Card of the Day - 2024-04-02

Phillips Old Masters
Godfrey Phillips [tobacco : UK - London] “Old Masters” (1939) 35/36 – P521-460 : P50-116 : P/107 [RB.13/107]

So you may be wondering why the windmill?

Well the answer is that the printers used a windmill for their trademark. It is often said that this denoted the fact that the press and printing materials had come from France, but I find that rather odd, because surely the windmill is more a Netherlands theme than a French one. Personally I think the reason is far simpler, just being a little play on words about the name of one of our men, Mr. Myllar, which would have been pronounced Miller. And I have just discovered that he did indeed use it as his personal symbol.

Now in official papers, King James IV called Messrs Chepman and Myllar "his beloved servants" and it is plain that he trusted them, because he stated that they were to "acquire and bring home a press, with all accessories, and skilled men required to use it". Not an easy task, when printing was in its infancy, and remember this was to be the first printing press in Scotland.

So how did he know these men? The answer is that he did not know Mr. Chepman too well, though he had sold textiles to the Royal Court, but Mr. Myllar had frequently supplied him books, of quality, and so he presumed, obviously rightly, that he would understand the way that such books were produced. In fact Mr. Myllar had also had books published for him, these being printed in France, by contacts, the sort of contacts who would sell him a printing press, and more importantly, who would know he knew his stuff, he would not buy something unsuitable. 

Now the King stressed that he alone would set the prices of the books produced, but that there would be no competition, that Messrs Chepman and Myllar would remain the only press in Scotland, and, also, that any breaching of this would be heavily penalised. He even went so far as banning the importation of printed books from any other country 

Sadly we do not know the later story of the press, but it seems to have closed around 1510.

Now "Old Masters" was a title also used for seven sets of silks, but these are cards. They first appear in our original Godfrey Phillips reference book, RB.13, published in 1949, described as :

107. 36. Old Masters. Medium cards, size 60 x 53 m/m. Fronts printed by offset process in colour. Backs in brown, with descriptive text. Issued 1939.

In our World Tobacco Issues Indexes the set appears under section 5.C, which are "General issues 1932-39. Cards with backs bearing reference to Associated Companies." The listing is scant though, just :

OLD MASTERS. Md. Nd. (36)