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carole lombard 02

Carding Carole

Posted by vp19 on 2007.11.20 at 00:44
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The image above is an example of a type of film memorabilia that was very popular in Carole Lombard's time and is still around today, albeit in far more limited form. It's a postcard, and in the twenties and thirties, many cards with movie star images were widespread -- although, it must be noted, the practice was far more prevalent on the European side of the Atlantic than it was in North America.

Germany was the top producer of movie postcards, thanks specifically to one company -- Ross Verlag ("verlag" is German for "publishing house"). A predecessor firm began making cards of film stars in 1916, but the Ross cards began in the early 1920s. Initially, only German actors appeared on the cards, but Americans were featured beginning in 1922. The company's founder, Heinrich Ross, was born in 1870; he and his daughter reportedly emigrated to America in the mid-1930s, so it's possible he may have been Jewish and was fleeing Nazism. Nevertheless, the company continued to function, and American stars were part of the postcard roster until Germany declared war on the U.S. in 1941. By this time, the series was dominated by pictures of domestic German stars, such as Kristina Soderbaum:

Postcards could be purchased at drugstores, ordered through film magazines or bought directly from the Berlin-based company. Here are two ads from the firm:

Until World War II, Ross Verlag also produced some movie star cards for British and French markets, although they were issued under different series.

Ross Verlag collectors have compiled a checklist of those who appeared on the thousands of cards, and apparently Lombard was featured 14 different times. Here's the first known appearance of Lombard, from 1930 (she's still listed as "Carol"), on card #4831:

And another example, card #9246 from 1935:

For the record, the other numbers of Ross Verlag Lombard cards are 5982, 6407, 6780, 6874, 9031, A1150, A1396, A2006, A2092, A2356, A2645 and A3198. (The last of those cards was made in 1941, making her the last American actress to be featured on a card. Herbert Marshall and Randolph Scott, at A3199 and A3200 respectively, were the last American actors on Ross Verlag cards.)

For more on these cards and the checklist project, visit this fascinating site: http://cinemaplayerspostalantiquities.com/RossMain.html

Away from the Continent, British movie fans had their own postcards, courtesy of Picturegoer magazine. These cards were issued for nearly 40 years, from 1921 until the magazine's demise in 1960, and more than 6,500 photographic postcards were issued, featuring more than 2,000 performers (almost all of them actors or actresses).

Here's a Picturegoer postcard of Lombard, card #1142 (note she's listed as "Carol," even though the picture looks to be from a time after she was known as "Carole"):

Want to learn more on these cards? Visit http://freespace.virgin.net/bob.cooper/index.html.

Happy collecting!

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