The Duke Stars of the Stage set was issued in four sets, each with 25 cards. They are all unnumbered and feature pictures of unnamed women who were presumably “Stars of the Stage” at that time. The first series is thought to have been issued around 1890, the following sets were issued within the next couple of years with the N132 set probably being in 1893. Each series features a distinct style which makes it easy to determine what set a particular card belongs to.
1st Series (N129): This series features color portraits of women from the shoulders up. Some of the backs of these cards have been found with the text “Third Series”, but this probably refers to a third printing as the actual 3rd series looks distinctly different. This series was found in Duke’s Honest Long Cut brand. Gail & Ax also included these cards in their Navy Long Cut brand, the backs show an ad for Navy Long Cut but otherwise are the same. The Gail & Ax version are quite a bit harder to find than the Duke versions.
2nd Series (N130): This series features color full-body portraits of women. This series was found in Duke’s Honest Long Cut brand. A Gail & Ax version may also exist for this series (according to the American Card Catalog) but I have not been able to verify that.
3rd Series (N131): This series is distinct because of its heavy black border and the Honest Long Cut ad on the front. The portraits again depict the women from the shoulders up. This series was found in Duke’s Honest Long Cut brand.
4th Series (N132): This is also a distinct series because each card is die-cut and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. This series was also found in Duke’s Honest Long Cut brand.