Card Collecting Remembrances

I am very interested in any remembrances from collectors who collected the old card sets while they were being issued. As I get these remembrances, I will post them to this section of the Movie Card Website.

Alan Stockwell (England)

In 2005, I bought some old movie star cigarette cards from collector Alan Stockwell, who mentioned that he had collected them as a boy in England. I asked him to tell me more about his boyhood collecting experiences and he replied with the following very interesting remembrances about his boyhood card collecting days.

05 August 2005

Hi Troy,

Looking back through my mails I noted that you ask about collecting cigarette cards as a boy. There's not a lot I can tell you really. I was born in 1919 so, when I was a schoolboy, practically all the men smoked. When they had taken their last 'fag', as they were known, out of the packet they just threw the packet down. We kids used to go around picking up these packets and hoping that the card was still in it. My father smoked, as did my uncles, and they all kept the cards for me. Also my father would bring cards home from where he worked for me, he would take them from the packets his work mates discarded. Of course, swopping cards at school was also big business, you could get up to ten cards for one that a kid wanted to complete a set !

I stored all mine in a large box and they were still in that same box when I started selling them off. My daughter found them in the loft of my house and said, "Dad, you really ought to sell these". They had been up there so long that a good many of them had stuck together, because of the gummed backs of the cards, so we had to throw away a good few cards. Even so I managed to sell some 6,000 cards !

Quite amazing how that box of cards seemed to stay around. When I went off to war, in 1939, my mother kept the box in her spare room until I claimed it back again and then, later in life, it ended up in the loft here. Now the cards have gone all over the world and do you know what, the ones that fetched the highest prices was 'Poultry', pictures of chickens !! Go figure !

I've now started on my stamp collection !! Great thing, this Ebay, keeps the old brain active.

You take care now,

James Lawrence (Laurie) Chambers (Australia)

In 2005, Karen Moore from Australia contacted me about obtaining some movie star cards for her uncle. It seems that her uncle, who was 84 years old in 2005, had collected these as a boy and was missing a few cards from the Carreras Personality Series - Film Stars set (issued in 1933) that he had assembled way back then. I was able to supply him with the missing cards to complete his set, and I asked about his boyhood cigarette card collecting experiences. Karen discussed this with him and wrote me an interesting note about his collecting experiences.

13 December 2005

Hi Troy,

My Uncle is reluctant to write down his reflections - I think he feels he is not talented enough with the pen. So I spoke to him about how he collected the cards. Neither of his parents smoked cigarettes, although his father smoked a pipe and he walked to the tobacconist with him.

Apparently the way that he collected the cards (and according to Uncle Laurie, the way that most of the kids collected the cards), was to "hang around the tobacconist" and ask the fellows as they left the shop if they could have the card. Also he reminded me that, in those days generally people had cigarette cases so they emptied the soft packets into their cases as they left the shop and, most it seems, threw the empty packets on the ground. So he said that he always checked the packets lying around to see if they had cards in them. Isn't it an interesting reflection on those times?

He was able to collect a shoe box full of cards that way over a period of time. When he was 12 his father died and his mother was taken in by a sister who could only give them one room between them. So Laurie, His mother and brother had to "fit" in one room. His mother told him that most of his things would need to be thrown out. Apparently while he was away from home one day she "got rid" of his cards without warning him. He said that he had a few sets in a different spot to the shoe box, so they are what he has now. You would also be interested to know that the cards that he had missing were taken by his mother and stuck on a calendar.

I hope this has given you a small insight into the collecting of cards at the time of their production.


Jari Rannikko (Finland)

28 December 2006

Collecting chewing gum cards is again quite popular in Finland. About 150 active collectors. Of course collecting gum cards was even more popular in 50’s 60’s and 70’s when almost every boy collected them.

Total amount of different chewing gum cards that were sold in Finland is about 25,000.

Collectors are mostly men age 40-60. It is some kind of nostalgia to try to improve the unfinished collections one has collected as child. I for example “found” my childhood cards a year ago in my parents house. There were about 800 cards, collected in 60’s and 70’s and now, one year later I own over 7000 cards.

I am 49 now. I have found it very satisfying beginning to collect those cards again after 35 years. It is my favourite hobby now and I have got many new friends, pen-pals. We trade cards, send letters, email and phone.

I have found out that gum card collectors are very honest people, mostly middle-aged men who try to complete their childhood dream of getting all cards. Some try to buy all at once in big amounts and some little by little.

Mikael Hoffsten (Sweden)

10 January 2007

I was born in Southern Sweden in 1964. Durings the late 60s it was still very popular to collect chewing gum cards, even if the interest had decreased since the 50s. I got my first cards when I was about five years old - those cards are still in my collection!

