This week’s column features three legendary sportsmen seen here on rare cigarette cards of yesteryear.
From the collection of my good friend, entrepreneur Lee Graves, we see, left to right, Sidney F. Barnes, one of England’s greatest bowlers of all time who played for Burnley in the Lancashire League in 1900 and 1901. Next is Burnley and England goalkeeper Jerry Dawson who played a huge part in Burnley’s 1920-21 championship winning side.
Right is the battling British boxing title holder Johnny King, who fought locally at Colne’s long-demolished Victoria Arcade.
Cigarette and trade cards are big business and Lee holds the biggest stock of early issues in the country.
His online company “Collectabilia” sends out hundreds of cards both home and abroad every day and his average client’s age is 57, with golf and football cards the most popular.
Indeed it was a “Cope’s Golfers” card from 1900 of the renowned champion golfer Tom Morris that commanded Lee’s highest price for a single cigarette card to date, a staggering £11,000. Lee, whose business began with selling a Brooke Bond tea card set in 2009, has just paid £35,000 for three sets of F. and J. Smith’s “Champions of Sport”, which are rare indeed.
As Lee says it’s all about recapturing your youth; for me when I buy my 1950s Chix Footballer Bubblegum cards I’m back in the school yard 60 years ago, swapping Chix cards with my pal Roy (Granny) Greenwood.