Reviewing the 1910-11 Types of Nations Set (T113)
This 50-card tobacco card set covers the globe and includes a pair of cards for America
As the world started to get more connected in the late 19th century, trading cards were issued depicting people from all around the globe. These cards were first created with trade issues in the late 19th century. Some of those cards depicted people (usually children) from different parts of the world.
That continued in the 20th century. While many of those types of cards originated overseas, a popular American issue was printed in 1910 and or 1911 called the Types of Nations set. Exact dating of the site varies between those two years, depending on the source.
The set is sort of in between the smaller, narrow tobacco cards that most sports collectors know and the larger American Tobacco non-sports cards that were issued around the same time. These full color lithographic cards are sort of at an annoying in between size, measuring roughly 1 5/8″ wide by 2 3/4″ tall. If you keep them in a binder like I do, you’ll need to use the 9-pocket pages for them as they’re too large the smaller tobacco card pages. And unfortunately, in those 9-pocket pages, there’s quite a bit of room left over.
The cards are likely larger because they were packaged primarily with packages of small cigars instead of the more common cigarettes
In terms of what’s here, the set includes portrait headshots of men pictured from around the world. While other sets in a similar mold did feature women, this one does not. Backs the cards include a description of the subject’s country and includes one of a number of tobacco brand advertisements.
The men are pictured wearing traditional clothing for the country or area they are from. And they are literally from all over the globe. The more popular nations, including France, India, China, England, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Russia, Australia, Canada, Egypt, Germany, and others, are all there. Smaller areas are also featured, including Tasmania, South Sea Island, Samoa, and Madagascar. And some places, like Siam, have since been renamed — Siam is now known as Thailand.
The cards are quite affordable. Low-grade cards of most nations start around $5 each and when buying in lots, you can sometimes find them even cheaper.
America … and more America
Unsurprisingly, though, the most sought after cards for American collectors are for the United States and American Indians.
The card for the United States is titled somewhat awkwardly, “U.S. America.” The American Indian card simply bears that title.
The contrast in the two men pictured, of course, is quite stark. The ‘American’ is shown in a suit and hat while smoking a cigarette. The Native American is pictured with traditional clothing and a full headdress. He, too, in the spirit of the set, which was issued by tobacco brands, is pictured smoking.
Both cards, by comparison to the others in the set, seem harder to find. That is particularly true of the American Indian card, which is gobbled up by collectors of Native American cards. These two typically start in the $10-$15 range. For American collectors, the Native American card is typically the one that will cost the most.
The back of the United States cards touts the country as the youngest and richest of the world’s powers. 1909 production of corn, tobacco, coal, petroleum, pig iron, steel, and copper touted, as are wheat, oats, gold, and silver. The end of the card’s description gives a nod to the country’s fight for independence, citing that the wars “have shown that our adopted sons cherish the freedom they enjoy” and that the inhabitants “will fight for their country whenever the need comes.”
Like many tobacco card sets of the era, these cards were printed for a variety of tobacco brands. Essentially, the set would have been created first and then the cards would have been printed with backs of various tobacco brands on the back. One of the key features of this set are those different backs.
While the descriptions are the same, different tobacco brands are printed at the bottom. The variations do not even end there, either, as the brands can be found with an assortment of colors. While this is a 50-card set in theory, a true master set for all of the different backs means there are hundreds of different cards.
The most common backs appear to be the ones with a Recruit Little Cigars label. However, backs featuring a listing of all of the brands are quite common, too.
The rarer backs do command a small premium, just as rarer backs do in the baseball tobacco card sets, like T206. However, the set is not widely as collected and it is much easier to buy cards with rare backs for only small additional premiums. Some sellers, however, are aware of the rarity and will charge significantly more for the tough backs. Tougher back brands include Jack Rose, and Scrap Iron Scrap.
Backs that I have been able to verify are below, though, more could exist:
- Jack Rose
- Scrap Iron Scrap
- Sub Rosa
- Sweet Caporal
- Numerous Brands Listed with Hustler First (often called the Hustler back)
- Numerous Brands Listed with Recruit First (often called the Non-Hustler back, even though Hustler is listed in the middle)
Backs have been observed in a variety of colors, including black, blue brown, gray, green, and red. However, I have not been able to confirm which colors are found with which backs. Additionally, questions surround the gray and brown backs, which some might argue could be due to ink levels and not true color variations. Additionally, a light blue and darker blue color have been observed, though it isn’t known if ink level variances are at play there, too.
Cards with numerous brands listed are a bit deceiving. It might be assumed that cards can be found with advertisements for each of the brands listed but that is not the case.
In addition to the T113 set, the cards were also issued in Canada. Canadian cards, as such, are categorized as C95 and also listed in the American Catalog with that designation.
While those cards have the same fronts, the backs are different. Most importantly, they are anonymous and free of tobacco advertisements at the bottom. They are printed in red ink (though the ink color is sometimes reported as orange instead).
Also importantly, the Canadian cards have card numbers on the back, unlike the American version. The Canadian versions are sometimes simply called Anonymous American cards but that is incorrect. They are often mistaken for the T113 cards simply because many collectors are unfamiliar with them.
Like the multi-brand backs found in the T113 set, these Canadian cards also do not have borders around the text.
While the T113 cards are not numbered, below is a checklist for the set, presented in alphabetical order.
- American Indian
- New Zealand
- Philippine Islands
- South Africa Boer
- South Africa Kaffir
- South Sea Island
- U.S. America