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1889 A31 W. Duke Sons & Co. "Shadows" Tobacco Premium Album
Starting Bid - $100, Sold For - $120
Outstanding tobacco premium album issued by W. Duke Sons & Co. for its "Shadows" card set produced in 1889. In the 1880s, in addition to insert cards, tobacco companies also offered special albums available only by mail in exchange for coupons (usually 75 or 100) which were packed with tobacco one coupon per pack. Each premium album features images of all of the subjects (usually 50 different) in a given set, along with additional background artwork. These souvenir albums were the top prizes offered by the tobacco companies, and have long been highly valued by collectors. Many collectors are familiar with the few albums featuring baseball players as they are very popular and expensive. The nonsport albums are just as scarce, yet far more reasonable in price. The "Shadows" album presented here, classified as A31, pictures the complete set of fifty 1888 N87 Duke "Shadows" cards. Each card illustrates a head shot with title of an individual in the foreground, casting a shadow of a different animal in the background, designed to provide a humorous effect (reminiscent of similar visual gags that appeared in Mad magazine many decades later). These very unusual nineteenth-century tobacco cards provide a window into the culture and humor of America in the 1880s, as well as its shortcomings: Of particular note is the extreme racism that is reflected by four cards in the set. The album has survived in Excellent condition, with strong binding, vibrant colors, beautiful interior pages, and light wear to the corners. The front and back covers display light wear, including tiny surface chips and a few small creases. This is an extremely attractive nonsport tobacco premium album, which would be an ideal companion piece to any complete "Shadows" set and a significant addition to any nineteenth-century nonsport-card collection. SOLD FOR $120
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