In the late 19th century, cigarette and gum companies began to include pinback buttons in their packs of cigarettes to help spur the sale of their products. Among the first pins issued around 1896 were R.F. Outcault's famous character, THE YELLOW KID. These pins were issued with both open backs and closed backs. In the open backs a paper advertisment was inserted, to remind customers of the product. Yellow Kid pins are generally found with High Admiral Cigarette paper inserts and the closed backs are considered to be much scarcer.
Around 1910, cigarette companies revived the practice, started in the late 19th century, and began to issue pinback buttons in their cigarette packs. To accomplish this, thru the manufacturer of the pins, Whitehead and Hoag, several famous comic artists of the time were hired to create a series of comic pins. Among those hired were Ham Fisher, creator of Mutt and Jeff; R. Dirks, creator of The Katzenjammer Kids; and Rube Goldberg, whose creative talents were so recognized that his name is now part of the English language. These celluloid pins are all signed in the pin by the artist and were produced in color, black line on a white background and white line on a dark blue background. The color pins are the most commonly found followed by the black and white pins. The white line pins were produced in much lesser quantities than their predec- essors and therefore are much more difficult to find. All pins that have been found to date have open backs with a Hassan Cigarettes or Tokio Cigarettes paper insert.
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