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tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #1 
So, we still have some Hall conundrums to unravel.

Following the successful forum-wide deep-dive on the Emily Rigl card by Edwin J Kerr, let's see if we can make some progress on two areas that I now have a theory on.

My proposition is that the rare backs and Bravo cigarette packet cards are actually one in the same.

My theory is that:
(i) The rare backs are actually the backs of the cards issued in Bravo cigarette packets.
(ii) And the normal backs (straight, straight plus Bravo and curved) are on cards issued in Between the Acts cigarette packets.

1. RARE BACKS: Firstly, what about those rare backs?
a) Why are they thin?
b) Why are there only about 18-20 known examples of the rare back?
c) What is the rationale for the wording on them?
d) Why is there only 1 known example of the special case (Ludwig Barnay)?
e) Can collectors rally round and find some more examples, than the recorded 18 or so known examples, to help prove/disprove the following theory (below)?

2. BRAVO BRAND: What's going on?
a) Why do we have no packet examples for Bravo (we have 3 photos in the Gallery of Between the Acts packets)?
b) Why does this brand name appear a bit haphazardly in the cards, in the N342-1 earliest series?
c) Why does Bravo brand disappear on card fronts around 1886/87 (date tbc) and then reappear in Hall cards much later in c.1891/92 in N342-4 (gold sunrays)?
d) But why are there are only c.7 known examples of the N342-4 Bravo cards?

Let's explore this in the following posts….I hope the forum will rally round and help prove/disprove this theory....and in the process we'll work out what is actually going on.

Bear with me while I post some evidence / ideas.... 


tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #2 
Let's start with the rare backs.

There are two different backs, which we'll call B1 (c.19 known) and B2 (1 only known). Examples, shown below for reference - thanks to Chris Watson and Monty Barrie's posts.

Back B1 - is known on roughly 19 cards, spanning three series of issues (7+11+1):
(a) The second series issued - the 51 cards we think of as "Straight back plus Bravo" (N342-1C(d)). These were all re-printed with curved backs, so exist in both back versions. There are 7 rare back examples known from this series. From CRB151 these are listed as Barbour, LaBlanche Davenport, Gerster, Webster, West, Davenport as Brutus, Rip van Winkle (shown below).
(b) The third series - the remaining 88 cards we think of curved back (N342-1C(a)). Cross-check (51+88) = 139 known cards in N342-1C, excluding the rare backs. There are 11 rare back examples known from this series. From CRB151 these are listed as Allison, Blanchard, Burton, Cottrelly, McHenry, Paullin, Pixley, Theo, Vanoni, Welby, plus one extra on Todd Riley's site Aimee the cuckoo (read other posts...). 
(c) The special 4 actress series N342-1A - Monty has recently posted one known example of the rare back for May Livingston - shown below.


Back B2 - Only known on 1 card (Ludwig Barnay), from the third series (N342-1C(a)) - shown below.

rare backs.jpg

tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #3 
Now, we now (from the trademark thread) that Bravo was introduced in March 1878.

Some new information to introduce, from Tobacco Leaf, 11 March 1878, clipping below, on the launch of Bravo cigarettes. Note the following:
a) This is not an all-tobacco cigarette, its a paper-wrapped cigarette. These were significantly easier to produce and should be a lower price than the all-tobacco Between The Acts cigarettes.
b) The cards are placed in protective boxes (I haven't found the trademark on this, but I have seen other similar from c.1879-1880) (*).
c) The wording confirms that the cards were 'inserts', which is a definitive dating for insert cards, set at 11 March 1878. Although we also "know" that Hall inserted cards much earlier, dating back into 1877 (see other thread) in the Between the Acts brand cigarettes.

If the Bravo cigarettes were being marketed as a cheaper brand, then thin card stock may be helpful to reduce cost. And if the boxes were robust, then thin card stock would work ok. On the same theme, if these cards are on thin stock in Bravo cigarette packets, this could contribute to their rarity, through not lasting in good shape for the last 140 years.

