1936-39 John Cotton Golf Strokes Set and Checklist

‘It’s In The Details’

Title John Cotton Golf Strokes
Year 1936-39
Size 1 3/8″ x 2 3/4″
Images Black and White
Type Tobacco
Number in Set

1936 John Cotton Golf Strokes Overview

1936 John Cotton Golf Strokes.jpgThis unique set was distributed by John Cotton, Ltd., a tobacco company from Edinburgh in the U.K. Many collectors have been confused by the full checklist of this issue as the cards are somewhat odd. While commonly called one set some collectors refer to these as five different sets.

In all, there are a total of 250 cards in the set. The cards are two-sided and, like a few other sets from the 1920s and 1930s, are really a type of instructional release.

A total of ten types of shots are shown and there are 50 pictures for each shot. The shots were demonstrated by Archie Compston, a professional golfer. Taking 50 pictures times ten types of shots, that would seem to indicate a total of 500 cards in the series. But since the cards are two-sided, there are actually only 250. While one side of a card is part of one of the ten series’, the other side features a picture part of another series. Further adding to the confusion, while often believed to simply be a 1936 issue, the cards were actually distributed over several years.

Each of the five sets included 50 cards but featured only a single shot. To solve the problem of trying to illustrate a shot on a single piece of cardboard, each shot shows a different ‘frame’ of a golf swing so that if you look at them all together, you can see the full shot. Backs of the cards had a corresponding image for a different stroke, so what we’ve got here is 500 different pictures shown front/back on 250 different cards for a total of ten different golf strokes (each stroke included 50 pictures/cards).

Back to back, here were the pairings for the cards:

  • Set 1: Shot A on one side / Shot B on the other – 50 total cards (1936)
  • Set 2: Shot C on one side / Shot D on the other – 50 total cards (1937)
  • Set 3: Shot E on one side / Shot F on the other – 50 total cards (1938)
  • Set 4: Shot G on one side / Shot H on the other – 50 total cards (1939)
  • Set 5: Shot I on one side / Shot J on the other – 50 total cards (1939)

Numbering System

One final note on the pairings of the cards is that the cards on the other side were in reverse order. Each of the 50 cards was given a letter and number combination. For example, the first picture for Shot A was A1. A2 would be the next one showing a slightly different picture in the golf swing, and that would be followed by A3, A4, and so on, all the way through A50.

However, the cards on the backs were in reverse order. So the side with A1 would have B50 on the other side. A2 would have B49, and so on.


The earlier cards from the first three sets are a little easier to find and, as a result, less expensive. However, cards from Set 4 and Set 5 produced in 1939 were apparently printed in low quantities. Individual cards from those sets can sell for hundreds of dollars and are extremely rare.

1936 John Cotton Golf Strokes Checklist

As the cards are not titled, no checklist is presented here. There are 50 cards in each set for a total of 250 cards.

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