1889 Kinney Magic Changing Cards Set and Checklist (N223)

‘It’s In The Details’

Title Kinney Magic Changing Cards (N223)
Year 1889
Size 1 1/2″ x 2 5/8″
Images Sepia
Type 19th Century Tobacco
Number in Set

1889 Kinney Magic Changing Cards Overview

N223 Kinney John Sullivan Boxing.jpgThese odd cards were produced by Kinney Brothers in the late 1800s. They are called all sorts of things but Jefferson Burdick termed this the ‘Magic Changing Cards’ issue in the American Card Catalog when he designated them as N223.

The gist of the cards is that, when held to light, the picture on the front would change into a modified version of the image.

A total of 50 cards are in the set. While it is mostly a non-sports issue, a key sports card is found in it in boxing legend John Sullivan. A few other lesser sports are found in the set but Sullivan is clearly the key card. Sullivan’s image is shown in a portrait format and, when held to the light, his hair appears long in the image.

Each card had a short verse and Sullivan’s is as follows:

Here is a portrait of John L., a mighty man is he
But if he wore his hair cut long, how different he would be
Hold to the light and you will see

Backs of the cards indicate there are 50 in the set and call them “Magic Changing Cards.” Backs also mention that the cards were patented in August 30, 1880 and January 4, 1881. However, these cards are not believed to have been distributed in packs of Kinney cigarettes until 1889.

Cards are significantly thinner than many other 19th century tobacco cards. That leads to them often being found with heavy wear, including creasing or even tearing.

1889 Kinney Magic Changing Cards Checklist

Sports issues have been identified below.

  • I Bet on No. 1 (Horse Racing)
  • Who’ll Win the Race? (Sailing)
  • John Sullivan (Boxing)
  • The Wonderful Shot (Hunting)