But my feeling is that the rarity of Bravo cigarette card pictures is due to poor sales of Bravo cigarettes, generally, with poor card stock contributing further to the rarity.

But why would Bravo suffer poor sales and how do we know? Some facts and thoughts:
a) Paper-wrapped cigarettes were considered 'injurious to health' (see first cards thread). The all-tobacco card (wrapped in tobacco leaf) was considered a significant step forward at the time and was marketed as being much more health-conscious.
b) In 1879, the paper-wrapping machines that make cigarettes cheap for Duke etc later, were not yet invented. So, the Bravo brand may not have had a sufficiently cheaper price to overcome the health issues associated with paper-wrapped cigarettes, in the buying public's mind.
c) Lack of marketing of Bravo brand - see next post below

bravo tob leaf 11 March 1878.jpg  (*) This is another thread for another day - 'stiffeners' is somewhat exaggerated, as an early terms for picture cards, as protective boxes were in regular use even in the very earliest days.


tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #4 
Bravo was not marketed anywhere near as heavily as Between the Acts.

In newspaper cuttings and adverts there are almost never any references to the Bravo brand. Seems like "Between the Acts" really took off and was the lead brand. All newspaper coverage seemed to completely ignore Bravo. In fact, I can only find two references in all the hundreds of cuttings for Between the Acts, for Bravo, which I include below.
(i)The first cutting is from February 1881, around 18 months after the launch. This confirms that in fact, the cards were marketed at the same price, 12.5c per package (presumably 10 cigarettes). Why would people buy Bravo if "Between the Acts" is the "healthy" and popular brand?
(ii) From the Half Dime (N497) introduction much later in 1892. These adverts ran from Jan 1892 to Oct 1892 (at least). And actually coincides (I think) with the reintroduction of the Bravo brand on the N342-4 gold sunrays cards.

If this is true, these thin stock cards could be in Bravo packets, but just simply didn't sell much, so there would be very few around now - particularly if the cards are brittle/fragile - which is notably not the case for Between the Acts cards, which are remarkably robust - again exaggerating the differential between the more common Between the Acts cards and the rare Bravo thin stock cards (per my theory).

Here are the only two adverts I've found:

bravo advert 1.jpg 
Half Dime.jpg

tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #5 
So, I think its clear that Bravo is not common, as a cigarette brand / packet - it wasn't well marketed, the price was not competitive and it was probably conceived by the public as being less healthy than Between the Acts cigarettes.

But why would the thin card stock / rare back cards not show a clearer Bravo branding?

Well, I think this is where we move into informed guesswork.

The lithography did clearly change to show "Between the Acts and Bravo" on both the front and back of the main cards (what I call the second series of 51 cards). These cards were in the Between the Acts packets, we must assume. The front lithography could be re-used for the Bravo packet cards, but the card stock was switched to the thin stock, with a simpler back design (B1). They didn't need to add 'Bravo' on the back, as it was on the front already. This is not a great theory, but it just about holds, at least in my mind.

And, in any case, the Bravo brand was removed in the curved back version anyway, probably due to the poor performance of the brand, or, conversely, the runaway success of the Between the Acts brand. So, it can be argued that Bravo cards only really needed branding on their front side (the same as the Between the Acts cards).

And Bravo continued to be marketed through the whole period to at least February 1881 (per the advert above). This means that Bravo cigarettes and cards would exist for all cards issued in this period, including the third series and the 4 actress series (which didn't show Bravo on the front). But, given the cost of changing things, the Bravo packets simply included the 4 actress cards anyway, with no obvious Bravo branding (explaining the Mary Livingston card).

This ties in with the scattering of rare back cards through the second and third series, plus the 4 actress cards (1 example known).

In fact, we should probably assume that the Athlete cards (12) and Presidential cards (4) could have also been inserted in Bravo packets with thin card stock/rare backs. Can anyone find one in their collection? We can argue this either way:
a) Athletes and Presidents are rarer than the main actress series, so even rarer Bravo rare back versions would be very rare indeed - hence none found, so far.
b) Athletes and Presidents were only issued in Between the Acts, not Bravo, so no rare backs will ever be found.
tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #6 
What about that single Ludwig Barnay card with B2 back design?

