Mastro Spring 2007
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on: 4/27/2007

Graded 20 FR 1.5 by SGC, the only example of this famously rare tobacco card graded by any third party company. When Jefferson Burdick first tackled the cataloging of all American-made tobacco card sets he ran into a few problems. First, he couldn't create a true chronological or alphabetical index, as so many sets' dates of creation and original titles were, and still are, unknown. So Burdick worked with the information he had available: a rough idea of which century saw the set's introduction (19th—"N" and 20th—"T"), the distributing tobacco company for that set (arranged in an alphabetical list of all makers), the type of card in the set (lithograph before photographic), the physical size of the set's cards (sets of smaller cards arranged together before those of larger), and a set's title (when unknown he created one, then he arranged all titles alphabetically underneath the listed header of their creator). The end result was that the first tobacco card set listed in Burdick's American Card Catalog was a 19th Century lithographic issue of small physical size that had been issued by Allen & Ginter. This set was given the designating number N1 and the rest of the index followed using the same sorting criteria. So, after all was said and done it was A&G's American Editors set that was listed as the first in the 19th Century index, while an unfamiliar single-card issue named Marquis of Lorne, produced by a little-known manufacturer (the American News Co.) received the ACC designation of N519. If Burdick had been able to list all tobacco sets chronologically in the interest of consistency, the designated numbers of these two sets would have been reversed.

As a type collector of all 19th and 20th Century tobacco issues, you work at assembling your sampler albums, buying one satisfactory card from each set that you feel best represents the company's output for that particular product. Some types, even 125-year-old tobacco issues, can be very affordable. Others, particularly type cards from sports-related sets, can be very expensive. Despite the expense, you will regularly either spend the needed revenues or amass a significant amount of trade materials to fill that empty slot in your collection. We know these circumstances well because we are collectors, too. Here's another scenario with which we are familiar—every time you open your albums, every time you fill one or more of those annoying slots, there is always one glaring vacancy that you know will forever torment you. No matter how much money you amass, no matter how many favors you are owed, no matter the fact that you have a stack of Mayo baseball and Kalamazoo Bats in your trade-bait pile, you despair over the possibility that nothing you can ever do will help you fill that glaring vacancy in your N-card number run. No ... you will never find the solitary N519 Marquis of Lorne—the only card in that N-number's "set." Examples seemingly just don't exist. After all, only three are known. Burdick had one, and it is now forever part of his permanent collection at the New York Metropolitan Museum. Another resides in the British Museum. The third known example is in private hands, having sold at a 1994 Christie's sale and unlikely to surface again in your lifetime. The worst part of it all is that the Marquis of Lorne is probably the most important insert card ever made, and you will never own it.

The importance of the card is easily explained. Simply, it is largely recognized as the first insert card ever  to find its way into a pack of cigarettes. Of course, most of the people reading this are already aware of this one salient fact: every card that ever found its way into a pack with gum or caramels; every card that ever went into a bread loaf, a pack of hot dogs or a cereal box; every card that was ever handed to you when you bought shoes, a baseball glove or a newspaper—all of these cards and every other premium or insert card that you can imagine owe their very existence to this one card. That's the gist of it, plain and simple. The Marquis of Lorne ad insert card of 1879 is the "Adam" of our card collecting hobby. His "Eve," if you will, is undoubtedly Thos. H. Hall's Between the Acts set of the following year that is known to have included four female performers and four presidential candidates in its initial series—widely regarded as the first true insert card set of them all. If you look carefully upon an image of a Marquis of Lorne card you will see the obvious stylistic similarities that it shares with the Hall set that appeared the following year, right down to the shades of brown coloration of the lithography. It is highly unlikely that this similarity was an accident. The Marquis was obviously the later set's inspiration, marking it as the keystone of our hobby, a launching point for an industry.

What we are offering here is a previously unreported example of this rare card—now the fourth known and only the second that we know to have been offered at auction during the hobby's entire, lengthy tradition. This exciting discovery means that a second person will now have the chance to achieve the previously unimaginable—to actually complete a type set that includes every tobacco card set ever produced. But more than that, this single card offering represents an opportunity for all, type collectors and set collectors alike, to take their best shot at owning a very important piece of our hobby's history. And it is an attractive piece of hobby history at that. This card is frontally clean (a few small areas of tobacco effects—see photo), with the correct, somewhat muddy registration in its printing strike that all known examples demonstrate. (Mounting glue on its blank reverse and a small pencil mark on its front appear to be the main reasons for SGC's assigned grade.) At the top center border line of this example appears the same vertical print line that the card from the 1994 Christies sale demonstrated. The Christie's example appears in photos with no right border and clipped lower corners. But there is one other difference between that card and this one—our offering does not have any evidence of a lithographer's credit at its lower edge. This appears to be because our card is trimmed slightly shorter than the listed dimensions for the issue, probably eliminating the printer's credit line. (The N519 Marquis of Lorne is listed in Forbes & Mitchell's American Tobacco Cards reference work as measuring 1-9/16" X 3-1/16" [40mm x 78mm], while this example measures 1-9/16" x 3" [40mm x 76mm].) All three that we have seen demonstrate odd cutting and inaccurate centering, and it is easy to understand that machine cutting of these advertising throwaways would probably have been deemed an unnecessary expense for the small manufacturer. One thing is certain, this example is at least the equal of the one that is glued into the Burdick collection binder, and it is superior to the oddly cut example that sold through Christie's almost 13 years ago. It may well be the most attractive example in existence.

Truly at least fifteen times more rare than the T206 Wagner, and far, far more important to cartophilic history, this elder statesman of our collecting enterprise commands both our full respect and our undivided attention. There is no question that the card deserves all we can muster and more. If all things in life made perfect sense, the Marquis of Lorne card would rightfully merit the "N1" appellation.

1879 N519 Marquis of Lorne - The Grand Ancestor of All Premium Insert Cards!1879 N519 Marquis of Lorne - The Grand Ancestor of All Premium Insert Cards!
1879 N519 Marquis of Lorne - The Grand Ancestor of All Premium Insert Cards!
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Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $2,500
Price Realized (Includes Buyers Premium): $18,540
Number of Bids: 0
Auction closed on: 4/27/2007