Most of us are familiar with the concept of collecting baseball cards, but how many would think that at one time folks used to collect various “cards” from cigarette packages? Cigarette companies used them as a form of marketing, much like kids might want to buy a certain type of cereal or a box of Cracker Jacks — for the prize inside.
The “quilt” pictured above is made from leather cards (approx. 2″ x 2.5″) produced by the Murad Company in 1910 as part of their L20 Series of College and University Seals. Alfred University’s was #27 in the set. The AU seal is in the upper part of the quilt, top row, 4th from the left. This quilt was purchased a number of years ago on Ebay and donated to the University Archives.
Different series were produced by a variety of cigarette manufacturers: professional athletes, actresses, nature, heraldry, etc. The cards were generally either paper, silk, or leather. Certainly the silk and leather ones were considered premium.
The Archives has a few additional leather cards as well as couple of the paper ones produced in Murad’s T51 Series. Certainly these cards are now collector’s items and entire catalogs are devoted to listing various series and types produced. Collectors and historians are able to use the images to track historical costumes, logos, etc. Maybe someday the same kind of interest will be found for those who have managed to save their cereal box treasures!.