He was a German actor who made his first appearance in the USA in January 1883. So he is definitely at the later end of the series of rare back cards issued. I have not exhaustively checked this, but at first order it looks about right.

So, it is plausible that the Bravo card stock was updated in 1883 (from design B1) and this is why the B2 design is shown on this card. 

Equally it could have been an experiment or a proof for a new back design. Like the Rigl card, it would be interesting to see if we can find another example?
tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #7 
The final piece of evidence …..

The golden sunray series (N342-4), shown below, had two versions "Between the Acts" and "Bravo".

But only 7 cards are known in the Bravo version (6 with Hall back, 1 with the ATC back), again demonstrating their extreme rareness compared to the Between the Acts brand. In fact, if Half Dime (N497) and Bravo were introduced in c.1891, per the advert, then we also can see that Bravo golden sunray (7 known) and Half Dime (6 known) are both extremely rare, compared to the ongoing success / popularity of the Between the Acts brand.

It also is also worth noting that this relaunch of the Bravo brand in c.1891 shows that the Bravo cigarettes were now marketed as 'all-tobacco', not paper-wrapped - per the wording on the front of the cards.

Below I show the golden sunray cards with Between the Acts and Bravo versions, plus the Half Dime version, which I believe was issued at the same time, with the same portraits.

The relative rarity of the sunray Bravo and Half-dime cards (versus the sunray Between the Acts cards) is a clear parallel with the N342-1 series main Between the Acts cards and the rare back Bravo versions (per my theory).

I rest my case (for now).

sunray plus half dime.jpg

tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #8 
One final point, for now.

The rare backs stop at N342-1. But the N342-2 (black background) have the same style and retain the "Between the Acts & Bravo" front. This series ran for some time, so I can only assume that Bravo was still being sold. So, why have we not seen a rare back version of the N342-2 cards?

Three possibilities present themselves:
(i) By this time, Hall just included the same cards in Bravo as he did in Between the Acts - he should have probably done this earlier!
(ii) The Bravo brand stopped including cards.
(iii) The Bravo cigarettes retained the thin card stock/rare back approach - but we just haven't seen one yet. The black background cards are much scarcer than the N342-1 cards, so this is still a possibility. And, if this is true, I would expect any such case to have the B2 back design, like Ludwig Barnay.

Any more rare back examples out there for N342-2 (black background)?
wheatiesfanatic

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Reply with quote  #9 
Tim, more great research & theories. I do have a Kate Allison with the B2 "Smoke Hall's" back (pictured). Does this mean she was available with both of the rare back designs? Has she been confirmed to have the B1 design back? I had no idea there were only 2 known cards with this back. The Allison picture definitely is an example of how fragile these rare backs are.

Monty IMG_1325.jpg  IMG_1343.jpg 

tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #10 
Hi Monty,

Yes, Kate Allison is listed in CRB151 with rare back B1. And you have one with rare back B2, meaning Kate Allison in theory has examples with both backs. Can someone corroborate the B1 back for Kate Allison?

The other rare back B2 (Ludwig Barnay) is in the Gallery - I think its one of David's cards, shown below.

I think my theory may need some tweaks once we get more examples on these backs!

rare back - epps.jpg 

tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #11 
A further thought.

I was rather hoping the Bravo paper-wrapped cigarettes were marketed at a lower price than Between the Acts all-tobacco cigarettes, which would be add weight to my theory of cheaper card stock for Bravo.

But the advert from 1881 suggests they were on sale at the same price.


As the method of production was quite different for these two types of cigarettes, I could imagine two different factory sites, using different card insertion / printing approaches.

The below clipping is an interesting insight into the all-tobacco versus paper-wrapped cigarette manufacturing debate from the 1880s, featuring our very own Thomas H Hall.

alltobacco tax.jpg

tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #12 
Does anyone know who the mysterious Kate Allison is?

