1934 Hints on Association Football Set among only Chinese Pre-War Tobacco Sports Cards

The 1934 Hints on Association Football release is one of the few pre-war tobacco sports series to be issued in China

A good number of international tobacco card sets from the 1920s and 1930s were instructional’ issues, showing collectors how to play certain sports. For example, there are several sets providing instruction for sports like tennis, golf, and boxing.

In 1934, such a set was created for soccer that was dubbed, “Hints on Association Football.” And while the set was produced by for Player and Sons cigarettes in the UK, a parallel set was also issued in China for British American Tobacco.

The sets are nearly identical but the Chinese set is is important because there are very few pre-war tobacco sports cards that came out of that country. There are, of course, several Japanese Menko card sets in the pre-war era. But Chinese tobacco sports cards are another story. In fact, no other sports card releases come to mind off the top of my head, though I would certainly assume that others do exist — particularly for more minor sports, such as track and field, etc. There are plenty of cards that would feature Chinese athletes from the era. However, I am talking about tobacco cards that were produced/distributed directly in China.

This set includes 48 cards with a variety of action shots. Backs predictably have Chinese text. While I presume it matches up in general with the text on the Player and Sons cards, I have not confirmed that. Backs of the Player cards gave a description with tips and techniques for different actions/plays in soccer. The Chinese print on the back makes for a striking reverse and backs also include a card number, which is helpful.

The Parallel Player and Sons Set

This set is pretty identical to the Player and Sons set issued in the same year. There are some differences, though.

You will note that there is no text on fronts of the Chinese cards — but on this set, there is. The Player’s cards from the UK have their name at the top and a title at the bottom.  Fronts between the two sets have the same images.

The backs are also quite different. Even beyond the language difference, of course, the layout is entirely different, too, including the placement of the name and the bordering box.

Regarding the checklist, the two sets are nearly identical. But there are some small differences with relation to cards included. The Chinese set included only 48 cards while the Player’s set has 50.

There’s one other difference we’ll get to in a bit.

Finally, it should also be noted that the Player and Sons set is not the only parallel issue for this release. The set would be released again in 1961 for Clevendon Confectionery.

Image Changes to Feature Chinese Players

The most interesting difference in the sets is in the images themselves. The pictures are quite similar. But a careful look reveals a fascinating change on them.

The pictures in the British American Set depict Chinese players. That does not sound out of the ordinary for a set produced in China. However, the faces were altered from the UK version, which pictured English-looking faces.

While that strategy makes perfect sense, it is somewhat astonishing to see it actually carried out. That sort of thing wasn’t really done in many other sets. And while it made sense, that the lithographers made such a distinction is a very unique thing. This was an important change that gave the set an obvious Chinese feel. Additionally, the UK set has thicker outlines while the black lines/ink in the Chinese set is a bit muted in comparison.

Shown here are the pictures from the Player’s/UK set and the British American Tobacco/Chinese set.

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