Sports and Games in Many Lands Set
‘It’s In The Details’
|Title||Sports and Games in Many Lands
|Year||1929, 1930, 1935|
|Size||1 3/8″ x 2 5/8″
|Number in Set
Sports and Games in Many Lands Overview
The Sports and Games in Many Lands set was a 25-card issue for a few cigarette manufacturers and features a variety of games and sports being played around the world.
Most of the cards have activities representing countries but a few are for the continent of Africa. Another interesting note regarding locations is a card featuring hunting in Alaska. The location on that card is Alaska as opposed to the U.S. because, at the time, Alaska was only a U.S. territory. It didn’t become a state until 1959.
Speaking of hunting, many of the cards in the set would be considered non-sports issues to a great many collectors. About 1/3 of the cards could be considered hunting cards and would be of little interest to many.
While Churchman is the most common brand you’ll find associated with this set (Churchman’s set was released in 1929), Edwards Ringer and Bigg also distributed these cards in 1935 as did British American Tobacco (often acronymed as BAT) in 1930. They are all the same card just with a different back advertisement name. A rare, fourth type with Spanish text was discovered in 2022 (more on that below).
Cards depict scenes from games and sports around the world with color pictures on the front and a description of the sport on the back. Subjects pictured are mostly generic and mostly, if not entirely, unnamed. Like most other 1930s UK issues, the cards have a white border around the images.
While most of the cards in the set have horizontal pictures, a select few are vertical.
By far and away, the most popular card in the set is the American Baseball card. While it doesn’t specifically name Babe Ruth, most collectors have accepted that it is his picture on the front and it trades/sells as a Ruth card for numerous reasons.
First, there are similar images out there from actual games, which seem to closely mimic this scene. Beyond that, though, Ruth was the biggest star in baseball at the time so using his likeness made sense. An even bigger selling point is that the picture depicts Ruth’s swing and it just looks like him. The uniform worn by the batter, too, looks like the New York Yankees’ classic outfit. Actually, when you put it all together, it’s very difficult to make the case that it’s not Ruth out there. Starting around $75-$100 in lower-grade condition, this is one of the least expensive Ruth cards from his playing days.
While much of the set is made up of games and sports that most U.S. collectors won’t be interested in, there are a couple of other key cards for Americans. First, there’s an American football card – one of the earliest tobacco issues for the sport. Also there is a popular Canadian ice hockey card. Those cards start around $10 each.
In particular, the designation of ‘American’ football is helpful. That is because many cards often depicted similar scenes but, as they were international issues, are often (and almost always correctly) declared as rugby issues.
Interestingly, boxing and soccer are not included in the set. That is interesting because both were huge international sports and soccer, in particular, remains the most popular sport in the world.
American Football and a Reused Image
American football is one of the more desirable cards in the set. But what many collectors do not realize is that the picture in these Sports and Games in Many Lands sets was actually used in an earlier tobacco card set produced more than a decade earlier.
Shown here is the American football card from the 1915-16 Obsequio de Susini set, a large, mostly non-sports issue, that included some sports cards. The image is the same one used to create the football card in the Sports and Games in Many Lands set.
Here’s a closer look at this interesting topic.
In 2022, a unique Spanish variation was found of this set. The cards are a parallel to the English version but include descriptions of the sports in Spanish on the backs instead.
Shown here are backs from the English-based Churchman set as well as one of the backs of the Spanish cards (and a rough, accompanying translation).
Fronts of the cards use the same images from the other sets but have no accompanying sponsor/advertiser name on them. The Spanish cards are reported to be slightly thinner than the standard cards in the other sets.
While it is likely that all of the English variants of the cards were used for the Spanish set (backs of the Spanish cards specify the series includes 25 cards), the ice hockey card has not yet been seen.
Here’s more on the initial find of these cards.
1929 Churchman/Imperial/British American Tobacco Sports and Games in Many Lands Checklist
Below is a full checklist of the cards:
- Mock Combat (Africa)
- Primitive Hunting (Alaska)
- Ice Hockey (Canada)
- Ski-Joring (Canada)
- After the Hunt (Africa)
- Fox Hunting (England)
- Pelota (France)
- Trotting (Germany)
- Shooting Wild Boar (Germany)
- Hurling (Ireland)
- Pig-Sticking (India)
- Polo (India)
- Tiger Hunting (India)
- Dancing (Java)
- Archery (Korea)
- Go-Bang (Korea)
- Skiing (Norway)
- River Craft (Rhodesia)
- Cossack Sword Dancing (Russia)
- Curling (Scotland)
- Bull Fighting (Spain)
- Bobsledding (Switzerland)
- Skating (Switzerland)
- American Football (US)
- Baseball (US)
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