better condition and more rare/valuable wolf cards in my collection, but this is the one that started it all, this is the crown jewel of my wolf card collection!
 

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northicehero99

Veteran
4 (100%)
Those are pretty neat, congrats! I know very little about cigarette cards, but when comparing the original version to the playing card version, I noticed that the trademarks are not alike. The original has a star over a somewhat square, whereas the playing card has a star over what appears to be another star. Do you know if there is a reason why the trade marks are 'different'? Also, the paper used for the playing card looks much more modern or more like that which is actually used for playing cards as compared to cigarette trading cards, is it from the same era or newer? Thanks.
 

Taliasen

From a pack deep in the north country...
2 (100%)
Good catch on the slightly different card backs! I think they are intended to be the same but maybe were draw or engraved slightly different. Another theory I found suggests that the playing card card is closer to a traditional playing card deck of the time period. I don’t believe this to be the case though. The company did not make traditional card decks and I doubt they would try to mimic the card deck back of another company. It is probably just a slight unintended variation from a different print run.
Both cards are original tobacco cards from 1900, yes both cards are 120 years old! They are the same card stock and thickness. The playing card variation is just in amazing condition! It looks like it was never played with. It must have been really well taken care of and stored. The corners are sharp and hardly any yellowing compared to the regular version. Again, amazing condition for a 120 year old card!
 

Mike

TP9 | VC15
91 (100%)
Very nice, congrats on the add! I'm like Brian, though, there are quite a few differences in the 2 cards, especially on the back. I'm assuming maybe the black backs were added later on?
 

Taliasen

From a pack deep in the north country...
2 (100%)
Additional research indicated that the playing card variation *may* technically be a 1902 or even 1906 release. Because the same picture of the wolf though, it is commonly listed and graded as a 1900 issue variation. Sharing the same image on multiple card sets or even selling the image to another brand was a quite common practice for the era. I have several examples of cards with slightly different backs or logos on them.
 
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Taliasen

From a pack deep in the north country...
2 (100%)
1900, 1900 playing card and 1922 cards. The Adkins card from 1922 had a very different back with text about wolves. I actually have another card with the same pic of a wolf from 1906 currently at PSA getting graded.
 

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Taliasen

From a pack deep in the north country...
2 (100%)
1922, 1923 and a 1916 currently at psa.
 

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northicehero99

Veteran
4 (100%)
Interesting stuff, thanks for sharing images. I am guessing some of these have dates on the back or how do you know that one is from 1922 vs. 1923 or 1889 vs. 1899? Using the same image does not seem that weird, probably were printed at the same company and just stamped with the advertising of the company marketing the product. I had a bunch of cigarette cards at one point, but I think they were from the 1950s. I will have to see if I can find them. Some of the themes were interesting so I can understand why people collected them.
 

Taliasen

From a pack deep in the north country...
2 (100%)
Most of them do not have any dates. A few of them are not even have the cards numbered within the set! Most of the research was visual comparison against catalogs and folios. I also have pdf scans of specific sets/pages from non-sports price guides and checklists from Australia and the UK. Some of the differences are subtle like a small logo change, while some of the differences are major like entirely different backs and even set renumbering! Brand to brand reusing of the same image happened here in the US, although only after a few year break. It is quite common to see the same image from a 1922 set issued in the US show up on a card from a brand in Australia from 1923
 
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