1916/1917 MacRobertson’s / Village Maid / Wills / British American Tobacco Sports of the World Set

‘It’s In The Details’

Title MacRobertson’s / Village Maid / British American Tobacco Sports of the World
Year 1916 and/or 1917
Size 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″
Images Full Color and Two-Color
Type Candy/Caramel and Tobacco
Number in Set

MacRobertson’s / Village Maid / Wills / British American Tobacco Sports of the World Overview

21-baseball.jpg1916-village-maid-baseballsports-of-the-world-baseball-wills-back-1-1917.jpgIn the early 1900s, numerous cigarette companies were featuring different sports and games around the world. One such issue was called Sports of the World and distributed by a number of companies in Australia and the UK, including Village Maid, MacRobertsons, British American Tobacco, and Wills. The set included 50 cards featuring a variety of sports, including baseball, golf, wrestling, and tennis.

As with other sets featuring sports around the world, many in the set are going to be a bit odd to American collectors. Many also include subjects centered around big-game hunting. While the cards are a standard tobacco/candy type issue, at only 2 1/2″ tall, they are a shade smaller than others.

Wills and British American Tobacco were tobacco firms while MacRobertson’s and Village Maid created a variety of candy and chocolate products in Australia. Village Maid is sometimes called a tobacco company but that is not true as they were a confectionery company.

In addition to the number of companies using these cards, there were some variations as well. Some cards were printed with gold foil. Some cards were also printed in full color while others used a more plain two-color printing process with a brown-colored ink (both types are shown here). Here are the different variations of these cards:

  • British American Tobacco – full color and blank back
  • British American Tobacco – two-color and blank back
  • MacRobertson’s Confectionery – two-color and MacRobertson’s ad on back (these are darker in color than the two-color British American Tobacco ones mentioned above)
  • Village Maid Confectionery – full color with Village Maid stamp in gold foil area on back
  • Anonymous or Village Maid Confectionery – full color with no stamp in gold foil area on back
  • Wills Tobacco – full color with Wills ad on back

Three different fronts of the cards were produced as shown here. One is a full-color with the Wills name, another is a full-color with no name (both British American Tobacco and Village Maid), and the third is the two-color (MacRobertson’s and British American Tobacco).


Here are the various backs:

Sports of the World Backs

It is worth noting that at least the Village Maid cards can be found with a purple stamp sometimes on the backs. The stamp reads ‘Presented and Canceled’ and was likely used as part of some sort of redemption program where collectors would present the cards for a prize as was commonly done with other sets.

Here is more information on the various backs.


Believed to be printed in 1916 and/or 1917, there were 50 cards included in the set. To American collectors, the baseball card, pictured here, is the key. It features a generic scene of two teams with a pitcher, batter, catcher, and umpire. It is clearly not just a sandlot game for a few reasons.

First, there’s the matter of the umpire since not all informal games would have that luxury. And not only do the pitcher and catcher have the same uniform, there is also a large crowd in the background. That said, the card appears to be feature only generic players and specific teams are not named.

The baseball description on the backs of others reads as follows:

“Baseball, now looked upon as being the nation game of the U.S.A., is really a glorified development of the old English game of “Rounders.” It is played upon a diamond-shaped field, at the end of which is the “home base,” the other angles being the 1st, 2nd and 3rd bases. A rounded wooden club is used to strike a hard ball.”

MacRobertson’s / Village Maid / Wills / British American Tobacco Sports of the World Checklist

While the card numbers vary among the manufacturers, the same sports were featured. Below is a checklist (in alphabetical order) of the cards in the sets without the card numbers.

  • Alligator Shooting
  • Baseball
  • Bear Hunting
  • Big Game Cheetah Hunting
  • Bison Hunting
  • Boomerang Throwing
  • Bowling
  • Chamois Hunting
  • Coaching
  • Cricket
  • Croquet
  • Discus Throwing
  • Elephant Hunting
  • Emu Hunting
  • Fencing
  • Field Hockey
  • Fishing
  • Flying
  • Fox Hunting
  • Golf
  • Hammer Throwing
  • High Dive
  • Hippopotamus Hunting
  • Javelin Throwing
  • Kangaroo Hunting
  • Lacrosse
  • Lawn Tennis
  • Lion Hunting
  • Motor Racing
  • Polo
  • Punting
  • Rabbit Snaring
  • Rowing
  • Rugby
  • Salmon Fishing
  • Sculling
  • Skating
  • Skiing
  • Surf Boating
  • Swimming
  • Tent Pegging
  • Tiger Hunting
  • Tossing the Caber
  • Tug of War
  • Water Polo
  • Whale Hunting
  • Wild Boar Hunting
  • Wood Chopping
  • Wrestling
  • Yachting

Follow Pre-War Cards on Twitter and also be sure to like our page on Facebook.