As part of an advertising campaign in pre-war Germany, a cigarette manufacturer commissioned artwork and stories for separate release that required submission of vouchers. 150 fantastical colour picture cards were first produced in 1933 but to understand the context, customers had to purchase an album that contained 22 re-worked fairy tales and newly written adventures, together with black and white line drawings.
The wonderfully distinct illustration work was produced by the mysterious Stefan Mart. Virtually nothing is known about him and to date, Tales of the Nations (Märchen der Völker) is his only known work. Production of the books/cards ceased when the war commenced and any evidence regarding Stefan Mart's identity or whereabouts was bombed into oblivion.
Rainer Würgau was smitten with the scenes portrayed in the cards he received as a child during the war. He later inadvertently acquired a complete album that filled in the blanks of the stories he had constructed from his imagination. His enthusiasm for Stefan Mart's work has never waned and by way of homage to his illustrator hero, he constructed a very detailed website to share his passion with the world.
The site contains all the illustrations and known history about the author and book production, analysis of some of the images as well as the complete stories and pictures of the original album. It's a fascinating site.
[Brazenly pillaged from taz at metafilter]