The scarce issue known as T209, included in packs of Contentnea Cigarettes, and produced by the Erwin-Nadal Company in Wilson, North Carolina, is the only tobacco card set issued in both color lithographs and black-and-white photographs. T209 intrigues many collectors due to its focus on the obscure southern leagues players it depicts, and because until now, very little information has been unearthed about its origins.
Among the puzzling questions that remain mostly unanswered are why are there two distinct series, a small one in color, and a much larger one produced in black and white? What year(s) were they issued, and which series was produced first? Who was B. E. Thompson, the Uncle Sam-like character who appears in the second series? And for that matter, how is the brand name Contentnea pronounced? I hope that this website will help answer these and other questions about T209 cards, and offer fresh new information about the southern minor leagues.
The easiest question to answer is the card’s pronounciation. The Contentnea Cigarettes brand was named after Contentnea Creek that runs through Wilson. Most collectors pronounce this name phonetically, con-tent-nee-ah. But a recent Old Cardboard eNews issue (#64, August 2009) featuring the Contentnea produced T-128 set (which depict a native American Indian standing by a waterfall) notes that on the cards’ backs the creek’s pronunciation is specified as con-tent-nah. And yet despite this explanation on T-128s, people living in eastern North Carolina have always called the creek con-tent-nee. I subscribe to the local pronunciation, which is also easier to say!