The card that never was

It has been said that any large collection of cards will have a card or two in it that has not been recorded. Given the large number of cards issued, this is not really surprising. But what would be surprising would be for sets to be recorded which donít exist. After all, how could someone record a card which he has never been able to see?

Surprising as it might be, I have found various sets of German cards which are listed in both the World Index and Köberich but which I canít get my hands on neither for love nor money. Eventually I have come to the conclusion that these sets donít exist. Unlikely as it may seem, I believe there are very good reasons why such sets make it into the catalogues as I will explain below.

One example of such a set is the version of "Der Weltkrieg" (The World War) issued by Martin Brinkmann of Bremen. This set was issued by a large number of manufacturers and I am aware of 18 different backs including some very scarce ones. Brinkmann was a large issuer of cards and there is no reason to think that this version should be particularly scarce. There are still large numbers of cards from this set around even nowadays but so far I have been unable to obtain even a single card with the Brinkmann back. Despite this, the set is listed in both the World Index and Köberich. However when one examines the World Index more closely it turns out that this entry was taken over from Köberich without checking. So obviously we have to look at the German catalogue to try to understand further where this entry came from.

In the 1930s quite a lot of cigarette companies amalgamated but carried on using the old brand and manufacturers names. I assume Brinkmann is one such example and that at some time in the 1930s Brinkmann amalgamated with another company, Yosma, also of Bremen. Cards were issued by Brinkmann but using the Yosma name. Köberich, knowing the history of these companies, lists all Yosma cards under Brinkmann despite the fact that only Yosma is mentioned on the back of the card. This is fine if you know your history but unfortunately not much use if you have a Yosma card in front of you and are trying to identify it. And that I believe is the answer. There are no cards with "Brinkmann" on the back. The "Brinkmann" version is actually the one with "Yosma" on the back.

I know from personal experience that Köberich classifies cards according to who he thinks issued them rather than what it actually says on the card. Once I discovered a version of "Die deutsche Wehrmacht" issued by the Constantin company which is not listed in his catalogue. I pointed it out to him but received the reply that by the time the set was issued Constantin had amalgamated with other companies. As the other versions were there the Constantin version was implicitly also covered and didnít need to be put in the catalogue explicitly.

Another source of confusion is the fact that Germans generally collect cards stuck in albums and sometimes the title of the album is different to the title on the cards. Not only that but once stuck in an album it is not possible to see which cards one actually has. Not only did collectors tend to fill up empty spaces with any odd cards they happened to have but sometimes they stuck cards in albums which were intended for completely different sets. I believe that this has caused confusion with the film pictures issued under the "Ramses" brand name by the Jasmatzi company. The World Index lists seven different sets of these. I have only ever seen four. However series 1 for example bears the title Film Photos Series 1 on the back of the cards whereas the corresponding album is called Filmalbum 1. Köberich lists both of these as different sets. To confuse things even more, he lists Filmalbum 1 as being the same as Josetti Filmbilder series 1 which as far as I can see it isnít. This makes me think he probably had a Jasmatzi album that someone had stuck Josetti cards in. Once again the World Index took the information from Köberich without checking.

It is also tempting to assume that because a company issued for example series 1 and 3 of a given topic that they must also have issued a series 2. However this does not appear to be true in practice. For example in the case of the above Ramses sets, Filmphotos 1 (album title Filmalbum 1) is numbered 1 Ė 240 and Filmphotos 3 (album title Filmalbum 3) is numbered 241-480, obviously following on directly from series 1. I donít believe there is a Filmphotos series 2 but that doesnít stop Köberich listing it presumably on the assumption that it ought to exist. Filmphotos 2 should not be confused with Filmbilder 2 with 272 cards numbered 273-544, which is also listed by Köberich and when stuck in an album was known as Filmalbum 2 and is thus the real "missing link". The same is true with the Hänsom Filmbilder, also issued by Jasmatzi. There was a group of 6 film star sets issued in general by Batschari, Jasmatzi and Manoli. Jasmatzi issued sets 1 and 3 (and 4, 5 and 6) but apparently set 2 was issued only by Batschari and Manoli. Even so, Köberich lists a Jasmatzi set 2 although as far as I can ascertain there isnít one.

Köberich also lists sets which he has simply invented. This is to provide a check of who takes information from his catalogue without acknowledging him. For obvious reasons I won't tell you which sets those are. By the way, including disinformation is a common tactic and anyone thinking of plagiarising German Cards should beware.

There are many more sets which I have been unable to obtain examples of. It generally turns out that these are not in the early versions of the World Index and only appear in later editions when they were taken over from Köberich without checking. I believe that all such sets in the World Index should be treated with utmost suspicion. After all, there must be some reason why the compilers never saw them. Until proved otherwise, I will assume that these are sets that never were. However there is one set which appears to have been invented by EWT. With respect to the Aurelia Olympia Flags sets 1 and 2, Gordon Howsden pointed out to me that the Adria issue is listed in the World Index as having 350 cards. This would correspond to both the Aurelia sets which have a total of 350 cards. However Köberich lists this set as having 200 cards and being the same as the Aurelia set 1. I have also only ever seen cards from this set which were the same as Aurelia set 1 and never any from set 2. I suspect this entry is in error and is presumably an assumption based on having seen only a few Adria cards. Maybe someone with access to the Wharton-Tigar collection could check which cards were actually seen.

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