Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Cigarette cards revisited

Posted by Martin on May 24, 2011

No. 15: Officer, 1813, 5th (Brandenburg) Regiment of Dragoons.

No. 15: Officer, 1813, 5th (Brandenburg) Regiment of Dragoons.

Back in 2009, you may recall that I experimented with photographing a Prussian Landwehr drummer from a set of cigarette cards. At the time, I had it in mind to photograph the whole set and post them here on BfK but I never got round to it because I had white balance issues with the photographs. Recently, we upgraded our printer at BfK HQ to a swanky new wireless one that can also be used as a scanner. So, tonight, I dropped another one of the cards from the set under the scanner to see how it would turn out. I’ve got to say that the results are excellent and incredibly quick and easy to achieve.

So, for the record, this is card no. 18 of a set of 24 entitled “Napoleonic Uniforms” from Doncella (a division of John Player and Sons, Imperial Tobacco Limited). The set was issued in 1980 and it was probably actually issued with cigars rather than cigarettes. For your interest the blurb on the back of the card reads:

The painting from which this study is taken is entitled ‘Aftermath of the Peoples’ Battle of Leipzig, 16-19th October 1813′. It shows a mixed group of civilian and uniformed figures resting, tending the wounded and embracing each other after three days of intensive, close-quarter fighting in the streets of the city, at the end of which Napoleon was forced to withdraw across the Elbe to avoid encirclement. The officer polishing his sword wears a single-breasted ‘leibrock’ in the distinctive light blue of the Prussian dragoon regiments, with the standard grey overalls (trousers) worn by all ranks and a cloth cap, or feldmutze, often worn on campaign in place of the heavier shako. The cap band, collar and cuffs are in the regimental colour of black.

As I noted with the cigarette card of the drummer, there are some errors in the historical accuracy of the uniform information but the illustration is executed with some panache. I’d be interested to know more about the painting referred to in the blurb, if anybody has details.

Now that I’ve found a quick and way to get good quality images of these cigarette cards, you can expect the rest of the set to follow in due course.

5 Responses to “Cigarette cards revisited”

  1. Ralph said

    I’ve always struggled with the exact shade of Prussian Dragoon blue – this one seems more ‘aquamarine’ than most sources…Most interesting…

    • Ralph said

      Just done a little research. On the Calpe website Peter F describes the colour of Dragoons as a ‘distinctive mid blue shade’, and he recommends Vallejo’s Medium Blue, 963 (70963 down under).

      To my eye, and colour is nothing if not subjective, the Vallejo colour is much darker than that depicted in the cigarette card. However it is a close match to the colour depicted in Ugo Pericoli’s ‘The Armies at Waterloo’ for Prussian Dragoons; whilst Peter Hofschorer in Osprey’s MAA 172 has his a shade darker yet, almost dark blue. So I will continue to stick with the 963 paint.

      After all, how rigourous is the research that goes into printing off cigarette cards?!

      • Martin said

        I wouldn’t place too much faith in the rigour of cigarette card artists’ research. I have the advantage of having all the other cards in this set and I can tell you that are quite a number of errors that would have us Napoleonic uniformology enthusiasts frothing at the mouth. Like you, Ralph, I’d stick with Vallejo 963 as the midtone in my painting palette for dragoons.

  2. rob said

    Of course, this just whets the appetite for the redone Calpe Dragoons that have been rumoured for so long. New dragoons with Peter’s new headsculpts would be great!


  3. David said

    I have these in the form of postcards given away years ago (a loong time ago!) with the Nottingham Evening Post, sparked my interest in Napoleonics!

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