Current status: Active
J.A. Pattreiouex "The English & Welsh Counties" 21/52

Middlesex Branch 

Greetings to all card and ephemera collectors in the Middlesex Area. Did you know that we used to hold a well attended fair, with NO ADMISSION FEES on the first Saturday of every month at St Hilda`s Church Hall, Woodthorpe Rd, Ashford TW15 3JY ? Our doors swung open from 9.30am and stayed open till 3.00pm, and inside were all manner of cards and ephemera on sale, with dealers who specialised in cigarette cards, trade cards and postcards - part sets, and complete sets, and a huge selection of odds at 50% catalogue price – plus several of our regular dealers used to generally bring a few other paper collectables as well as the odd tin and packet. All in all it was a marvellous fair! 
We cannot open our doors at the moment, but we are all looking forward to the day that we can. And when that day comes, we warmly welcome you all. So just watch this space for breaking news.

There have been several other branches and clubs in Middlesex. The earliest we know of is : 

South Harrow Cigarette Card Club

The first mention of this I have to hand appears in the November 1937 edition of the London Cigarette Card Company’s “Cigarette Card News” (Vol.5, No.49, p.25), however the page says : “following the first report of the Club’s activities published … . in the August issue”. That would be Vol.4, No.46, I don’t have that, so if anyone does and would like to help with research please contact us. Anyway the follow up piece is written by the Hon. Secretary, S.H. Dascombe, of Thistledene Avenue, South Harrow, who was a frequent correspondent to the “Cigarette Card News” in the 1930s, under the initials of S.H.D. He says “the Club`s membership has gradually grown, and, although it cannot boast yet of fifty members, new collectors are joining every week.” It also said that membership “covers the whole of the British Isles, and [they had] even had an enquiry from Siam.” 

It seems that the Club was primarily a system where collectors sent their surplus odd cards in and they were sorted out into a pool for exchange between the members. There was a definite need for this as country-wide the supply of cards differed, with “large demand for Churchman`s … from Northern members, and … for Ogden`s and Mitchell`s from Southern.” Any collector could join, by writing to the Hon. Sec., and enclosing a three halfpenny stamp for the relevant information to be returned.

The February 1938 issue (CCN Vol.5, No.52, p.93) had what I believe to be the first “Around the Clubs” segment, though there were only two clubs, the South Harrow and the Cameric. However this does prove that at that time at least the South Harrow club was not a part of the Cameric, but an independent club.  It says that South Harrow had been a Club for six months now, “membership has steadily grown, and [includes] collectors from all parts of the British Isles, and also overseas.” A Mr. G.H. Grubb had appeared, he had designed the new “Circulating Wants List … [which] is working smoothly and efficiently.” Two new schemes were being prepared, and would be rolled out within a few weeks, one involved exchanging complete sets, not just odds. The other was not disclosed. Again all inquiries to the usual address, with a stamped, addressed envelope.

There was a break in correspondence for a few months, then in the April 1938 edition (CCN Vol.5, No.54, p.136) a report appeared which said the club had many inquiries relating to membership, though a few had left in recent months. It is a very strange article, which says “as they have not lodged any complaint [they] presume the fault has not been with the club… Collectors who join clubs should realize that they should not expect “something for nothing” …if some collectors who criticize the running of clubs would take over the jib of secretary, they would have a wider view of things.” It does go on in lighter vein, saying trade cards were popular, especially Typhoo, they liked the fact that Player`s changed their series very rapidly, and there had been a “welcome return of non-adhesive backs with Wills “Garden Hints”. The June 1938 edition (CCN Vol.5, No.56, p.165) mentioned more changes, which would be notified to all members in the next few weeks. An Advisory Committee had been set up, this being Messrs G.H. Grubb, F. Brown, and C. Marsden, from Lancashire Branch, who would now deal with all matters relating to the club rather than the Secretary (this reinforces my belief from the paragraph above that something had gone awry). There was also to be a “tightening up of the Club’s rules”, and more new schemes to benefit beginners. The club had over 100,000 cards in their pool of exchanges, only 30% of which were adhesive backed. In July 1938 (CCN Vol.5, No.57) a report said that it was exactly a year ago, on 20th July, 1937, that the Secretary had sent his appeal for members to the “Cigarette Card News”. Since then the club “has made great strides, its membership … grown and … services increased. The … “circulating list” has been very encouraging … the standard of cards has been kept at a very high level – with only a few reprimands!” It had also been decided that “all members who have not communicated with the Club within the past three months will not be considered as members – pending the beginning of the new year. Fresh application for membership will thus be needed.” 

