Cigarette cards up for auction in Thorpe St Andrew
It is a collection spanning decades which has been fuelled by a lifetime of passion.
But now more than 100 sheets of uncut cigarette cards, printed on silk, are set to go under the hammer in Thorpe St Andrew this weekend.
Brandishing colourful images depicting love and loss in the time of the war, the collection is one of the rarest in the country.
Gary Barnes, principal auctioneer, said: 'We are only selling the uncut ones.
'To have sheets of cigarette cards not cut up is very rare – it's the largest collection in the country.'
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The collection, which will be sold in about 100 lots, is expected to fetch up to �50,000 when it is auctioned on Sunday.
'The owner, who is retired now, has devoted his entire life to collecting these cards and he was so passionate about what he collected,' said Mr Barnes.
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'But recently he lost his wife and the whole collection was put into perspective.
'He wants to sell the collection, buy a boat and sail into the sunset.'
The cards were inserted into cigarette boxes in the early 1900s to stiffen the packaging and advertise brands.
'I think that some of the lots will go for a couple of hundred pounds and the others will go for a couple of thousand,' Mr Barnes added.
'It's a very interesting collection and we are delighted to have been instructed to sell them.'
The cards were produced between 1890 and 1920. 'From 1914 to 1918 people were separated from their loved ones,' Mr Barnes said.
'It's not just a collection of cigarette cards but a snapshot into social history and how things were back then.
'The wonderful thing is that they are all in mint condition.
'A majority of them are framed and in mint condition.
'They are extremely rare and there is a huge quantity and we have had interest from all over the country and from overseas.'
An advanced viewing session will be held tomorrow from 4pm-8pm at Roxley Hall in Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew. The auction will be held at 2pm on Sunday.