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Below is a transcript of a letter from Washington Duke to son
James B. Duke regarding the use of "lascivious photographs" on
insert cards as an
"inducement" to the public to purchase W. Duke Sons, & Co. cigarettes.
One of the most effective advertising methods created by James B.
Duke was the inclusion of trade cards in each packet of cigarettes.
These are the direct ancestors to our current baseball and Pokémon
trading cards - with the same objective to encourage the customer to
collect as many as possible. Ranging from "Histories of Civil War
Generals" to "Coins of All Nations" series the most popular card
subjects were pictures of women ('actresses'), usually scantily clad.
Many images on the trade cards are of unidentified women in a variety
of costumes. However, famous actresses of that time such as Lillie
Langtry and Ellen Terry were featured in various series.
October 17th, 1894
[JB Duke, NY]
My dear Son: -
I have received the enclosed letter from the Rev. John C. Hocutt,
and am very much impressed with the wisdom of his argument against
circulating lascivious photographs with cigarettes, and have made
up my mind to bring the matter to your attention in the interest of
morality, and in the hope that you can invent a proper substitute for
these pictures which will answer your requirements as an advertisement
as well as an inducement to purchase. His views are so thoroughly and
plainly stated that I do not know how that I can add anything except to
state that they accord with my own, and that I have always looked upon
the distribution of this character of advertisement as wrong in its
pernicious effects upon young man and womanhood, and therefore has not
jingled with my religious impulses. Outside of the fact that we owe
christianity all the assistance we can lend it in any form, which is
paramount to any other consideration, I am fully convinced that this
mode of advertising will be used and greatly streghten [sic, "strengthen"]
the arguments against cigarettes in the legislative halls of the States.
I hope you will consider this carefully and appreciate my side of the
question. It would please me very much to know that a change had been made.
Affectionately, your father,
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Source: Letterbook, Benjamin N. Duke Papers.
A project of the Digital Scriptorium
Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library
© 2000 Duke University. All rights reserved.
Statement on Use and Reproduction