It’s In The Details’
|Title||MacDonald’s / British Consols Hockey Joker Cards (C165)|
|Images||Black and White or One-Color Ink
|Number in Set
1920s-1940s MacDonald’s / British Consols Hockey Joker Playing Cards (C165) Overview
British Consols might sound like the name of a company in the UK, but it was actually a cigarette brand produced by the MacDonald Tobacco Company, which was based in Canada.
That company produced a series of advertising cards from the 1920s through the 1940s to promote its British Consols brand. These are believed to have been included in British Consols cigarette packs. A total of 53 advertising cards was created during that time period, presumably every year. This is where it gets a little confusing.
Each advertising card featured a picture of a playing card on it. All 52 cards in a deck were depicted and the advertising card itself included a card number in later years. The trick for consumers was to collect all 53 of the advertising cards. Those cards could then be exchanged for a real deck of playing cards. The number of sets required to obtain a deck of cards increased over the years. In the 1920s, only one set was needed to get the free deck of playing cards. At some point in the 1930s, two sets were required. By the 1940s, four sets were needed.
The American Card Catalog catalogs the playing cards as C165 but states that the categorization covers many different types of playing cards distributed by tobacco companies. While these were distributed by a tobacco company I have listed them on both the game and tobacco pages of this site since they are also playing cards.
The advertising cards generally had four sharp corners, although some of the earlier issues may have had rounded corners. The playing cards that were received in exchange, however, were standard with rounded corners.
Typically, these aren’t cards that would be featured here. The advertising cards mostly didn’t feature sports subjects themselves. However, hockey was included in both some of the advertising sets and the actual playing card decks.
In some of the advertising sets, the Joker card was the 53rd card that needed to be obtained. One of those cards (shown here) shows the picture of the Joker card in the deck that would presumably be received. The Joker card was a picture of a hockey player. This same image was used in the 1920s, the 1930s, and the 1940s. Thus, the advertising card shows a picture of a hockey card.
In addition, an actual Joker card given in the deck of playing cards offered by the company could exist as well. To date I have not seen one and some decks, such as the one given for the 1934-35 issue (which featured a hockey game), included a non-hockey joker cards. How many (if any) of the hockey Joker cards in the playing card decks exist is unknown.
While you might expect the advertising cards to be less common, they are actually found much more easily. And when it comes to finding the actual playing card decks, that is a much more difficult task. Part of that could merely be that not many sets were redeemed. However, it is also possible that these cards are out there, but are merely not identified as the ones that MacDonald gave away.
In addition, consider that these were playing cards. Typically, playing cards don’t have any redeeming characteristics and don’t look all that much different from other playing cards. Thus, they could have merely been thrown away and replaced after being used for a while.
Dating on these is a bit of an unknown. The American Card Catalog states that they began in 1926 but since the C165 classification was used for many sets, the date of the sets given away with the hockey Joker card in it could be different. The earliest of those I have seen was from 1927 with the latest going to 1947.
Number of Cards
The number of cards in a playing deck is also a bit of a mystery.
The advertising cards (such as the one pictured on this page) claims a total of 53 are in each set. That was to include the standard 52 playing cards in a deck as well as a 53rd as a Joker.
However, the American Card Catalog states that there are 54 cards in the set. A 54th card could be an instructions card, an advertisement, or something else. But apparently a full deck was to include one additional card in addition to the 53 mentioned on the advertising cards.
1920s-1940s MacDonald’s / British Consols Hockey Joker Playing Cards (C165) Checklist
A total of 53 playing cards were in each deck offered by the company – 52 standard playing cards with the hockey Joker cards being card No. 53.