You are in the Special Features section - Taddyclown - Nostalgic Cards, Prints and Collectables

Taddyclown - Nostalgic Cards, Prints and Collectables






Taddy Clown specialise in Nostalgic Cards and Prints, including Mounted and Unmounted traction engine prints, cigarette cards, vanity fair, cricket, golf, football and trading cards.

Here Digger talks to George at Taddyclown about this hobby-turned-business.




Digger: Hello George.

George: Hello David.

Digger: Can you please tell me your background and the background to Taddy Clown?

George: It really comes from my hobby, which I've had for thirty odd years, of collecting cards.

Digger: As a lot of the best businesses do.

George: (Laughs) Yes. And because I've been involved in the card collecting scene, running the East Kent Cigarette Card Club for twenty-five years and doing auctions and so on. I've bought quite a lot of cards and amassed quite a good collection and I just love dealing with cards, full stop. So when the time came for me to say "Right, I'm giving up my day job..."

Digger: What was the day job as a matter of interest?

George: I was a Group/Corporate Accountant. I left the big corporate stuff about twelve years ago and worked with some farming cooperatives but I just got so fed up with accountancy and thought "Let's get into what I'm interested in" which is cards and nostalgic prints and things like that.

Digger: You're only here once.

George: Exactly, and that's why really. Certainly not for financial reasons.

Digger: Can you just explain about the Taddy Clown name because a lot of people won't know what that refers to.

George: If you're a card collector you would know the name Taddy - James Taddy and Co were the best producer of quality English Cigarette Cards and they competed with the American ones for quality. Cigarette Cards started in America in 1883 and then came over to this country in the 1890s. James Taddy and Co were really the best and all their cards are very sought after. James Taddy and Co closed down in 1921 when his employees wanted to join the union and the bosses said "If you join the union, we're already paying above union rates and we'll just close down." They joined the union and Taddy closed down and at that time the latest set of theirs was circuses and clowns and artistes which were actually at the printers and so it never got released. But some 'escaped' from the printers.

Digger: Escaped, a lovely word.

George: Yes, escaped from the printers. So if you're a collector then everybody knows Taddy.

Digger: And it's kind of the Holy Grail for collectors?

George: It was the last set and they sell for £500-£2,000 per card if you can authenticate them.

Digger: How many were there in the final set?

George: Twenty. If you've got the full set then people have paid £30,000 for a set in the past, but that is in the past and I haven't seen a set up for sale in ages. So because I was a lover of Cartophily, which is a love of Cigarette Card collecting...

Digger: I thought it was a Greek Island.

George: (Laughs)

Digger: Were these companies trying to encourage people to smoke or trying to lock them into their brands?

George: It was really to lock them into the brands. There was no bad publicity about smoking until the sixties really.

Digger: Were you a smoker?

George: I used to be but not now. I gave up years ago.

Digger: Yes same here.

George: And it's nothing to do with smoking because most card collectors are non-smokers and there's a lot of doctors who collect Cigarette Cards as well.

Digger: There's a lot of non-smokers who collect Tobacciana as well.

George: Oh yes. But the reason is, when you look at the cards, they're phenomenally well printed as well, you know? And you can learn a lot from the cards.

Digger: Would it be appropriate to ask about the tea cards and the bubblegum cards? Because they were collected a lot in my youth.

George: You can ask about those but I don't know much about them. As far as I was concerned they were rubbish because the post-war tea cards and bubble gum cards were inferior in quality compared to the Cigarette Cards. I never collected them when I was a kid and it was only about 35 years ago I started collecting Cigarette Cards. No, I've never been into them and Brooke Bond tea cards are just awful - they're printed by the million and very cheaply and there are loads of them around and they're just not very good. It's a fact of life that the best printing was in the Victorian times and then, as time went on and labour costs went up, the printing got worse and worse.

Digger: The Victorians knew a thing or two. I heard that when people used to go on holiday from the big city to the seaside they would send a postcard to let people at home know what time they'd be back.

George: Yes, definitely. I collect postcards as well and they would often say "I'll be there tomorrow at 12:30. I'm going to put a letter in the post." And the letter in the post took longer than the postcards. The postcards always got there really quickly."

Digger: It was like the text of its day.

George: Oh yes.

Digger: What's on offer on your website George?

George: I've got a very wide range. Originally I started off with all original Cigarette Cards, both singles and sets. And we're talking generally rarer material from the Victorian and Edwardian periods.

Digger: Was this you as a collector trying to move on some of your collection?

George: I've been doing auctions for years and have amassed a collection and lots of duplicates but it was as a service for East Kent Cigarette Card Club members to sell their unwanted sets and cards. It was for that.

Digger: Do these people tend to be of a certain age and a certain gender?!

George: Unfortunately, the gender's male and the age is even older than me and I'm 63. The average card collector.

