Articles About Trade Cards
Baron Munchausen Trade Cards


by Ben Crane








Baron Munchausen, whose full name was Karl Friedrich Hieronymous von Munchausen, lived from 1720 to 1797. He served as a cavalry captain with a Russian regiment in two Turkish wars, and was known during his lifetime as an excellent raconteur of tales about war, hunting and travel adventures.

From 1781 to 1783 a collection of such tales was published, with authorship generally attributed to the baron. An English version of the tales was published in 1785 under the title Baron Munchausen's Narrative of His Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia. Only years later in 1824 was it revealed that the author of the English edition was Rudolph Erich Raspe (1737-1794). Other authors used these stories as source material to exaggerate still further or to compose other tall tales of a similar mode. Gradually Munchhausen's name became associated with the amusingly preposterous story or the lie winningly told.

More recently, Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame wrote and directed the 1988 movie, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, based on the baron's exploits. An earlier film, Baron Munchausen, was produced in 1943 and was only the fourth color film produced in Germany.

The baron also left his mark in medical circles. The Munchausen syndrome, named after him, is defined as a condition characterized by the feigning of the symptoms of a disease or injury in order to undergo diagnostic tests, hospitalization, or medical or surgical treatment .

The 10 trade cards shown here comprise a set advertising Little Joker Tobacco and printed by A. Hoen & Co., Baltimore, MD.

Card 1 shows Munchausen's bust and the other 9 cards illustrate some of his exploits. The reverse side of each card has a 24-line verse telling how the Little Joker accompanied the baron on his journeys, giving him advice and showing him how to get out of scrapes. The object the Little Joker carries appears to be a pipe with a hinged cover (see card 7).

The scarcity of these cards, particularly card 1, makes it very challenging to put together a complete set.

Click on a card for a larger view.







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