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Player’s Irish Place Names Cigarette Cards

Identifier: MSE/IR 1048

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of a full set of the first series of Player’s Irish Place Names Cigarette Cards. Comprising twenty-five cards, each card was illustrated by Jack B. Yeats with place names in both English and Irish. The verso of each card briefly explores the etymology and history of each place name.


  • Creation: 1934


Language of Materials

Each card includes the Irish version of its respective place name and a discussion of the Irish etymology in English. For the Irish place names, Player's orthography has been preserved in the item descriptions.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Founded in 1877 with John Player’s (1839-1884) purchase of a local tobacco manufacturer in Nottingham England, John Player & Sons was one of numerous small tobacco companies operating in the United Kingdom in the late nineteenth century. In 1901, faced with the threat of being bought out by the American Tobacco Company, thirteen of these small British tobacco companies, including John Player & Sons, were voluntarily amalgamated into the Imperial Tobacco Company, which retained the original brands as subsidiaries.

In the 1870s American tobacco firms began to add blank cards known as “stiffeners'' to their packaging to protect cigarettes. Industrialist James Buchanan Duke (1856 - 1925) would exchange the blank cards for collectible cards in 1879, with most American tobacco companies issuing their own collectible cards soon after. In 1893, John Player & Sons followed suit. Player’s generally produced their cards in a series of fifty cards relating to popular culture, though series of twenty-five were not unusual. During World War One due to shortages production of cigarette cards was discontinued; they reappeared in 1922 with a resurgence in popularity throughout the 20s and 30s.

Biographical / Historical

Painter Jack B. Yeats (1871–1957) was born in London in 1871, the youngest son of Anglo-Irish parents John Butler Yeats (1839 - 1922) and Susan Pollexfen (1841–1900). Yeats’ older brother was the renowned poet William Butler Yeats. As a child he lived in Sligo with his maternal grandparents, rejoining his parents in London in 1887. Yeats was privately educated in Sligo, then attended various art schools in London, including the Westminster Academy of Art. During his time at the Chiswick School of Art, Yeats met his wife Mary Cottenham White, whom he married in 1894.

Initially a water-color painter, Yeats began to use oils in 1906. In the 1920s he altered his style yet again and began to experiment with modernism. He utilized more vibrant colors and favored more modern subjects, such as circuses, music halls, scenes from Irish mythology, and landscapes scenes of the West of Ireland. He also continued to produce commercial art for publications and advertising.

Yeats died 27 March 1957 and is buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin.


0.5 Cubic Feet (Legal Document Box)


Cards arranged alphabetically by Anglicized place name.

Lauren Jean
14 March 2022
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556