I can't find any trace of an actress/celebrity/performer in my search (from UK-based Google).
wheatiesfanatic

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Reply with quote  #13 
Kate Allison is a complete mystery. Best bet is to try to find her on some old Playbills. Unfortunately, I sold my Playbills collection a few years ago. Anybody out there have her on any other brand of cards?

Monty
wheatiesfanatic

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Reply with quote  #14 
Kate Allison is a complete mystery. Best bet is to try to find her on some old Playbills. Unfortunately, I sold my Playbills collection a few years ago. Anybody out there have her on any other brand of cards?

Monty
wheatiesfanatic

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Reply with quote  #15 
Kate Allison is a complete mystery. Best bet is to try to find her on some old Playbills. Unfortunately, I sold my Playbills collection a few years ago. Anybody out there have her on any other brand of cards?

Monty
tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #16 
Hi Monty,

David Epps has pointed out to me that she is also on a later set of Hall cards, N342-3D. And she is spelt the same way on the second set, "Kate Allison", which reduces the chance its a mis-spelling (Mrs / Katie / Alison / Allinson etc, which I've tried with no success). Two theories:
a) She is Australian - and a rare visitor to UK / USA, where most of the historic information is available
b) She is a family friend / amateur, being given special treatment.
teza

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Reply with quote  #17 
Here's an image of the later Kate Allison image.  I show it as N342-3D (Black/Tan).

I have no other information regarding her career.

Jeff

N342 3D Allison.jpg 

tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #18 
Thanks Jeff - looks like the same portrait as the earlier one.

I've taken a closer look and still can't find any reference to Kate Allison as an actress, including looking at close relatives in Thomas H Hall / Mrs Hall's family tree(s). My Google is UK-biased, so may not pick up what you can find in the USA. I have workarounds for this, but still no success - she remains a mystery!
tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #19 
More information on Bravo being a relatively unsuccessful brand. I've amalgamated 3 clippings into one summary (below), consisting of:
(i) Tobacco - clipping 21 Feb 1890 looking back at the cigarette box history (thanks to Joe Gonsowski for this one)
(ii) Tobacco - clipping 21 March 1890, on the re-launch of Bravo - Thomas H Hall's marketing spin
(iii) Tobacco - clipping 11 April 1890, on the marriage of Thomas H Hall's daughter Adele - more marketing spin!

Presumably this relaunch of Bravo was the one that contained the sunray cards and was the revised all-tobacco cigarette variety. Based on the number of cards known (7), this was not a great success.
By this time, of course, the might of Duke, A&G etc were dominant.

Bravo - tobacco 1890 - 1.jpg

tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #20 
Ok, I’ve noticed a flaw in my reasoning.

It looks as though Bravo was launched at (effectively) half the price of Between the Acts.

Between the Acts had 10 in a packet - confirmed in 2 separate references in the September 1878 adverts.

But Bravo seems to be in boxes of 20, supported by the Tobacco reference above and the special patent design - see separate cigarette boxes thread.

But the price (per advert above) is the same at 12.5cents per package.

So Bravo paper wrapped cigarettes were (seemingly) being marketed as the ‘value’ / low cost brand compared to the all tobacco Between the Acts brand.

This puts the ‘thin card stock = money saving opportunity’ theory back on the table.
tim_uk

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Reply with quote  #21 
Finally found a Bravo advert, this one comes from the launch period of 23 March 1878, and clearly shows the all-tobacco versus paper cigarette brands.

I've also found a B Pollak (N513, Marquis / Jos Koehler etc) equivalent advert from around the same time (dated 1879, not sure of precise day/month).

The two seemed to be competing through 1878 and 1879, before Pollak went out of business in January 1880.

Bravo advert - 23 March 1878.jpg  Pollak advert 1879.jpg

teza

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Reply with quote  #22 
Hi Tim,

The Hall's ad says two things -

1) The best "All-Tobacco" cigarettes for Between the Acts brand, and

2) The best "Rice Paper" cigarette for the Bravo brand.

Jeff  
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