The albums explained
In order to encourage people to collect the Inserts, the Gremio commissioned a number of specially designed albums and sheets, which could be purchased from various outlets :
- Individual sheets were available for Series 1 through 16 inclusive, eight sheets for each Series
- Albums were available for Series 18 through 31 inclusive and the Special Series
Note that no sheets or albums exist for Series 17, 32, 33, A, B or C.
A number of unofficial albums were also available.
These are individual sheets of card, illustrated with lavish art nouveau images onto which the collector could mount the individual Inserts for Series 1 to 16. They were designed like album pages but without a cover. Spaces were left within the design in the form of a full or dotted line of the approximate size and outline of the Inserts. Eight sheets formed a set for each series (except Series 10 and 11 which had only six sheets). On almost every sheet the “Series Number” and “Sheet Number” were printed. Each sheet measures approximately 325 mm x 265 mm.
Click here to see all the collectors’ sheets.
These sheets were available from 1897 until 1900, when the Gremio replaced them with Albums. During the changeover it appears that Series 17 was omitted. One of the reasons to change from individual sheets to albums was because the artists were making more money from the individual sheets than the Gremio were, but the Gremio could control the revenue from the albums directly. Note also that the sheets for Series 1 to 6 were initially printed in 1897 and then re-printed in 1898, leading to some printing variations.
The albums for Series 18 to 31 and the Special Series are made of card, lavishly decorated in pastel colours. The covers are the same thickness as the pages, all held together by two staples. Sizes of the albums vary slightly but measure approximately 330 mm x 234 mm.
Printed inside the front cover was a “Prologo” (‘prologue’ in English) and inside the back cover was a list of the titles for each Insert in the Series. Spaces were provided within the album for each Insert to be mounted, next to which was printed, in Spanish, a full description of the subject of each card.
Click here to see all the collectors’ albums.
These albums were available from 1900 until 1908, when the Gremio’s contract with the government ended, and Series 31 was the last album to be printed. Although Series 32, 33, A, B and C were planned by 1908 (and were later issued by the Hacienda), it appears that the end of the Gremio’s contract meant that no albums for these Series were designed or issued.
THE FRONT OF THE ALBUMS
The album covers were produced in four designs, as shown in the table below.
All the front covers of the albums have “DE LAS CAJAS DE CERILLAS” (meaning ‘from the boxes of matches’) and “ALBUM BIOGRÁFICO PARA COLLECCIONARLAS” (‘biographical album for collecting them’) printed on them. Click here to see the front pages of all the Series.
THE BACK OF THE ALBUMS
The backs of the albums are particularly interesting, because each one lists the albums currently available and their purchase price. Some albums also advertised the next available Series and where to pre-order them from. Click here to see the rear pages of all the Albums.
These pages tell a story of the popularity of the albums. For example, by the time of Series 22 all of the the albums for Series 18 had sold out. Similarly, Series 22 had sold out by the time of Series 23, but apparently was available again by the time of Series Especial so perhaps was reprinted.
The back of the album for Series 31 is particularly important for collectors, because it gives the most comprehensive list of all the ‘official’ album titles.
The Gremio employed more than a dozen different artists to illustrate the sheets and albums. Click here for more information on these artists.