Starting back in the late 1800’s and continuing up until the 1930’s, tobacco companies would often package little trading cards with their packs of cigarettes. These were, of course, the precursor to ‘bubble-gum’ cards which I, and many others, collected in our youths. The cigarette cards covered a wide variety of subjects from actors/actresses to business men to sports figures to many, many more.
This particular item is #40 in Wills’s Cigarettes line of “Do You Know” which presented interesting facts much in the same way that Ripley’s Believe It or Not also did in the newspapers. The card dates from the first series of “Do You Know” which was released in 1922. There were four series of these cards dating from 1922, 1924, 1926 and 1933. The card itself is quite small (in order to fit into a cigarette pack) and measures only 1 7/16 inches by 2 11/16 inches. The text reads:
“The great expanse of floating seaweed (Sargassum) is nearly as large as Europe, and was formed by the Gulf Stream and the Equatorial Current, off the Coast of Florida. It was discovered in 1492 by Columbus, who was delayed in it for a fortnight. For centuries afterwards weird tales were told of ships being caught and lost in this dreaded tangle of Gulf-weed. In 1910, the Norwegian Govt. sent an expedition to explore the Sargasso Sea. It was then found that the weed did not extend in one dense mass, but that it occurred in patches, some of them covering an immense area.”
Wills’s was a UK tobacco company and, although many of their cards are quite valuable and collectible, this one is not. Still, it is an interesting look at how, even in 1922, the Sargasso Sea still captured the imagination of many!.