Most popular among boys at this time was to collect cards with western themes. In Sweden western movies and television programs were very popular - High Chaparral and Bonanza were running on the television. (Later at the end of the 70s "the Macahans" was perhaps even more popular). The latest figure about how many cards that were issued/sold in Sweden is about 18,000 (this includes only dutch gum cards).

I collected cards for a few years and then put the collection aside. About two years ago I found that my oldest boy (I have two - Jakob 8 years old and Gabriel 5˝ years old) had too many of those Pokemon cards to handle them. I helped him to organize them and then I remembered my own collection and started to collect again. My main interest is with cards with western themes but I also collect cards from a few other sets as well. I now have about 2,500 cards with western themes and perhaps another 1,000 cards with other themes. Both my boys like the old cards and have rather big collections of their own.

I live in the capital of Sweden - Stockholm - and this has made it easier to find new cards. I have met some of the biggest collectors in Sweden and we have traded some cards.

The most valuable card in Sweden is a card of Marilyn Monroe and is from the set FA (number 60). For a fine card you must pay around $250-300. Also some Elvis Presley cards have a high value.

The interest in collecting these cards has become more popular in recent years and I think many of the collectors are about my age.

Andy Ramsubhag (Trinidad and Tobago)

28 April 2008

I am from Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean) and have been collecting the cards printed in Holland (Dutch Gum Cards) since I was about seven years old. My four older brothers collected them before. They were sold in stores for 10 cents a pack back then. This was in the mid seventies and everybody was collecting them. Then all of a sudden they were gone. For years I tried to find them and was unable to. As a kid I used to play with them quite often and over the years they have gotten old. I remember when watching the western movies I could actually see the parts these cards were taken from. Seeing them on the internet again brought back some childhood memories. I never had a complete set and always wanted to. I introduced these cards to my ten year old son and he wants to collect them.

My father was a big movie fan and he would go to the movies quite often. Growing up in a small country, well there wasn’t much to do at that time. I was introduced to those classic actors through him telling me about the movies that he saw. Westerns were always my favorite movies to watch. I have a DVD & VHS collection of some of my favorite ones. By watching these westerns, I became familiar with the actors so when I saw these cards that my four older brothers were collecting, well I got hooked on them. As soon as I got my allowance (25 cents) I would run to the store to buy two packs. There was a lot of excitement before opening those packs. I was always hoping to get the ones I didn’t have. I only wished that I had kept some of them sealed.

My four older brothers started collecting these cards in the late fifties or early sixties. We had no name for the cards back then and since they were taken from westerns, we simply called them Texas. They were so popular back then that everybody was collecting these cards. When my friends and cousins got together we would look at each other's collections. We would exchange for the ones we didn’t have. We would talk about these cards for hours. I remember a Marlon Brando card was really hard to find. You could have gotten about twenty cards just for his card alone.

We even would make up games with them. We would shuffle our cards together just like regular cards and while they are turned backwards. We would flip to see which is higher. The person who pulls the higher card would win the game. That game would go on for hours. Another game we use to play was called turned down. We would pick three cards out of our stack but show only one to the person who is playing against you. Without touching the card you could look for as long as you like and when ready, we would put the three cards behind our back and sort of mix them up to confuse the other player. We would then place the three cards in front of the player face down. After making his bet he would point at the card that the player thinks is the right one. My favorite game was face up. Two players would have one card in the palm of their hand. Then they both would slap their hands high up together like a high five and then let go. The person whose card is face up when falls to the ground is the winner. There was a lot of cheating in this game. Some players would stick the same cards back to back so when it falls it would always be face up. That card was called a double Decker. So you had to be careful who you were playing with. Around 1978 these cards completely disappeared from stores.

I am now living in the USA. Here are some of the series that I still have with me in the US.

Series C
Series T
Series W

These are some of my favorites:

1) Audie Murphy – My favorite western actor
2) Glenn Ford – Never had his card
3) James Stewart
4) Gary Cooper
5) John Wayne
6) Doug McClure
7) Clint Eastwood – Never had his card
8) Rory Calhoun
9) Randolph Scott
10) Jeff Chandler
11) Ricky Nelson
12) Tab Hunter
13) Jeffrey Hunter – Never had his card
14) Henry Fonda
15) Dean Martin
16) Kirk Douglas
17) Anthony Quinn – Never had his card
18) Burt Lancaster
19) Rod Taylor – Never had his card
20) Rod Cameron
21) Dan Duryea

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