Examples of Taddy cigarette cards from the Clowns and Circus Artistes set which was never issued, £8000 at Loddon Auctions.

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And particularly in demand is a set of 20 titled Clowns and Circus Artistes which has the key appeal of being prototype versions that were never issued.

When they do come up at auction high four-figure prices will result.

The latest was offered by specialist saleroom Loddon Auctions (22.8% buyer’s premium inc tax) on May 3. It sold via a phone bid at the low estimate of £8000.

The set came from the private collection of a ‘renowned deceased collector’, and several other Taddy cards featured in the Berkshire sale were from the same source.

Reeman Dansie of Colchester sold another Clowns set for £8400 in May 2021, while last year Lewes saleroom Toovey’s took £4200 for one c.1915 catalogued as ‘by family repute these cards were gifted to the vendor’s grandfather, an avid cigarette card collector, by an employee at the Taddy factory’.

Long burner


Example of Taddy cigarette card from the Clowns and Circus Artistes set which was never issued, £8000 at Loddon Auctions.

The Taddy company dates back to the 18th century and by the end of the 19th century it was one of the most important tobacco companies in Britain.

A 2021 article by a Mrs K Hart on the website of the Cartophilic Society of Great Britain noted that by 1897 cigarette cards were being put into the Taddy packets.

It said: “That year the company produced Actresses collotype and a five-card set called English Royalty. Then the next year came a set called Royalty, Actresses and Soldiers, while 1899 brought us Natives of the World.”

In 1900 the set of 20 cards called Clown and Circus Artistes were produced but “didn’t go out on general release. Only a few sets got out of the factory. It was on the July 29, 1987, at Phillips Auctioneers, that they sold a set for £15,500 – plus 10% premium making a total of £17,050. This was a breathtaking price as Murray’s [card specialist firm] catalogue price at the time was only £6500.”

Hart added: “I have never seen the packet, only an illustration of one with a date of December 21, 1900, in a copy of Tobacco Journal.”