Card 7, from the Girl Baseball Players series (N48, Type 1) for Virginia Brights Cigarettes
In 1888, Allen & Ginter began to release cigarette card sets as promotional items for its cigarette brands. Most part of the collection consisting of illustrated cards with a few collections of photographs. Topics varied from birds and wild animals to American Indian chiefs or flags of the world. Allen & Ginter's baseball cards were the first of the tobacco era baseball cards ever produced for distribution on a national level. The most popular and highly sought after of these sets is the N28 and N29 "World's Champions" series, released in 1887.
Allen and Ginter, a tobacco manufacturing company founded in 1865 by John Allen and Lewis Ginter in Richmond, Virginia, created the first cigarette cards for collecting and trading in the United States. The first tobacco company to employ female labor, by 1886 they had 1,100 employees, predominantly girls, who rolled the cigarettes. The Company history ended when in 1880, Allen and Ginter offered a prize for the invention of the machine able to roll cigarettes. Inventor James Albert Bonsack won the prize. But all but one of the large tobacco manufacturers, including Allen and Ginter itself, declined to buy the machine because it was not 100% reliable. James Buchanan Duke did buy the machine invention in 1885 and by 1890 he had consolidated his four major competitors, including Allen & Ginter, and formed the American Tobacco Company. The "Allen & Ginter Company" was no more, but Lewis Ginter sat on the board of the American Tobacco Company.
Trade cards by Allen & GinterAllen and Ginter tobacco company published trading cards in 1888-89. Originally used to provide extra stiffness to a cigarette pack, the cards served as advertisement for various Allen and Ginter tobacco brands.
Allen & GinterFirst collectible cigarette cards in the United States.