These Vintage Car Cigarette Card Illustrations Are Wonderful

Musky tobacco smell not included.

byThe Drive StaffFeb 22, 2016 10:16 PM
These Vintage Car Cigarette Card Illustrations Are Wonderful
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Recently, the New York Public Library digitized and released its immense collection of photos. Like the nerds we are, we immediately began digging (scrolling) through for something delicious and automotive. Far from the first page, but still miles from carpal tunnel, we came across these winners: French cigarette cards showcasing some of the most beautiful metal of the Forties and Fifties.

Aren’t familiar with cigarette cards? Then you probably weren’t smoking cigarettes before 1950. Before there were the rigid, rectilinear flip-top packs we have today, cigarettes were sold mostly in paper “soft packs,” easily crushed if left in a pocket. Many came with a stiffening cardboard square; as early as the 1870s, enterprising vendors were commissioning artists to portray movie stars, athletes, wildlife, airplanes and, of course, cars on the ostensibly structural cards. As such, smokers were encouraged to collect full sets of the colorful cards while—simultaneously—upholstering their lungs in tar. It was brilliant marketing and today, the cards can sell for as much as $1 million on eBay.

Or, for free, you could download these technicolor beauties: Les Autos Modernes, a wonderful and wonderfully curated series from Mills Cigarettes. The pleasing nicotine scent, unfortunately, did not survive scanning. But the illustrations are perfect.

A.C. Greyhound

, George Arents Collection

Aston Martin DB4

, George Arents Collection

Austin Healey Sprite

, George Arents Collection

Cadillac Fleetwood Sedan

, George Arents Collection

Chrysler Imperial

, George Arents Collection

Citroen D.S.19

, George Arents Collection

Corvair

, George Arents Collection

Corvette

, George Arents Collection

Daimler 2.5 Litre Sports

, George Arents Collection

De Soto Diplomat

, George Arents Collection

Dodge Dart

, George Arents Collection

Fiat 600

, George Arents Collection

Ford Edsel

, George Arents Collection

Hillman Minx Convertible

, George Arents Collection

Humber Super Snipe Saloon

, George Arents Collection

Jaguar XK150

, George Arents Collection

Lynx

, George Arents Collection

Mercedes-Benz 300SL

, George Arents Collection

Mercury Commuter

, George Arents Collection

Renault Dauphine

, George Arents Collection

Simca Verdette

, George Arents Collection

Singer Gazelle Sport Car

, George Arents Collection

Studebaker Silver Hawk

, George Arents Collection

Sunbeam Alpine

, George Arents Collection

Triumph Herald

, George Arents Collection