Thursday, 22 August 2013

Beautiful yet problematic

My maternal grandfather died when I was quite young.  I do remember him but I suppose I never really knew him.  I have a variety of possessions that remind me of each of my grandparents, nothing actually valuable as such, but reminders that mean a lot.

My memories of my grandfather are of a man who smoked, who played chess with my father every Sunday afternoon, who drove with a large teddy bear in the back seat of the car, he gardened a lot in particular I associate him with rows of red and yellow tulips and he collected cigarette cards.  He was passionate about his collection and had many beautiful and rare sets that were worth quite a bit of money.
Some years after his death my grandmother was burgled and most of his collection was stolen.  Not much else was taken, my grandparents did not own anything else really of value and it was fairly clear that the burglar knew what s/he was after.  It was sad, but they were gone.  Life moved on.
Some years later my grandmother gave my son a small album of cigarette cards.  It did not contain any full sets, but dribs and drabs of various unfinished collections.  It was though a small connection back to my grandfather.  I spent quite a bit of time looking through it.  Cigarette cards are a thing long gone now.  I suppose they would be much frowned upon as encouraging people to smoke, but they were part of a shopping culture that no longer seems to exist.  I remember you could collect cards found in tea packets too.  Collecting and saving and sending in for free gifts was a real part of my childhood.
I realised that one of the sets of cards was nearly complete.  Only two cards were missing.  I went straight to the internet, not knowing if I could find the missing ones or any idea of how much they might cost.  I was curious though, could I complete the set?
Yes, I could, I think the cards cost 50p each as most collections are not really worth much at all and this is a fairly common one that is easily available.  I bought the missing two and then took it into a local framers to be framed.  It is now pride of place in my lounge and I look at it and think of my grandfather..............smoking his way through collecting them......... oh dear, see it is beautiful, but it is problematic.

9 comments :

  1. The memories and connection these cards bring are priceless!

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  2. my mother has some cigarette card collections - none of them complete but they are very interesting. I think it is lovely what you have done and maybe the whole collection will be worth something one day

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    1. Well if you ever get the urge you can probably easily complete the sets at very little cost. I was amazed at how easily I found the ones I needed as I knew nothing about collecting cigarette cards at all. I doubt they will ever be worth very much to anyone but me and my family as they are quite a common one, but to me they are priceless.

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  3. What a lovely way to remember your grandfather, not pc now but they are also a reminder of a former way of life. They look so good framed up and hanging where you can enjoy them.

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  4. Andy's real Dad collected cigarette cards and they are the only thing he has that were from him-a real link to the past.
    But also they are a sign of an age gone past, where people did slowly collect things that were of lillte monetary value, but that were important to them. Remember the vouchers on the back of Robinsons marmalade? I think we could learn a lot looking back at them today.

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    1. I still have some Robinsons vouchers in a jar that my grandmother had collected but never used, we found them when we were clearing her house after she died.

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  5. I have a collection of tea cards depicting British butterflies, they form a direct link to my childhood and my parents small back garden, and may even be one of the reasons I became an artist.

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    1. Yes I see these as a link to my childhood, its funny isn't it how things make a real connection. I definitely grow things that remind me of all my grandparents, it reminds me of playing at their respective homes with my brothers.

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