Movie star postcards probably originated back in the late teens, possibly even earlier. Postcards featuring actors and actresses of the theater proceeded them. There is a vast collection of early 20th century
theater postcards in existence. Movie postcards are still being made today, some as film promotions. They were most popular in the late 1920's and throughout the 1930's.
HOW MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF MOVIE STAR POSTCARDS ARE THERE?
Lots. Its seems that almost every country in Europe manufactured movie star postcards. Ironically, although most of the stars were from the United States, there were very few American made movie postcards. Germany was the biggest producer of the cards, followed by France and England. Other countries include Austria, Italy, Sweden and even Russia. Some of the more famous postcard names were Iris (Austria), Beagle (England), Picturegoer (England), and Cinemagazine (French).
WHAT IS ROSS VERLAG?
Ross Verlag was the most prominent of all the vintage postcard publishers. Ross was a German company; verlag is just the German word for publishing house. They probably first started making these cards in the 1920's. I really don't know much about their history, what happened to them, or what other
sort of publishing they may have done, beyond movie star cards. (See main page.)
HOW MANY DIFFERENT ROSS VERLAG POSTCARDS ARE THERE?
That's what I'd like to know. If the cards start at #1 and go to #9999 and there is an average of four cards in each series, then there may be around 40,000 cards. Of course, some of the series contain up to 20 cards. But some of the other may have had fewer, possibly even just one. Some of these cards were printed in color, as well as in black and white. Of course, that total doesn't include the second A series. And I haven't even talked about the Lux series Ross Cards, the larger format cards. There were also a K, W and G series. They also printed tobacco cards in many size formats, as well as various other sized cards, some numbered, some not. Some of the Ross postcards seemed to have been reprinted in England in color cards which had the Ross numbers, but not the Ross name, and had the word "foreign" printed on them. Some cards were also printed by a Italian publisher, but they are identical to the German published cards, even including the Ross name.
HOW ARE ROSS VERLAG POSTCARDS NUMBERED?
The first number is the series number, and the number after the slash is the card number. The number is usually found in the left bottom corner of the picture, although I've seen it on the right a few times also. All the cards in one series are of the same film or actor or group of actors. I've seen no pattern to the series numbers. Sometimes a group of consecutive series numbers may be cards for the same actor, but generally they are a mix of different actors.
WHERE CAN YOU FIND MOVIE STAR POSTCARDS?
The best place would be through on line auctions, particularly Ebay. There are many ebay sellers out there devoted to selling postcards, and some of them specialize in movie star cards. There are also other private online sources for cards. Search for them through Google.com. Off line, antique and collectible stores and especially antique malls are your best bet. Not everybody sells them (in fact, very few people sell them), but some of the fun is in looking! Antique fairs (such as Rennigers in Pennsylvania and Florida) usually have a few sellers. Anyone who sells postcards usually has some movie star cards. They may be listed under famous people. One other place you can be sure you'll find something are Postcard shows. These are held throughout the country at various times of the year. Check the links page for a resource.
WHAT ARE THE VALUE OF MOVIE STAR POSTCARDS?
Like any collectible, their value depends upon what someone is willing to spend on it. Actresses sell better than actors. Some cards, like obscure German male actors, don't seem to attract many buyers (unless autographed, which is a popular collectible in Germany). And then, on the other side of the scale, you have Josephine Baker, whose cards have gone for over $100. Louise Brooks cards can sell that high, too. Anna May Wong is very popular also. Cards from the movie Metropolis, with Brigitte Helm, have sold for over $50. Cards with nudity (and yes, there are a few), sell very well. But, generally, for the rest of the cards, the price range is somewhere between $1 and $15, depending upon the star featured and the quality of the card. Hand colored cards usually sell for more, particularly for the better known actors. Only the most famous male actors sell -- like Valentino, Lon Chaney, Chaplin, and Keaton. Value usually depends upon the celebrity featured and the quality of the photo on the card. Some people only collect one star. Some people prefer unusual cards with obscure performers. Some people only like the most well known, while others go by aesthetics. Others (ahem) collect just about anything.
WHY DID YOU CREATE THIS SITE?
Curiosity, I guess, as to how many Ross cards there are and if there was a pattern to their card numbering.
WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO LIST THE OTHER MOVIE STAR POSTCARDS?
Consider it done.
WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO PUT UP SCANS OF ALL THE CARDS?
Hmmmm. Well, I might do some.