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International Beauties (A to G)

A lot has been written of boxing cards from the US and UK, and to see most of them involves nothing more than a quick google search. There are however plenty of boxing cards from all over the world released during the 20th century, that in my opinion are as appealing as most of the "mainstream" releases from the US and UK.

There are also some rarities often overlooked and undervalued by collectors who are focused mainly on the American (and to an extent British) releases.

Boxing has been a popular worldwide sport since the inception of the earliest tobacco cards, and many pugilists have been depicted on cards from all over the globe.

This article contains a very brief overview of some of the vintage international cards available - from countries starting with A to G !

One of the earliest non US cards released were the Australian version of the Goodwin & Co's Old Judge series (ACC: N174). These were produced specifically for the Australian market by Goodwin & Co and were thought to be released around 1890.

Top line Aussie pugs of the time were featured on the cards such as Frank Slavin, Peter Jackson and the legendary Bob Fitzsimmons. Although Fitzsimmons was not truly Australian, being born in England and rasied in New Zealand, he did spend seven years perfecting his skills under the tutelage of Larry Foley before heading to greater fame in the US.

Left: 1890 Old Judge N174 "Frank "Paddy" Slavin
Right: 1901 Ogden's Guinea Golds Peter Jackson

Ogden's also manufactured a specific Australian release of the Guinea Gold cards in 1901. From the massive 400 card set, there were 2 boxers present - the little known Tim Burge, and the Hall of Famer, and heavyweight championship contender Peter Jackson, who was born in the West Indies, but came to Australia as a child. The rear of the cards show the backs being similar to the English releases, with the writing "Ogdens Ltd, Sydney" being the notable difference.

The only true dedicated boxing set released in Australia was that by food manufacturing company Davies & Herbert in 1922 with their "Newcastle Boxers" series. The 50 card set featured mainly little known local boxers, but does have the first true cigarette/insert card of Hall of Fame inductee Les Darcy in the set.

This extremely rare set also appears in multiple variations with different colored borders on the front as well as different backs. Due to their rarity and poor manufacture, to put together a set in decent condition is almost mission impossible.

The cards when found are not cheap, no matter the boxer - expect to pay in the hundreds of dollars for the Darcy card alone.

Left: 1922 Davies & Herbert Les Darcy
Right: 1932 Sweetacres Ambrose Palmer

Australia also released various sports sets over the years, featuring boxers within the sets. Darcy also featured in the fairly common 1932 Sweetacres set, along with fellow Australian Champion Ambrose Palmer, and the even more common 1933 BDV Cigarettes set (manufactured by UK company Godfrey Phillips), which also feature Palmer. The set featured various sportsmen and horses on each side of the card. The Darcy card has 5 different backs.
Palmer was a popular boxer of the time, stepping into the ring with boxing legends such as Gus Lesnevitch and Young Stribling. Another UK company Carreras featured him on a card issued with their Turf Cigarettes in a set titled "Sporting Personalities".

Left: 1933 Turf Cigarettes Ambrose Palmer
Right: 1933 BDV Cigarettes Les Darcy

There were also other rarities released in Australia featuring Australian champions, such as the 1934 MacRobertsons cards and the 1948 WC Douglas "Fountain of Merit" cards, both of which are relatively hard to find.

Some of the sets also contained an international flavour. The 1949 Vic Nut set contained the legendary Joe Louis as the only non Australian of the set. The 1964 MacRobertsons cards also contained what is believed to be the first ever card of Ali, then Cassius Clay (the 1964 VEB eggs card spoke of Clay in his fight against Australian Tony Madigan, but didn't picture him).

Left: 1949 Vic Nuts Joe Louis
Right: 1964 MacRobertsons Cassius Clay

De Beukelaer were a chocolate company who produced many sets depicting film stars. Their 1932 set however included boxers, some of which are inductees into the Hall Of Fame, such as Kid Berg and Jim Corbett.

I won't go into a lot of detail as I consider the Canadian cards to be well known as many of the American collectors included them within their sets, and as such they are in high demand.

The main sets, the C52's (which are copies of the T218's) and the 1923 Willard's Chocolates are the most desirable for collectors. The Robertson Candy set, designated K153 is a copy of the E76 set, but a lot harder to find.

Canada also released a few sporting sets that featured boxing, such as the 1925 Dominion Chocolate and 1920s Tobacco Product Corps of Canada "Canadian Sports Champions" set, which featured the boxing champs of Canada of the time.

Left: 1925 Dominion Bobbie Ebber
Right: 1910 C52 Frank Klaus

Left: Susini Jack Johnson
Right: 1920s Romeo Y Julieta Johnny Kilbane

There are collectors who collect purely Cuban cards, and there are many boxing card collectors with little knowledge of the Cuban sets released, some of which are the rarest of all international releases.

