Are Cigarette Cards Collectable?

Are Cigarette Cards Collectable?

23rd April 2024

Are cigarette cards collectable?

The short answer is yes. There is still a thriving collectors market for cigarette cards, however the are fewer collectors now than there were at the hobbies peak.

The first cigarette cards were produced in the United States in the early 1870’s by Allen & Ginter with companies such as Goodwin & Co. and Duke following suit soon after. These early cards featured National flags, wildlife, actors and actresses and Baseball players and they remain popular with collectors today.

Cigarette cards first appeared in the UK in 1887 with W.D. & H.O. Wills introducing advertising cards in packets of cigarettes. Between 1893 and 1896 Wills along with John Player and Ogdens cigarettes produced the first general interest sets featuring “Castles and Abbeys”, “Sailors and Ships” and “Cricketers” among others. Other countries followed suit with well-known brands coming appearing in China, India, Europe and Sout America.

Cigarette cards were included in packets until the 1940’s with manufacturers such as Wills, Players, Gallaher, Churchman and Carreras being among the more prolific producers.

Trade cards are also highly collectable. These are essentially any non-tobacco related collectable cards and they have been issued with bubble-gum, tea and magazines. Among the most popular are baseball cards, which hold most of the records for most expensive cards ever sold, but also Pokemon, Magic cards, Ice-Hockey and Football cards.

How to value cigarette cards

We are often asked “what are my cigarette cards worth?”. The collectability and value of cigarette cards depends on the desirability, rarity and condition of the cards. Our valuers here at Griffin’s Auctioneers and Valuers have many years experience and are happy to offer advice on anything from single cards to lifetime collections. We can offer a free, no obligation auction valuations and can also help with probate or insurance valuations. You can contact Ben Griffin on 01926 505012 or at

W. Meredith "At work" Sold for £5,600 in April 2023.
W. Meredith "Meredith at work" card sold in our April 2023 Paper auction for £5,600

What are the most valuable cards?

As with all collecting fields, certain items or areas come in and out of fashion, and in the current market sporting cards demand the most attention and achieve the best prices. The current record is a Topps Mickey Mantle 1952 rookie card, graded 9.5 by SGC. This sold in 2022 for 12.6 million dollars, at Heritage Auctions in the US. The record for a Pokemon card is 5.275 million dollars, achieved for a 1998 Pikachu Japanese promo holo illustrator card graded 10 by PSA in a private sale. The most expensive football card is 1.33 million dollars for a 1958 Pele Alifabolaget, sold in 2022. Most of the records prices for trade cards have come in recent years and the market is currently very strong in this area.

Patsy Dougherty, Baseball card T206 PSA Graded, Sold for £290 in October 2023
Patsy Dougherty, PSA graded card. Sold for £290 in our October 2023 Paper sale.

What is card grading?

There are now several companies, such as PSA and SGC, that offer card grading. This is still more popular in the US than the UK and there is a cost involved which varies depending on the cards value. Cards are carefully assessed and given a score between one and ten before being put in a tamper proof hard plastic case. There is no doubt that high grades increase a cards collectable value, but it may not be worth it for lower grade cards. Some collectors also prefer to be able to handle the cards and this cannot be done after grading.

Where can I sell cigarette cards? Whare to sell trade cards?

There are several ways to sell your cards with many dealers around the world, cigarette card fairs and online selling platforms. However, most of the record prices for cards have been achieved at auction. This opens up a huge market with vast numbers of bidders registered around the world keeping a close watch on online auction platforms.

Here at Griffin’s Auctioneers we hold regular auctions with cigarette cards and trade cards and have achieved some outstanding results.

This Ogdens Guinea Gold Series "Meredith at Work" (Billy Meredith) single card sold in April 2023 for a hammer price of £5,600.

This Goodwin & Co. USA 1888 Champions - baseball "Anson 1st Base, Chicago" single card also sold in 2023 for a hammer price of £3,800.

We are always on hand to offer a free auction valuation for anything from single cards to large collections. Just contact the team at or call us on 01926 505012. We can also make outright cash offers in some cases if you would prefer to sell you collection quickly.

You can always take a look at previous sale results here

Goodwin & Co, 1888 'Anson 1st base Chicago' trade card, sold for £3,800 in 2023
Goodwins & Co, 1888 Anson 1st base, sold for £3,800 in our April 2023 Paper sale

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