An article, written by David Pullen, appears in the September 1938 edition (CNN Vol.5, No.59, p.224 – 226). This seems to be the first real discussion about cigarette card clubs, unless anyone knows otherwise; he states he is quoting from “… the system [in use at] the only club to which I have the honour to belong”, and I am almost certain this is South Harrow, though it is not named, but he mentions it was “largely experimental” a year or so back, which ties in nicely, that he gets special terms from the LCCC as a club member, and it also says that “some of the pioneer members had cause to consider themselves unfairly treated [including] the man who deposited a couple of hundred pre-war cards in spotless condition to receive no better than a similar number of slightly grubby sticky-backs in exchange.” (This seems to explain the disgruntled air of recent reports, and the necessity for changes). It goes on to say “No reputable club now arranges card for card exchanges, the majority working on a catalogue basis besides making sure that those who send in valuable cards are in a position to receive such for themselves.” It mentions that there are five pools at his club, the first being low priced cards, rising upwards through two and three, whilst pool 4 is for medium and large cards, and pool 5 for completed sets. (and if you remember it was only in February 1938 that it had said South Harrow`s new scheme involved exchanging complete sets, not just odds.) 
 Each member was credited on a cash basis for deposits and can draw cards only to that value. Should a member leave, he receives cards to the full value of his remaining deposit, selected by the secretary from stock in hand. In the same magazine on p.237, their September report says the club has “undergone some minor changes, brought about by progress, experience, and expansion.” The bulk of their members were still from London, followed by Northern, Southern and lastly Midland. No overseas members were mentioned.

In November 1939 (CCN Vol.6, No.62, p.23) it states that “The Secretary announces that for the future this Club will be known as “Universal Cigarette Card Exchange Club”. All members are requested to send in a list of deposits with their wants lists from now onwards. No more members can be accepted for the present, but a further announcement will be made shortly.” The only other mention I have tracked down is in February 1940 (CCN Vol.6, No.65, p.94) where it says : “UNIVERSAL CIGARETTE CARD EXCHANGE CLUB (late South Harrow Cigarette Card Club). During the illness of the secretary, the Club has been operated by the President and some of the members, All new business will be dealt with shortly. (S.H. Dascombe, Hon. Secretary, at the usual address). There is a “Universal Cartophilists Club” which appears in The Bulletin (Vol.2, No.XXII, May 1941) in the Pen Portrait of E.F. Brant of Lincolnshire, but I am not sure if this is another name change or not.  

 We have to wait a long while for another Middlesex Club to appear, this was

The Bees Cigarette Card Club 

The “Cartophilic Notes and News” (March/April 1985 Vol.13, No.130, p.3638) has a half page advertisement which we reproduce here. This was for their inaugural meeting at The Waterman`s Arts Centre, High Street, Brentford, Middlesex on Sunday 19th May 1985, and we like the way it says “Kick-off at 2.30”. They took their name from the local football club, Brentford, which Ogdens “Football Nicknames” shows us has the symbol of a bee (probably due to the striped kit). 
The club was started by Nat Chait of Nathan`s Pipe Shop, 60 Hill Rise, in Richmond. It does not appear in any of the Branch listings though. However this name did not last very long, it was soon replaced by …

West Middlesex Branch 

We know very little about this stage in the club’s story, but it was equally short lived and was replaced by …

The Richmond Gem Branch 

In the September/October 1985 edition (CNN Vol.13, No.133, p3733) it was revealed that the club had moved to the Parish Rooms, Church Walk, Richmond, and changed its name from West Middlesex Branch to Richmond Gem Branch. Meetings would take place at 2pm on the last Sunday of the month, starting on the 29th of September. This first appears in the magazine under Branch listings in the November/December1985 edition (CNN Vol.13, No.134, p3766), under full Branches, not affiliated nor non-affiliated. Earlier in the same edition p.3764 it gives a meeting date of 30 March 1986. In the May/June 1986 edition (CNN Vol.[14], No.143, p3983) it says the Branch had closed temporarily. The problem was financial - the room cost £15 but auction income rarely rose above a fiver.  It was wondered if anyone nearby had anywhere to offer so they could restart should contact Nat Chait, but the branch does not appear in the following edition under the Branch listings, and I have not yet found it in later copies.