American Tobacco Company’s T68 Set a Key Historical Non-Sports Release

Two series’ and 100 cards make up one of the more notable non-sports tobacco releases in the pre-war era

Pre-war non-sports cards are getting hotter — particularly those featuring real historical figures. One set that is repeatedly drawing attention is the American Tobacco Company’s T68 release.

Issued in 1911, the set consists of two series. However, backs of the cards make it clear that this is one big 100-card set as opposed to two different issues. The second series cards state they are numbers 51-100 as opposed to another 1-50 issue. While those card numbers are mentioned, these card do not actually have individual numbers printed on them.

Cards in the first series are called Heroes of History. Two different types of second series cards exist — one is titled Men of History and a second is called Men and Women of History. The Men and Women of History appears on backs of the two females in that series, Queen Elizabeth and Mary Stuart.

Fronts include fantastic color lithographic pictures with bold colors. The images, like those on American Tobacco Company’s baseball cards, have great detail in the faces. The most popular subjects are easily recognizable merely by the artwork but the fronts include names, anyway. Backs include a biography of the subjects and include tobacco ads for a few different brands, including Royal Bengals Little Cigars, Miners Extra, Pan Handle Scrap, and Natural Leaf Scrap. The Natural Leaf is typically viewed as the toughest back.

The cards are not your typical miniature-sized cards like many tobacco issues. Instead, these cards were a bit larger, measuring 2 5/16″ wide by 3 3/8″ tall, making them just a bit smaller than most modern trading cards.

The somewhat large size of this set means that finding it inexpensively is typically difficult. But individual, low-grade cards with common backs are relatively inexpensive and can be found starting around $5-$10 each. Cards with those tougher Natural Leaf backs, however, start around $25-$35 in lesser condition.

What’s In It?

Why is the set so desirable? Primarily its diversity. No, it does not include athletes. But it does include all sorts of non-sports figures including presidents, explorers, world leaders, businessmen, prominent Native Americans, military leaders, authors, and more. The set is a virtual Who’s Who of popular figures over the modern history of the world.

While all of the names in this large tobacco set are significant, as with any set, some stand out more than others.

Among the more important cards are U.S. presidents and the key ones are George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Other important world leaders found in the set include Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Nero, and Julius Caesar.

Beyond those, there are other notables, including Christopher Columbus, Ben Franklin, Geronimo, Generals Grant and Lee, Paul Revere, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Alexander Hamilton, Shakespeare, and more.

Like the card for Hamilton, one card that has gained popularity in recent times is that of P.T. Barnum.

Barnum, owner of the famous traveling circus that bore his name, has few trading cards with his image. While many cards (particularly trade issues and cabinet cards from the 19th century) did picture performers in his shows, Barnum himself does not appear on too many cards. This one has begun to draw interest, partially for that reason.

Two other noteworthy cards are for John Harvard and Elihu Yale, whose money helped to build famous universities Harvard and Yale.

While commons are inexpensive, the bigger names are less so. Cards of Washington, Lincoln, and a few others can start around $25-$35 in decent lower-grade condition.

Notable Women

The set is also known for its prominence of women. That is somewhat interesting given the two names of the sets.

The Heroes of History moniker, of course, covers both genders — as does the Men and Women of History set used for some of the second series cards. However, the second series also has cards with the ‘Men of History’ title on the back, seemingly disregarding the female figures. Someone likely realized that including women in a set named Men of History did not make sense, thus prompting a name update for the female cards.

As specified above, the two females in the second series (Queen Elizabeth and Mary Stuart) have the Men and Women of History backs.

Notable women in the larger, overall set include Queen Elizabeth, Joan of Arc, and Betsy Ross. Ross’ card, it should be noted, has a minor typo with her first name spelled as ‘Betsey.’

Checklist

Here’s a complete checklist of the combined set. Cards 1-50 are in the Heroes of History set and cards 51-100 are the Men of History/Men and Women of History set.

  1. Ethan Allen
  2. Bismarck
  3. Napoleon Bonaparte
  4. Daniel Boone
  5. Li Hung Chang
  6. Christopher Columbus
  7. Peter Cooper
  8. Count De Lesseps
  9. Fernando De Soto
  10. Captain John Erickson
  11. Admiral Farragut
  12. Benjamin Franklin
  13. General John Fremont
  14. Robert Fulton
  15. Garbaldi
  16. Geronimo
  17. William Gladstone
  18. General Ulysses Grant
  19. Nathan Hale
  20. William Harrison
  21. Patrick Henry
  22. Henry Hudson
  23. Joan of Arc
  24. Paul Jones
  25. Kosciusko
  26. Lafayette
  27. General Robert E. Lee
  28. Abraham Lincoln
  29. Samuel F.B. Morse
  30. Daniel O’Connell
  31. William Penn
  32. Oliver Hazard Perry
  33. Zebulon Pike
  34. Molly Pitcher
  35. General Israel Putnam
  36. Sir Walter Raleigh
  37. Paul Revere
  38. Betsy Ross (spelled Betsey)
  39. General Phil Sheridan
  40. General William Sherman
  41. Sitting Bull
  42. Captain (John) Smith
  43. George Stephenson
  44. Count Leo Tolstoi
  45. Count Von Moltke
  46. George Washington
  47. James Watt
  48. Daniel Webster
  49. Duke of Wellington
  50. Eli Whitney
  51. Alexander the Great
  52. Lord Baltimore
  53. P.T. Barnum
  54. Henry Ward Beecher
  55. Edwin Booth
  56. Inspector Byrnes
  57. Julius Caesar
  58. Henry Clay
  59. Hernando Cortez
  60. Davy Crockett
  61. General George Custer
  62. Edward VII of England
  63. Elizabeth of England
  64. Victor Emmanuel
  65. Robert Emmett
  66. Cyrus Field
  67. King George III
  68. Honorable Horace Greeley
  69. Alexander Hamilton
  70. John Harvard
  71. General Havelock
  72. Henry VIII
  73. General Oliver Otis Howard
  74. Elias Howe
  75. Sir Henry Irving
  76. Andrew Jackson
  77. Stonewall Jackson
  78. Thomas Jefferson
  79. Louis XIV
  80. James Monroe
  81. Emperor Nero
  82. Honorable Charles Stewart Parnell
  83. Philip V King of Spain
  84. Wendell Phillips
  85. Francisco Pizarro
  86. Richard III
  87. Cardinal Richelieu
  88. W.T. Sampson
  89. W.S. Schley
  90. General Winfield Scott
  91. William Shakespeare
  92. Captain Miles Standish
  93. Henry Stanley
  94. Captain John Stark
  95. Mary Stuart
  96. Peter Stuyvesant
  97. Honorable Charles Sumner
  98. General Anthony Wayne
  99. Roger Williams
  100. Elihu Yale

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