In Pictures: Old Cigarette Ads

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 24 months ago
In Pictures: Old Cigarette Ads

Forget Marlboro reds and vapes; London was once an empire of cigarettes with all kinds of strange names and claims — flaunted in the dailies, and given away as prizes to kids. We've dug into the archives to find some of the most interesting brands promoted in London-based newspapers. You'll need to pop out for some air after getting through this lot.

London-centric cigarettes

A quintessential London cigarette, Piccadillies were made by Carreras, famous for their art deco factory in Mornington Crescent. You can still buy the brand now. Daily Herald, 3 January 1945. Image © The British Library Board.

Greys cigarettes, made in London, used the image of a dragoon — a mounted infantry that later became part of the Blues and Royals. Daily Mirror, 15 March 1941. Image © Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of The British Library Board.

Aww, look at the cute cartoon cat smoking. Black Cats were another brand made by Carreras, and apparently got their name from a cat that was often to be seen asleep in the window of Carreras's shop in Wardour Street. The People, 10 March 1940. © Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of The British Library Board.

Exotically-named cigarettes

The Graphic, 14 March 1903. Image © The British Library Board.

De Reszke cigarettes were named after Jean de Reszke, the Polish opera singer, and were produced by J Millhoff, a Russian living in London. The Era. 14 May 1919. Image © The British Library Board.

Typewriter with your butterfly? From The Graphic, 14 September 1901. Image © The British Library Board.

You can still get State Express cigarettes today. The Graphic, 23 November 1907. Image © The British Library Board.

Ah, the days of harmless guns and harmless cigarettes. The Graphic, 3 October 1908.

Oddly-named cigarettes

'What's that smell? Hang on, don't tell me... it's nuns'. The Graphic, 20 May 1905. Image © The British Library Board.

London Daily News, 21 June 1910.

If you can get to the end of this ad from the Daily Herald in 15 April 1914, you deserve a cigarette. Image © Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of The British Library Board.

Cigarettes for the war effort

During both world wars, cigarette funds were set up to ensure soldiers had all the smokes they needed. And as the second ad here states, they were to be decent cigarettes — not any old rubbish.

The Era, 10 February 1915.

Daily Herald, 11 November 1939. © Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of The British Library Board.

The cigarettes making bold claims

That old chestnut. The Graphic, 1 February 1902. Image © The British Library Board.

'Passport — check. Sun cream — check. 50-pack of Solaces — check.' London Daily News, 16 August 1909.

Our old friends State Express again. The Graphic, 30 September 1905. Image © The British Library Board.

Really? The Graphic, 20 January 1900. Image © The British Library Board.

The anti-cigarette articles

We may think of olden times folk chuffing away on ciggies in the belief that they were actually good for them. However, plenty realised their detrimental effect — physical and otherwise.

London Daily News, 29 September 1905. Image © The British Library Board.

London Daily News, 7 November 1905. Image © The British Library Board.

Smoking is bad for your horse too. St James's Gazette, 19 August 1898. Image © The British Library Board.

And the film about a cigarette we really want to see

Oh Herbert. The Era, 13 March 1909.

Last Updated 01 February 2016

Juno

There are still lots of black cats on the front of Carrera's art deco building. Cute.

Interesting to see them doing different tobaccos in summer and winter, as they used to do for petrol as well.