Jose Josquin Carreras, from Spain, acquired an old established tobacconist shop in London in 1846. He produced blended mixtures of tobacco for wealthy clients, including the Prince of Wales and the 3rd Earl of Craven (Craven Mixture, his best seller, was named after his customer).
The Carreras brand was acquired by Bernhard Baron in 1903. Although various schemes were used, including coupons and postage stamps, cards did not feature until 1916.
The first set of football cards did not appear until 1934. The series of 75 cards entitled Famous Footballers, included Thomas Hetherington, Ernie Hine, Jock McDougall and Jim Barrett. Original sets can be obtained for about £70 but a reprinted set in 1997 can be purchased for about £13.50.
A second set of 48 cards entitled Popular Footballers appeared in 1936. These painted portraits included Jimmy Hampson, William McKay, Bryn Jones, Billy Wrigglesworth, Ted Hancock, Percy Grosvenor, John Thompson and Arnold Whiteside. The scale of collecting cards is shown by the fact that in 1936 W.D. & H.O. Wills printed 600 million cards for their series on Railway Engines.
The outbreak of the Second World War caused a severe shortage of paper and tobacco companies were forced to bring an end to the production of cigarette cards. This shortage remained after the war and it was too expensive to provide free cards in packets of cards. In 1947 Carreras printed pictures of on the sliding part of the cigarette carton for collectors to cut out. The following year they issued a set of 50 footballers. These cards are currently valued at £4 each.