Digger: What about the youngsters? Are they coming on through as collectors?








George: Well, the funny thing is we had a meeting last week and the three youngest members of the club were there and the youngest one is 35. They're 35, 36 and 38.

Digger: Young men!

George: That 35 year old started when he was thirteen, but no. There aren't any younger than that and there aren't new ones coming through and we're losing several a year through 'natural wastage'.

Digger: As a consequence you're moving it out into other areas?

George: I am moving it out because, having decided to quit accountancy, I decided to get commercial on this and I've proceeded to buy commercial material and to market it and it really is The Internet that has caused that.

Digger: It's amazing isn't it?

George: It is amazing. Because I discovered eBay in 2004 and I bought some things off it and I thought "There's a whole world out there with people buying cards." So what I've done is actually put cards on for card collectors, but when you bear in mind that most people who are going to pay £200-£300 for a set of cards are older than me and probably frightened of computers. They're not going to go on the website and buy them. So I started selling cards thematically. I sold football cards to football team followers so a West Bromwich Albion fan will buy Baggies players.

Digger: Somebody who's got no particular interest in cards?

George: Yes, no interest in cards but a particular interest in West Brom and cards featuring their players or a print of the West Brom football team from when their granddad was in it. And there's a lot of that going on and that's where the business is really building.

Digger: That's good, isn't it?

George: Yes.

Digger: There's a gentleman who is about to promote on our site and he's got a vast array of images which are combined from the various photo and image archives available as prints and canvases and he says the same thing. He's picking customers up from all different keywords and there's no specific thing at all - people buy images for all sorts of reasons and most often it's because they like the image or it means something to them. And that's what you're tapping into.

George: Yes it is.

Digger: That's the accountant in you and the business mind.

George: Well, I'm an accountant and have spent a lot of time with companies trying to help them make money and stopping them from making financial mistakes and so on.

Digger: And if you're going to do something you might as well do it properly.

George: Exactly.

Digger: So you're in Kent but you're picking up business worldwide?

George: Half of my market is outside of England - it's America and Australia.

Digger: It's weird isn't it? Because there used to be a thing on The Internet for the first few years I was on here - a fear from people for doing business outside of their territory as it were.

George: I think the problem was about payments. What has actually secured it is Paypal and as an accountant when I had to transfer money abroad years ago it was a nightmare. It was costly and it took time and you were never guaranteed that it was there. With Paypal it's instant and you can see it, they can see they've received it and that you sent it and it's wonderful.

Digger: It's seamless as they say.

George: Seamless and that has been the big thing. Because Americans particularly - they don't trust anybody, only sixteen percent of them have passports and they think the whole world is wild. But they realise now and you can buy or sell on The Internet and get your money with no problems. That's where the big culture change has been, I think.

Digger: Why do you think Retro and Nostalgia are so big with everyone these days George?

George: I'm not sure about that but it's certainly picking up and with the way I'm going with my modern stuff, I'm hoping I'm going to benefit from that. Because I've recently had a massive purchase of modern cards and reproduction cards and I'm adding value. I'm going into putting them onto styrene, which is like Perspex, and mounting them on there and sending them through the post. So it's not like glass which would break. I've got some very nice styrene mounted sets and part sets which people in America can get and they can buy a frame locally and put it on their wall.

Digger: You say modern and repro - how does that work?

George: I have the largest stock of reproduction cards in the world. I can quite clearly say that because I bought them all this year from Murray Cards Ltd, which was the largest dealer in the world, and they closed down last Christmas. So I've got those and a lot of those are very mountable, they look very good especially if you put them on the wall. There's cats and dogs and cars and Muhammad Ali and The Beatles and all sorts of things. As a set of cards - we've done some market research around north Kent - I've taken on a sales manager now as well and we have shown people the cards and they said "Oh, they're nice." And when we asked if they'd buy them they say "Well, might do." But when you show them the same ones mounted they say "Oh yes, I'd buy that." Their sister or husband or whatever would be really pleased with it.

Digger: What are they going for?

George: For an 8x10 mount we're looking at £8.95 and it's a good price. And about £15 for the bigger ones.

Digger: I have bought sets of 8 cards mounted at an antiques place in Woburn and paid over £40 for them. Lady film stars from the thirties and vintage cars and so on.

George: We have the mount and the backing so you can see the fronts and the backs of the cards and then you buy the frame to suit you, because you can never pick a frame which is going to be universally popular. If people want bespoke sets that will cost more but we're looking at standard British sizes for £8.95. We have bought equipment to make these and with a new sales manager we have this on a professional footing. They're not available on the website yet but they will be soon.

Digger: You're going for it.

George: Yes, when you've got literally tens of thousands of sets of cards you've got an incentive.

