Ca. 1900. Scarce set of cards front color illustrated with scenes from old Chinese tales, Chinese text on verso. Issued by foreign companies to advertise in China, the companies include the American company W. Duke & Sons, a British and a Japanese firm.
There are 4 of the American "Pinhead Cigarettes" cards, boasting "Old Carolina Leaf", and with "W. Duke, Sons & Co." printed on the box. Duke was an American tobacco manufacturer founded in 1881 by Washington Duke. The Pinhead cards include illustrations of unruly children in a classroom; a wise old man, a family outing on a bridge over a river; and another river scene with women paddling small boats.
A British cigarette firm W. D. & H. O. Wills is represented in 3 "Pirate Cigarettes" cards. This firm was founded in Bristol England in 1786, (named W. D. & H. O. Wills in 1830) and was the first British company to mass produce cigarettes. These cards are illustrated with scenes of warriors in the mountains; a fisherman at the edge of a dry riverbed; and a philosopher in a bamboo forest.
The Japanese firm is "Peacock Cigarettes", made by Murai Bros. of Kyoto, the largest cigarette maker in Japan, which was taken over by the British American Tobacco Company in 1904.
Cards measure 5 1/4 x 8". In very good condition; one of the Pinhead cards with a very small mark at the top of the card, within the border. Very good condition. Item #23467