100-Year-Old “Life Hacks” Found On Vintage Cigarette Cards

Published April 27, 2017
Updated April 28, 2017
Increase Lung Power
How to increase lung power...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Increase Lung Power Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Light Match In Wind
How to light a match in the wind...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Light Match In Wind Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

See The Wind
How to see the wind...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

See The Wind Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Measure With Coins
How to measure with coins...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Measure With Coins Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Remove Tight Ring
How to remove a tight ring from the finger...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Remove Tight Ring Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Mend Broken China
How to mend broken china...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Mend Broken China Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Blow Over A Brick
How to blow over a brick...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Blow Over A Brick Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Extract A Splinter
How to extract a splinter...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Extract A Splinter Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Enlargement Or Reduction
How to proportionate enlargement or reduction...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Enlargement Or Reduction Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Ink Bottle Upsetting
How to prevent an ink bottle from upsetting...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Ink Bottle Upsetting Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Judge Freshness Of A Lobster
How to judge freshness of a lobster...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Judge Freshness Of A Lobster Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Judge The Weather
How to judge the weather...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Judge The Weather Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Keep Lids Raised
How to keep saucepan lids raised...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Keep Lids Raised Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Kill Tree Stump
How to kill a tree stump... The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Kill Tree Stump Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Make Corks Fit
How to make corks fit...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Make Corks Fit Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Make Nuts Secure
How to make nuts secure...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Make Nuts Secure Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Make Pad Lock Cover
How to make a padlock cover...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Make Pad Lock Cover Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Pick Up Broken Glass
How to pick up broken glass...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Pick Up Broken Glass Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Preserve Autumn Leaves
How to preserve autumn leaves...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Preserve Autumn Leaves Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Prevent Glasses Steaming
How to prevent eye glasses steaming...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Prevent Glasses Steaming Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Pull Out Nails
How to pull out long nails...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Pull Out Nails Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Remove Glass Stopper
How to remove glass stopper from bottle...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Remove Glass Stopper Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Separate Glass Tumblers
How to separate glass tumblers...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Separate Glass Tumblers Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Swat That Fly
How to "swat that fly"...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Swat That Fly Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Treat An Animal Bite
How to treat bite of animal...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Treat An Animal Bite Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Use Up Coal Dust
How to use up coal dust...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Use Up Coal Dust Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Water Fountain For Chicks
How to make water fountain for chicks...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Water Fountain For Chicks Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Clean A Clock
How to clean a clock...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Clean A Clock Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Clean Bottles
How to clean bottles...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Clean Bottles Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Clean Oil Painting
How to clean oil painting...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Clean Oil Painting Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Clean White Straw Hat
How to clean a white straw hat...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Clean White Straw Hat Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Cool Wine Without Ice
How to cool wine without ice...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Cool Wine Without Ice Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Cut Bread Into Thin Slices
How to cut new bread into thin slices...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Cut Bread Into Thin Slices Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Detect Damp Bed
How to detect dampness in beds...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Detect Damp Bed Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Draw Duck
How to draw a duck without pencil leaving the paper...The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

Draw Duck Back
The New York Public Library/George Arents Collection

In the 1910s, the United Kingdom's Gallaher brand cigarettes gave smokers a little something extra in each pack: proto-"life hacks" on pack-stiffening cigarette cards, complete with gorgeous, full-color illustrations.

Want to know how to preserve fall leaves? Gallaher has you covered — as long as you can get your hands on spermaceti, a waxy substance generated by sperm whales.

Having trouble slicing new bread (since the pre-sliced variety wouldn't emerge for more than a decade)? Hot water is a knife's best friend.

Looking for a frivolous new doodle for the margins of your college textbooks? Gallaher has a discrete method sure to impress your lab partner (and fool the professor that you're taking copious notes).

Remarkably, many of the "hacks" like these -- and which appear in the gallery above -- have actually aged extraordinarily well. Others -- most notably the lung-strengthening exercise advice from a cigarette manufacturer -- seem quaint at best and downright dangerous at worst. If you choose to listen to 100-year-old advice from a yellowing cigarette card, please, proceed with caution.


Love the aesthetic of cigarette cards? Go back to the 1880s and check out a curious way that another manufacturer tried to sell more smokes. Craving more life hacks? Check out seven sure to improve your day-to-day.

Kellen Perry
Kellen Perry writes about television, history, music, art, video games, and food for ATI, Grunge, Ranker, Ranker Insights, and anyone else that will have him.