Cuba released many sets concentrating on Baseball, Boxing and various other sports, mainly in the early part of the 20th century (1920's). When offered, the Cuban cards are in great demand by collectors, mainly due to the subjects depicted within the sets.

The Romeo Y Julieta is a rare Cuban issue released by the famous cigar manufacturer in the 1920's and contains well over 150 cards. Boxers featured include many hall of famer's, such as legends in Jack Dempsey, Jack Johnson and Benny Leonard.

Jack Johnson also featured in the Susini set of the same era (often referred to as having a release date of 1915, but the exact date is unknown). The other boxer in the Susini set is Billy Wells.

The massive Arguilitas sets of the 1920's also featured many boxers, which were mainly of Cuban origin, but there are some top line international fighters of the day featured. It is often hard to find the vintage Cuban cards with decent backs, as many were stuck into albums, or scrapbooks and therefore have suffered damage from removal.

Another set of cards was released in 1930 with Caramelos Estrella Habana Cigars. Names such as Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Jack Sharkey and Jimmy McLarnin appeared within this set. These cards, measuring around 1/2" x 3/4" are possibly the smallest ever cards released.

Left: 1930 La Estrella Gene Tunney
Right: 1946/7 Montiel Tommy Loughran

The most popular of the Cuban sets is the Montiel set of 1946/47 which is in demand with the boxing and baseball collectors. These paper thin cards, which were released with different colored borders are probably the easiest Cuban card to find, but it would still be quite a task to put together the the set. The set itself reads like a who's who of boxing history. Names such as John L Sullivan, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Tommy Loughran and Jack Johnson all appear within the set. Unfortunately these "cards" are hard to find in decent condition mainly due to their fragile manufacture.

One of my favourite "international" boxing cards series is a set from 1927 released by the Danish publication Rich's and titled "Sportsfolk" . Although only containing two boxers as part of the 50 card sports set, the Dempsey and Carpentier cards are one of the most colorful and attractive cards of all time. In my opinion, these are a must for any collection. The only problem is finding them.

El Salvador
There are many baseball releases from South America, other than Cuba, but not a lot of boxing cards. One set released in 1929 from La Morena featured colorful photographic cards, with boxers such as Jack Dempsey and Max Schmeling.

Left: 1927 Richs Jack Dempsey
Right: 1932 La Pie Qui Chante Jack Dempsey

A country not known for their cards, France did release a few sets depicting boxers over the years. One of their smaller issues was by their La Pie Qui Chante in 1932, and featured Jack Dempsey. The Felix Potin sets of the 1920's and 1950's also included a vast array of Hall of Fame legends.

Along with the UK and USA, Germany is the most prominent manufacturer of cigarette and trade cards. Over the years Germany released thousands of cigarette card sets, with many of these coming in boxing's golden era of the 20's and 30's.

You can literally find hundreds of different cards of hall of famers that have been released in Germany with boxers such as Schmeling, Dempsey, Sharkey & Tunney appearing in numerous sets.

The giant cigarette corporation R Greiling was responsible for many of Germany's boxing cards including their numerous Boxen & Boxsport series. released about 1926. Another popular set that featured a smattering of hall of famers was the "Die Welt in Bildern" (aka "The World in Pictures") sets of 1928/9. The reason I call them sets is that each card could contain at least 5 different backs, depending on the company who released them. They are small and paper thin cards, but colorful.

Left: 1926 Grieling Harry Greb
Right: 1926 Casanova Jack Dempsey

Another major and desirable set amongst collectors was the 1926 Casanova Cigaretten set. These sepia toned cards featured numerous boxers from Germany and around the world, and included many stars such as Dempsey, Tunney and a boxer who doesn't appear on a great deal of cards in Harry Wills.

Left: 1928 "The World In Pictures" Tunney
Right: 1933 Trumpf Chocolates Tunney

Not only did tobacco companies release boxing cards in Germany, but also others such as margarine companies (1932 Sanella Margarine), confectioners (1933 Trumpf Schokoladenfabrik (Chocolate) "Mit Trumpf durch alle Welt" (With Trumpf, All Around The World)). The Trumpf set includes popular subjects in Tunney, Dempsey, Schmeling and Sharkey.

The above has only touched on a small number of German cards, as I could be here for the next week writing about them !

So there you have it, the first part of a brief selection of well known and not so well known boxing cards released throughout the world. I have only highlighted some of the sets, but there are many others from other countries out there. Next week will feature countries from H through to Z.

If you have any more to add, or wish to write an article, let me know !

International Cards - Countries H to Z

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