This tobacco card shows Sir Arthur Rostron. It is #28 in a series of 32 famous English ships and officers. While the card mentions that Rostron was captain of the Carpathia, there is no reference to the rescue of Titanic survivors.
Before People magazine, before cereal boxes, even before moving pictures, there were tobacco, cigarette, and trade cards. These cards provided people a way to see the world outside their own neighborhoods. Nineteenth-century newspapers carried few pictures and picture magazines were unknown.
These little cards carried images of the well-known beauties of the day, military heros, business magnates, baseball and cricket players. They also had pictures of places, animals, and plants from around the world. The cards provided a window to the world for people who would see very little during their lifetimes.
The cigarette cards (tobacco cards in the UK) were used as stiffeners in cigarette packs. In 1850s some enterprising soul figured out that they could be used for advertising. By issuing a series of cards on one topic and encouraging people to collect the whole set, cigarette companies could encourage people to buy their brand. Companies in other trades also issued cards. One side would carry a picture and the reverse would have some explanation of the picture and an advertisement for a company or brand.
The cards were issued up until World War II created a shortage of paper. By the end of the war, there were movies, newspapers carried pictures and there were magazines with lavish pictures of movie stars. There was no place for the cards except for collectors. The largest cigarette card collection in the world contains over two million cards. It was bequeathed to British Museum in 1995.