Card of the Day - 2022-03-06

ITC Fishes of the World
Imperial Tobacco Co. of Canada [tobacco : O/S : Canada] “Fishes of the World” (1904) Un/50 - I205-520 : I/6-22 : USA/C12)

Here we have the Sea Horse – chosen for bio-diversity, the theme of this year’s event, and because, thrillingly, the River Thames has been seeing a revival in the number and variety of sea creatures. This is especially exciting as the waterway was written off and declared as unable to support any significant form of biological life in 1957. Therefore it is wonderful to read reports of seahorses, sharks, and seals not just passing through but actually spending considerable time in the river.

And even more fitting that the two species of sea-horse that have been recorded there in recent years being the spiny sea-horse, and the short-snouted sea-horse, which is the exact species we have on this card, almost 120 years after it was issued.

This set was also issued in the United Kingdom by W.A. & A.C. Churchman  and by John Player. All three versions have this back design, with the exception of the issuer’s name, and the fact that the Churchman set is only a two line I.T.C. Clause rather than the John Player’s three, splitting after “Co.”; whilst this Canadian version has “ISSUED BY”, rather than “ARE ISSUED BY” in the box between the description and the issuer’s name, which is in two lines not one (“IMPERIAL TOBACCO COMPANY / OF CANADA, LIMITED”). This is also followed by a serial number 6638, and by “Printed in England”.  

Our Churchman Reference Book tells us that the cards were printed by Mardon, Son and Hall, so it is almost certain that these, and the Canadian cards were as well. However the sea horse is one of the scarcer cards in the Churchman set, for it was printed in September 1911 and then again in May 1924, but on the latter occasion it was only a set of thirty cards not fifty, and the sea horse was one of those not chosen to be featured. 

These Canadian cards are listed by Burdick as having been issued in 1924. However, it is now thought that they were issued in 1904.  He values them at just 5 cents a card.