John Allen and Lewis Ginter of Richmond, Virginia formed a tobacco manufacturing firm called Allen and Ginter in 1875. They created and marketed the first cigarette cards for collecting and trading. The cards in the series include notables such as Charles Comiskey, Cap Anson, Jack Glasscock, and Buffalo Bill.
The company offered a prize for the invention of a machine able to roll cigarettes. Until this point in time, they had been hand-rolled. The grand prize was won by James Bonsack with his 1880/81 invention. The machine was not reliable and all but one of the large tobacco manufacturers declined to buy the machine. The machine was eventually bought by James Buchanan Duke in 1885 and used it to great success.
Allen & Ginter baseball cards first debuted in 1887 and quickly became the most popularly collected cards of the time. They honoured champions from around the world, including boxers, wrestlers, and baseball players.
By 1890, Duke had consolidated his four major competitors, including Allen & Ginter, and formed the American Tobacco Company. The "Allen & Ginter Company" ceased to exist, but Lewis Ginter remained on the board of the American Tobacco Company.
The original Allen & Ginter Baseball Cards featured not only the top baseball players, but some of the top names in culture outside of baseball. Topps brought the name and style of card back to collectors in 2006. The 2006 Allen & Ginter set featured athletes such as Mike Tyson and Danica Patrick. Topps also used historical figures from hundreds of years ago in the product.
Continuing the tradition, 2010 Topps Allen and Ginter Baseball will feature new inserts, including Scribes and Seafarers, Gods and Monsters, and Cabinet cards which feature full-sized complete relic swatches.