I know about sports trading cards – football, basketball, baseball – T206, Honus Wagner, etc. They were used as premiums in products from tobacco and cigarettes to bubblegum and even on the backs of Hostess Twinkies product boxes. But, did you know that not all those trading cards pictured sports figures? I didn’t think much about it. But as it turns out there are many different kinds of premium “trading” cards.
Go ahead and do a search on eBay for “vintage trading cards”. What a trading card treasure trove! Astronauts, Superman, airplanes, 50’s and 60’s TV shows, Star Wars, James Bond, Davey Crockett, 1892 US Territories. Oh! And don’t forget those Elvis Presley trading cards!
Last night a friend came for dinner. Bob is a collector of …. well, “stuff”. Mostly sports “stuff”. But he collects other “stuff” that catches his eye. It seems Bob thought a series of wild bird tobacco trading cards, circa 1910, was particularly beautiful. So, he added them to his collection of trading card “stuff”. And he brought his binder to share with me. He thought I would enjoy the images of the birds and the artwork on the cards.
Of course Bob complimented the only thing I have ever collected in my life … my Hallmark “Beauty of Birds” Christmas ornament series. They’re displayed on the Christmas tree for a few weeks a year then carefully put away. I don’t like stuff. Stuff collects dust. I don’t like to dust. So, I don’t collect stuff. Simple. But I think Bob feels sorry for a poor soul like me. A soul that does not enjoy collecting stuff is a poor soul, indeed.
Well, I must admit that I was amazed by the beauty of the wild bird tobacco trading cards Bob brought to share. The colors were so rich. Some cards had golden edges. There were rich, deep blues, brilliant reds, bright orange on midnight black. There were woodpeckers, goldfinches, cardinals, peacocks, red-winged blackbirds, the brown headed cowbird, the toucan, and exotic birds of paradise. Poor Bob. I think he came figuring it would be a tough sell to get me to pay attention to trading cards. But once I began to lecture about New Guinea Birds of Paradise and how cowbirds lay their eggs in other species’ nests, he may have felt it was more than he bargained for.
Intending to share the beautiful artwork on the trading cards, Bob added value to his collection by leaving with a much deeper understanding of the private lives of many of the birds pictured on his cards. That knowledge is not “stuff” in the traditional sense. But you must admit, Bob, you’ll never look at your 1910 brown headed cowbird tobacco trading card the same way again.