W. Duke Sons & Co. issued this set of 25 American, English, German and French sea captain cards in 1887 (?) with their Honest Long Cut tobacco. The excellent lithography by Geo. Harris & Sons makes this the single most attractive 19th c. non-sport set, in my opinion. Prices for this issue generally range from $50 to $100 as long as the condition is satisfactory. Robert Edward Auctions had a thoughtful description of this set in their 2009 auction, “Truly a set from another time, now long forgotten, when being a sea captain was of such great prominence that members of this profession warranted being the subject of this magnificently designed tobacco card set”.
Biographies of most of these sea captains were included in an 1886 Harper’s article by Charles Algernon Dougherty entitled “The Transatlantic Captains” that has been digitized by Google. It’s very likely that this Harper’s article inspired the set’s creation.
The first image below is an exceptionally rare advertisement poster for the full set. This copy sold in a May 2012 Legendary auction for more than $7,000.