Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Magic Cards

No, not those Magic cards.  I'm still kicking myself for selling off my "Magic: The Gathering" cards when I moved to Massachusetts.  I weep when I see what a Black Lotus and Mox Pearl is worth today.

Mike Jenkins sent over a link to an interesting set of magical charm cards from the Will's Cigarette Company, posted by the New York Public Library.  The series dates back to the 1920s and were inserted inside each pack of smokes as a premium.  Each one covers an item from around the world and includes explanatory text on the flip side.  The artwork is phenomenal, and the entire set has a wonderfully creepy vibe.

Update: Broken link fixed.


gndn said...

I'd never seen one of those weird hands before, but apparently they're real:




The nails are said by the card to be Gnostic, and the frog is said to be Roman. I could not find a photo of a similar frog. Here are some similar nails:


CoastConFan said...

The hand is well known as belonging to the cult of Sabazios, later adopted by the Romans. The article is well worth a read. By the way the term “chthonic” crops up in the description.



Wills was involved in tobacco sales early on and were probably the first to use the tobacco card premiums.


I was surprised to find that a Dr Who from 1977, episode 95, the Sun Makers was filmed at one of their factories.

Apparently there is still a collecting community out there for Will’s cigarette cards. According this article the Lucky Charms series is from 1923.


Raven said...

Wikimedia Commons has ten other pictures of Hands of Sabazios, left and right, with enough variety in design to induce a basic pattern: the human hand in almost a V-for-victory gesture, with the upper fingers not very separated (thus also like the Christian sacerdotal gesture, only that would have them touching along their lengths), and at least a snake-like bracelet around the wrist; after that, a variety of decorations added to all the sides and top of the hand -- not necessarily the same choices from example to example.

Derek said...

These are great!

The Hands of Sabazios. These are just crying out to be used for something in a Call of Cthulhu game!

I wrote a post on that on my blog here:

Also the link to the NYPL doesn't work, both links you posted go to Mike's blog, and I'm really interested to see the originals!

Raven said...

This may not be the original NYPL link, but it it seems to work.