‘It’s In The Details’
|Title||Ogden Tab Cigarettes General Interest|
|Size||1 7/16″ x 2 3/8″
|Images||Black and White
|Number in Set
1901-02 Ogden Tab Cigarettes General Interest Overview
The Ogden Tab Cigarettes General Interest issue was a massive set, believed to contain 1,560 cards spread out over six series (A, B, C, D, E, and F). Dating for the set is from 1901 through 1902 but reports conflict on which series’ were produced in which years. While severely underrated, I believe it is one of the top pre-war tobacco sets of all time.
The cards aren’t as sturdy as other tobacco issues. They aren’t paper thin but a little thinner than other tobacco cards and have a light semi-gloss. While the set includes a large number of non-sports subjects, it has a good number of sports cards, too, from various sports, including boxing, golf, hockey, cycling, soccer, rugby, cricket, and more.
Backs of the cards indicate the total number included in the set. Each series states how many cards are in each one:
- Series A: 150 cards
- Series B: 200 cards
- Series C: 470 cards
- Series D: 200 cards
- Series E: 120 cards
- Series F: 420 cards
One note here is that some backs of Series C indicate there are 200 cards in it while others say 470. However many there are, there are certainly more than 200 as card numbers extend beyond that. Backs of cards numbered above 200 have the mention of 470 in the series.
A couple of notes with regards to the series. First, while they all generally looked the same, the captions and backs differed a little. In addition, some subjects were repeated in different series’.
Cards have distinctive black borders, which helps them to stand out from other tobacco cards of the era, which often used white borders. The Ogden’s Cigarettes name is printed at the bottom (or, in the case of horizontal cards, the side)
The set is popular among boxing fans as numerous boxers are included. But it also contains other sports, including golf, soccer, and hockey, as well as a slew of minor sports, including things like cricket, horse racing, wrestling, cycling, and water polo. The sports are spread out across the series, so it isn’t a matter of limiting one’s focus to any given series to collect only the sports cards. Several rookie cards of athletes are found here, including one of boxing legend James Jeffries.
In addition to boxing, other sports cards in the set are very desirable. The set is also popular for golf collectors. As I recently wrote, three of the earliest, most famous golfers (Harry Vardon, James Braid, and J.H. Taylor) are in the set. Early black cycling star, Major Taylor, who has been introduced to many collectors in a recent television commercial for Hennessy, is also included and his cards can sell for around $50-$100 or more, depending on condition.
Another key in the set is W.G. Grace, who is known as one of the greatest cricketers of all time. Grace’s name is not a big one in the U.S. because the sport hasn’t really developed here on a professional level. However, Grace’s name is certainly known around the world and his cards often sell for good money.
It is important to note that Ogden’s created a separate set with the same design at the same time featuring only boxers. That set is called Heroes of the Ring and, also printed in 1901, is much rarer than the boxing cards from the General Interest issue. Boxers appearing in both sets share most (if not all) of the same images, making them difficult to distinguish from only the fronts.
Like other tobacco cards, you can often find these trimmed. Many collectors, apparently wanting to distance the cards from the tobacco company, removed the Ogden’s Cigarettes name from them.
The set was a multi-sport issue and also contained non-sports subjects, including some animals, actors/actresses, comedians, and other famous subjects.
The hockey card is of interest to many as it is one of the earliest cards from that sport. I have never seen a complete checklist for this set so it is possible additional hockey cards could exist.
The known hockey card has a black and white image features several unnamed players on the ice. It is card No. 72 in Series E.
It should also be noted that while many of the non-sports cards may not be significant to most collectors, some important ones are found. A card of assassinated president William McKinley, for example, exists.
Collectors seeking sports cards should also be aware of what they are buying. For example, card No. 113 in Series B. features a man named George Robey. Robey is pictured on a bicycle and it could be assumed that he was a cyclist. However, Robey was actually a comedian. Other similar cards could exist for other non-sports subjects.
Other General Interest Sets
Finally, collectors should know that at least two other Ogden Tab General Interest sets also exist. The cards have an almost identical look to the 1901-02 set and are often confused with those cards. They are generally cited as having been printed in either 1900 or 1902. But while the cards look similar they were not broken out into series and do not indicate a specific series on the back.
Some cards appear to be part of a set of 120 and indicate that on the back. Those are also numbered. Other cards state they are part of a general interest set but do not have any numbering on them and the backs do not state how many might be in a potential set.
Two scenarios seem to exist. First, it is possible the two sets are entirely unrelated. Another possibility, however, is a scenario similar to what occurred with Series C where a certain number was planned but the set continued to grow with more cards, forcing the printer to alter the backs. It could be possible that the set had planned to include 120 cards but expanded to an unknown number. On cards beyond the initial 120, the backs did not mention a total number as it might have been unclear how many more would be printed in the set.
1901-02 Ogden Tab Cigarettes General Interest Checklist
A complete checklist is unknown.