N-Cards (19th Century Tobacco)


Jack Dempsey N28 Boxing Allen and GinterN-Cards are tobacco cards from the 19th Century when trading cards first arrived. In addition to the N-Card designated issues, many releases were printed that were not cataloged. Those issues are listed at the end in alphabetical order. N-Cards are one of two tobacco card types. They represent 19th Century cards while T-Cards are tobacco cards from the 20th Century.

One important distinction regarding Jefferson Burdick and N-Cards is that his American Card Catalog did not classify N-Cards the way that we do today. His book actually catalogued N-Cards as Central and South American tobacco cards. Today, collectors categorize N-Cards as tobacco issues in the 19th Century. That, understandably, has led to some confusion among collectors.

Tobacco cards were popular (and at least one even led to a marriage) but they were also being blamed for causing all sorts of problems related to children collecting them. After a temporary ban on American tobacco cards in the late 1800s, they came back with a bang in the early 1900s with T-Cards.

While some N-Cards are crude in design, many also feature some excellent lithography. Issues such as N28/N29 Allen & Ginter, for example, are considered among the finest trading card sets in terms of the artwork.

Many N-Cards feature color lithography. Some, however, look drastically different. Issues such as the N172 Old Judge baseball card set feature actual sepia-tone photographs that were printed then mounted onto cardboard backing. Many of these types of cards have faded over time, making them difficult to preserve. N-Cards that were similarly produced have a premium placed on them if the images are clear.

Early tobacco cards were incredibly popular with both children and adults. And while ones picturing sports figures were popular, many pictured actresses and unknown women, which were also incredibly popular. Men routinely even pursued women that were pictured on them and at least one relationship that begun as the result of such a pursuit actually ended in a marriage.

Note that this page contains only 19th Century tobacco cards here. Other 19th Century cards appear on other pages and grouped together as similar items.

19th century tobacco cards in America mostly ended in 1897 because a ban on them existed. However, that ban was lifted a few years later, leading to the reintroduction of tobacco issues by the early 1900s. Additionally, no such ban existed in the rest of the world so other international issues were continued without interruption.

Looking to learn more about collecting tobacco cards? Here’s an introduction of sorts that I wrote, which covers their history.


Jack Dempsey N28 Boxing Allen and Ginter
1888 Allen & Ginter
Champions (N28)
N29 Bibby Wrestling
1889 Allen & Ginter
Champions (N29)
1889 Allen & Ginter
Champions (N43)
N31 World's Dudes Boxing
1888 Allen & Ginter
World’s Dudes (N31)
1888/1889 Buchner
Morning Glory Maidens
N150 John Sullivan
1889 Duke
Actors & Actresses (N150)
1888 Duke Comic
Characters (N104)
N79 Histories of Poor Boys Duke Boxing
1888 Duke
Histories of Poor Boys (N79)
N150 John Sullivan
1889 Gail & Ax
Actors & Actresses (N150)
N162 Acton Wrestling
1888 Goodwin Champions
N165 Baseball Goodwin
1889 Goodwin
Games & Sports (N165)
N174 Gypsy Queen Tug Wilson
1887-90 Gypsy Queen (N174)
N332 Hess Peter Jackson
1889 Hess Cigarettes
Athletes & Celebrities (N332)
N184 Dempsey
1887 Kimball Champions
N196 Pretty Athletes Boxing
1890 Kimball
Pretty Athletes (N196)
N223 Kinney John Sullivan Boxing
1889 Kinney
Magic Changing Cards (N223)
N246 Kinney Actress
1890 Kinney Bros Actresses
and Famous People (N246)
N537 Little Rhody Corbett Boxing
1890s Little Rhody
George Young (N537)
N269 09 Jack McAuliffe
1887 Lorillard’s Mechanics
Delight (N269)
N266 Carney vs Mitchell Boxing
1893 Lorillard’s Red Cross
Boxing Positions & Boxers
N310 33 Sullivan Boxing
1890 Mayo Cut Plug
Prizefighters (N310)
N566 Newsboy Cabinet Muldoon Wrestling
1895 Newsboy Cabinets
Obsequio de Susini Bombardier Wells Boxing
1915-16 Obsequio de Susini
N682 N692 Old Fashion Negro Subjects Wrestling Card
1888 Old Fashion
Negro Subjects (N682/N692)
N167 Jem Smith Old Judge Boxing
1886 Old Judge (N167)
N174 Jake Kilrain
1887-90 Old Judge (N174)
John Sullivan N384 N386 Spaulding & Merrick Boxing
1889 Spaulding & Merrick
(N384 / N386)
1886 John Wood Boxing Cabinets
Uncatalogued Cabinets

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