Cigarette cards - jockeys

Cigarette cards were designed from the beginning to be collected, perhaps becoming more addictive than the product itself! Like post cards and trade cards, they are highly collectable and can fetch a small fortune on the open market.

The cigarette card began its evolution in the USA in the early 1880s as a plain piece of cardboard used as a ‘stiffener’ by tobacconists to protect cigarettes in their packets. It did not take long for an enterprising entrepreneur to recognise the advertising potential of the cigarette card, and very soon the cards began displaying popular images. They featured subjects thought to appeal to male smokers, such as glamorous actresses and sporting champions.

Tobacco firms realised they could strengthen customer loyalty by issuing 'collectable' sets of beautifully illustrated and informative cards during the early 1900s. Taking advantage of the popularity of horse racing, they produced sets featuring well-known jockeys and race horses. Tobacco companies producing the cards included Ogdens Ltd., Godfrey Phillips, J. J. Schuh Tobacco Co., and Melbourne manufacturer Sniders & Abrahams Tobacco Australia.

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Above is a selection of striking images from a series of cigarette cards featuring leading Australian jockeys, from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of the jockeys include:

Tom Clayton who became the first jockey to win the Caulfield Cup - Melbourne Cup double with Poseidon in 1906, and then became the first jockey to win consecutive Caulfield Cups with Poseidon again in 1907.

William H. McLachlan was an eminently successful jockey with a remarkable run of success in Cup races. He won the Melbourne Cup three times, scoring on Westcourt 1917, Comedy King 1910, and Prince Foote 1909.

George Meddick was a well known Sydney jockey, who won the Melbourne Cup on Kingsburgh 1914 and the Sydney Cup on Prince Bardolph 1916.

Ken Bracken was said to be one of the most accomplished horsemen in Australia and a great rider in weight-for-age races. Bracken rode Poitrel to victory in the Melbourne Cup, 1920.

> See more images from this series of cigarette cards, via the Library's online catalogue catalogue link

> View another collection of cigarette cards featuring Australian jockeys, via the Library's online catalogue catalogue link