In the last years of the nineteenth century an American tobacco company, Allen and Ginter, began inserting plain cards called 'stiffeners' into packets of cigarettes to protect their products from being crushed.
What seemed at the time like an inconsequential product development was swiftly exploited for commercial purposes: to advertise other products and then illustrate the cards with popular personalities.
These collectables swiftly became a phenomenon and crossed to the other side of the Atlantic.
These cards were decorated by many different subjects: politicians, actors, writers, poets and sporting personalities, most significantly footballers.
A craze that lasted for more than half a century was born. In an era before the widespread use of photography in print media and when the game was seldom captured by motion film, cigarette cards were often the most enduring portrayal of football's stars in the early twentieth century.
Small boys would collect these cards from family and friends.
Teams would be formed and, in a fore- runner of today's fantasy football games, the cards would be swapped and traded to see who could assemble the best team.Today they provide a compelling insight into a bygone era. Now, in The Redmen of Liverpool FC, Rowlands has shared his passion.
Featuring every single Liverpool player featured in this medium, along with biographical details and contextual notes, Rowlands tells the story of the cigarette card craze.
Presented in full colour, Redmen is a richly illustrated and deeply evocative window into one of football's bygone eras and an essential reference for every Liverpool fan.