Digger: (Laughs) You want to be able to see the sunshine through the windows o your room again?

George: Yes.

Digger: What items tend to be the most sought after apart from the Taddys themselves....

George: I sell a lot on eBay as Taddyclown - I suppose I'm selling mainly sporting-themed cards on there - sets and odd cards. Also cars and motorbikes, some really beautiful ones.

Digger: Do you find, like me, that eBay is a blessing and a curse?

George: Yes, a curse because they got more and more expensive and Big Brotherish and a blessing because you never know who's looking at it and I have built up a nice regular clientele.

Digger: Do they expect things a bit on the cheap?

George: I'm quite clear. The way I work is that I put the price I want and that's it. If it doesn't sell then I've got it for another day. But if I had a set for £20 and I put it on for £0.99p and somebody snapped it up at the last minute I'd be very annoyed so I won't do that.

Digger: What are the best and most enjoyable aspects of what you're doing George?

George: I just love dealing with cards and sometimes seeing cards that I've never seen before. You know I mentioned this collection I'd bought from Murrays? In there were modern trade cards from the 1990s, and there are some wonderful cards there. Mainly cricket and football and they're well produced by small British companies - most of which are out of business now, so obviously they didn't make it. But they actually made some very nice material, so that's what I'll be putting onto these styrene mounts in the next few months.

Digger: I don't suppose any of the companies that were producing these cards going back to the old days are still in existence in any form either?

George: Not that I know of. There were the tobacco wars at the beginning of the 20th century where the big companies snapped up all of the smaller companies. By the 1930s it had gone down to Wills, Gallagher, Players and Carreras. And I suppose they're still going but I know nothing about the modern tobacco industry at all. I presume they've all been incorporated into BAT. Gallagher's is still going.

Digger: So, what about the future?

George: It really is majoring on The Internet but we're building a big local presence, now I've got the sales manager on board - he's a non card man and his attitude is from a pure salesman point of view. He is being objective and saying let's build up a local presence i.e. Kent, because Kent is not impoverished really. We have the commuter belt and we're near Whitstable and people around here love to buy nostalgic material. So I'm still going to sell authentic Cigarette Cards to whatever market there is. But the future is selling nostalgic prints such as Vanity Fare prints and I have bought all of those that were produced in the 1980s.

Digger: In a worst case you've got the rights and the archives to a wealth of images and that's got to be worth a lot.

George: I must admit I still think as an accountant and if I was successful for five years and built up a successful business then if it was saleable as a business then I would sell it. That's not the be-all-and-end-all but that would be a nice culmination.

Digger: When you do truly retire what would you do?

George: I actually don't think of truly retiring. I actually love this so much I'm not going to end up in the garden all of the time. I do a lot of gardening anyway because I've got over am acre so I do my share in there but I'm very active and while I can be like that I will.

Digger: Are you getting lots of orders queued up from abroad when you come in each morning?

George: Yes, I look at eBay before I leave home and get the paperwork ready and then send them out when I get in. My office is on a very secure M.O.D. site so access is not allowed unless I invite somebody in.

Digger: A good move.

George: Very good because we've got 24/7 security and I've got a high value of stock here.

Digger: It's been great talking to you George and learning about Taddy Clown.

George: And you David.





  Taddy Clown - nostalgic cards, prints and other collectables

Taddy Clown specialise in Nostalgic Cards and Prints, including Mounted and Unmounted traction engine prints, cigarette cards, vanity fair, cricket, golf, football and trading cards. We are located in Whitstable, Kent.

  • Cigarette & Trade Cards Rare & High Value Sets
  • Original Sets
  • Original Rare Odds
  • Reproduction Sets
  • Modern Collectors Cards
  • Liebig
  • Prints - Mounted
  • Prints - Unmounted
  • Heritage Playing Cards
  • Mounted Postcards
  • Books
  • Other Bits & Bobs

If your interest is in nostalgic cards, prints and other collectables, then you have come to the right place. Please browse through the ‘Information Sections’ in order to see why we are here and what we have to offer now and in the future. A look at the site map will show the named categories in greater detail.
We have listed a range of stock items of prints, mounted cards and collectable cards and new items are added daily.
We now have over 3000 items covering all the 'Categories' shown above. So if you are looking for rare cigarette cards or beautiful nostalgic prints, we have something to tempt you.

Telephone: 01227 282200

Fax: 01227 770400


www: Taddy Clown







This page layout and content  is the intellectual property of and cannot be reproduced without express permission. 

We are not responsible for the content of external websites.

If we have inadvertently used any image on this web site which is in copyright and for which we, or our retailers on our behalf, do not have permission for use, please contact us so that we can rectify the situation immediately. Images in this article are, to the best of our knowledge, either in the public domain or copyrighted where indicated. 

Home Page | About | Contact | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy