Card of the Day - 2024-03-31

Wills Cricketer Series (Aus)
W.D. & H.O. Wills [tobacco : UK] “Australian and English Cricketers” (1903) 19/25 – W675-347.2 : W62-221.2 : W/59.B

Now the clue here is the player`s surname, the only word on the front of the card. For whilst Messrs. Chepman & Myllar started printing shortly after the press was set up, their first works, which were short stories and poems, produced as one or two sheets alone, none were dated.

All that changed in 1508, when they produced a collection of poems and stories bound in one cover. They were technically the works they had so far printed, simply joined up, but we will gloss over that. The poems and stories all had different titles, so they had to pick one to form a main title for the book - and what they picked was "The Complaint of the Black Knight" by the English writer John Lydgate who had been born in 1370 and died in 1451. 

This set was first listed in our original Wills reference book part III as part of a listing entitled “CRICKETERS – Australian Issues”. The section started by saying : “Under this heading it is proposed to group all the “Cricketers” series issued in Australia prior to 1918. Fig.41 contains illustrations of the front and one sample of the different backs of each issue.”  Our set is in that listing as :

B. 25 AUSTRALIAN AND ENGLISH CRICKETERS (adopted title). Numbered. See Fig. 41-B. Fronts lithographed in colour. Backs in blue. Issued 1903

None of these issues appeared in the lists of dates which were extracted from the Wills Works Magazine, the earliest one there being June 1905, the “Russo-Japanese Series”.

Our World Tobacco Issues Indexes also list this set as part of the main `Cricketers Series` grouping of seven different dated sets. The listing for our set reads :

2. 1903 issue. Untitled. Australian and English players. Nd. (25). Back in blue, inscribed “Wills`s Cigarettes”. See W/59.B