Card of the Day - 2022-09-04

Wills "Do You Know" A Series
W.D. & H.O. Wills [tobacco : UK] "Do You Know" A series (September 1922) - W675-165.1 : W62-127.1 : W/188 : RB.21-200-188[tobacco : UK]

Here we have a very special card, because, a hundred years on, we celebrate W.D. & H.O. Wills "Do You Know" A Series - for this was issued in September 1922, and that made it the first new card set, by a major maker, to be issued after the First World War. (The last new set issued by Wills, in case you were wondering, having been "Gems of French Architecture"in November 1917).

Our curious grammar, adding "new" takes into account the fact that some claim this honour should go to John Player, whose "Artillery in Action" was issued in May 1920 - but that was a reissue of the same set they had already issued in 1917. 

The other odd grammatical addition, "by a major maker", tells an even more fascinating tale, as in fact neither of these makers issued the first new post World War 1 set. That honour goes to Burstein, Isaacs & Co Ltd, tobacco manufacturers based at 27a Commercial Road in Whitechapel, East London, right next door to the Fire Brigade Station, and they issued "London View Series" several months earlier in January 1922. However their name does not appear on the cards, it merely quotes "Empress Cigarettes" and "THE BI-CO Company LONDON, ENGLAND". The set comprised 28 black and white real photographic cards with black borders and descriptive backs. You can see a type card front, and a back by clicking down on the gallery below the front, at Flickr/Burstein Isaacs.  Burstein Isaacs also issued a set of "Famous Prize Fighters" in 1923, this again was with "Empress Cigarettes" but once again their own name was reduced to B. I. & Co., Ltd., LONDON, ENGLAND

The clue was Lloyds of London, a building which was featured in the first ever Open House Weekend, thirty years ago. However it was not the Lloyds that they were talking about on this card. In fact originally, in the 17th Century, there was no Lloyds Building, they met in a coffee house. From there they moved to The Royal Exchange. The first actual Lloyd's building was only built after this card was issued in 1928. They moved from there in 1958, but only across the road.

And then there had been a radical new build, completed in 1986, very modern indeed, with the plumbing and lifts amongst the things which were visible on the outside not cloaked within. This led to its rather ungracious epithet of The Inside Out Building, but it also made sure it was noticed, and in a Capital City where space is at a premium it did result in extra interior measurements. It did lead to extra maintenance costs though.

The oddest thing about this set, or sets, is that despite them being so plentiful in odds boxes, it took until part four of our Wills reference book, (RB.16, 1950) for them to make an appearance.