My benefactor might be twice-happy to get that regal card (12th Century English monarch Henry II) out of his collection. On Sept 18, Glenn's adopted home of Scotland voted not to leave the UK, shelving their independence for the near future; see arethescotsindependentyet.com for more.
In Scotland's honor, let's take a closer look at that
This is a 1939 Player's Cigarettes #5 of "Animals of the Countryside," the insect-eating hedgehog. Very prickly and kinda cute, it's become fashionable to like the spiky mammal in certain corners of the Internet these days. (Many of my friends live in those corners.)
The hedgehog's card text emphasizes their genteel diet and nocturnal nature before closing with a zinger ... "our picture shows [it] in combat with a viper." Was its writer going to ignore that part of the hedgehog canon until he saw their art?
|Round the Year Stories: Summer, p16|
If you like hedgehog drama, this scene from an illustrated 1938 storybook varies from the Player's Cigarettes card only by using a bigger snake. I suspect the era of British (and European) colonialism made exotic animals fascinating to citizens throughout the Empire, so any fight between a pointy football and poisonous snake gained extra emotional heft.
Finding good scans and checklists for UK cigarette sets is less reliable than for USA baseball, but auction site Delcampe.net offers front and back scans for all 50 Animals of the Countryside.
Value: That Delcampe auction link sold an original set for £21 in 2011, so you won't go broke buying them in lots or singles.
Fakes / reprints: Many cigarette sets, including Animals of the Countryside, went through one or more reprints after 1990, typically with a REPRINT tag and shinier paper stock.