In the 1930s, Carole Lombard and other film stars were frequently featured on trading cards, many offered by tobacco companies (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/21084.html). Here are some cards that not only are stunning in their beauty, but came under unusual conditions. Look at them:
Those are cards of Lombard, the first from 1934, the others from 1936. Each card is embossed with an individual pattern, and have a varnish coat; some cards in the set have a die-cut border as well. Exquisite.
What makes these cards all the more fascinating are who made them, and where they were made. These were produced by the Garbaty Cigarette Company, which issued a variety of cigarette brands. And they also happened to be made in...Nazi Germany.
That in itself isn't that surprising. We have previously noted how Lombard and other American film stars were popular in Europe and were subjects of picture postcards, many issued in Germany (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/52279.html).
Three series of Garbaty cards, almost all of them featuring actresses, were made: Moderne Schönheitsgalerie (Gallery of Modern Beauty) in 1934; Galerie Schöner-Frauen Des Films (Gallery of Beautiful Women in Film) in 1936; and Film-Lieblinge (Film Favorites) in 1937. The collections blended actresses working in both American and German films. Here's one of Lombard's good friend, Jean Harlow; I'm not certain which set this was from, but I'm guessing it's the 1934 collection:
Many leaders in the Nazi regime were not happy with Hollywood -- reasons included the Jewish background of many of the moguls, as well as some of the themes of the films -- but American movies, and their stars, were quite popular with German audiences, and it wasn't until late in the decade that Hollywood studio product was heavily suppressed.
However, the Garbaty family, which had owned the cigarette firm for nearly half a century, was Jewish. In late 1938, the Nazis staged Kristallnacht, where several hundred Jews were murdered and their property seized. Owner Moritz Garbaty hid out at the home of his Catholic secretary, and his wife and 8-year-old son Thomas were visited by the Gestapo, which was seeking his father. Several days later, Moritz was reunited with his family; he sold the company for a fraction of its worth and left for America, securing the family's safety with a million-dollar bribe to authorities. His son is now 78 years old.
It's a fascinating and chilling story, and you can learn more about it in a remarkable essay at http://mdsportscards.blogspot.com/2009/03/cigarettes-hollywood-starlets-and-nazis.html. You can see an incomplete checklist for the 1936 set at http://www.moviecard.com/zbgerman/ger-garb-schoner.html.
And two of the Lombard cards above are being auctioned at eBay. The second card is at http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-1936-Garbaty-Embossed-Cigarette-Card-2_W0QQitemZ360154306203QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item53dade969b&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=66%3A2%7C65%3A1%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318%7C301%3A0%7C293%3A3%7C294%3A50. As of this writing, two bids have been made, with the top bid at $2.25. Bidding concluded about 10:35 a.m. (Eastern) next Monday.
The third card, http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-1936-Garbaty-Embossed-Cigarette-Card-94_W0QQitemZ330329642323QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item4ce92e5553&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=66%3A2%7C65%3A1%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318%7C301%3A1%7C293%3A4%7C294%3A50, has a starting bid of $1.99, and no bids have yet been made. The deadline is 9:45 p.m. (Eastern) next Monday. (Note that since the 1936 set was issued with the relatively unpopular Passion cigarette brand, those cards are comparatively rarer than the other sets.)
Beautiful cards with a remarkable backstory.