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1917 Kromo Gravure Movie Cards

3 Type Variations - 5 Complete Checklists
 

These cards have become a subject of some confusion.  What is shown below are the variations for three different types of cards, two of which were definitely issued by the Kromo Gravure Photo Company out of Detroit, MI and the third which I have a strong suspicion was issued by this same company as well.  All cards date to approximately 1917, which was the date chosen after researching many of the stars on the IMDB and comparing dates of death, dates careers began and dates careers ended and then intersecting all of these dates.  1917 turned out to be the most reasonable choice.

NOTE: Beneath this opening text is a table showing examples of images from different Kromo Gravure sets, this is followed by some more text and finally a 5-column chart that is a checklist in progress for all 5 Kromo Gravure sets.

The chart below starts with an image of a card from the first Kromo Gravure set I happened upon.  These cards were issued in three sets of 50 cards each.  Each case (as depicted) was labeled either Set No. 1, Set No. 2, or Set No. 3 (Note: In March 2009 we've added a page showing off all 50 cards from Set No. 4!).  These are pretty standard looking cards with white borders surrounding black and white photos.  These cards measure approximately 2-1/8" X 3-7/16".

The second row of images are from a different set, which as you can see quite often uses the exact same images used in the 1917 Kromo Gravure 1,2,3 sets.  I have acquired these on at least three occasions, but never with the box or case they were issued in, if in fact they were issued in one.  These also measure 2-1/8" X 3-7/16", however the difference is the rounded corners on the inside edges of the white borders.  I have taken to referring to these as 1917 Kromo Gravure Rounded Borders for lack of a better name.

Finally in the last row we have a group of cards I recently stumbled upon.  These also came in a Kromo Gravure box, but without any marking identifying it as set 1, 2 or 3. I also noticed several different poses and players included in the set.  There are fifty cards, black and white photos, no borders.  They measure slightly smaller at 1-15/16" X 3-5/16", and at first I thought they may be trimmed, however the edges are so clean that to trim them would have taken quite a bit of work for very little reward.  Also, the first two examples below will show different poses for all three sets so if they were trimmed the next question would be, from what?  I do not think they are, I strongly believe that they were issued borderless.  Thus, these will be referred to as 1917 Kromo Gravure No Borders.

Since they were apparently very popular I was almost positive that I would be able to locate more information on these in my copy of the American Card Catalog by Jefferson Burdick.  However, Burdick does not mention any issue that specifically fits the bill for these.  The closest he comes is for W623 which is a very general listing under the catalog heading Trading or Strip Cards: General Issues.  That listing is as follows:

"W623--Movie Stars, souvenir sets, various issuers and size, average.....  .10 (1960 value!)

Burdick also notes, under the Trading or Strip Cards heading: "In general the distinction between the W500 Trading Cards and W600 General Issues lies in that the latter are larger and often are on paper.  The General Issues were sold more as pictures and the Trading Cards as cards.  This distinction is rather fine and some could fall in either group.  Also, the W600 group is generally labeled better and can be identified more easily." (ACC, p185, 1960 ed.).

Our Kromo Gravures were identified by the boxes which sets were distributed in, but had blank banks.  They were issued on card stock and not paper, but I believe that they were certainly intended more as "pictures" than as "cards".  The boxes themselves refer to their contents as "Photos".  So if you ask me, Kromo Gravures are in fact Burdick's W623 listing.  If anyone has any information that would help either prove or disprove this please do write me.

Update February 2005: I just happened upon a large lot of cards which could quite possibly be another Kromo Gravure set, however one issued slightly earlier than the sets on this page were.  Go HERE to learn about these cards.

Following the photo examples are examples of the boxes that two of these three similar issues were received in as well as working checklists for all three.


Notes

1,2,3
150 cards
2-1/8" X 3-7/16"

Rounded Borders
? cards
2-1/8" X 3-7/16"

No Borders
50 cards
1-15/16" X 3-5/16


Mary Pickford - An example where all three poses are different.

Example of Mary Pickford Kromo Gravure Standard Card Example of Mary Pickford Kromo Gravure Card with Rounded Borders Example of Mary Pickford Kromo Gravure Card with No Borders

William Farnum -- The only other example I have noted so far where all 3 poses are different.

Example of William Farnum Kromo Gravure Standard Card Example of William Farnum Kromo Gravure Card with Rounded Borders Example of William Farnum Kromo Gravure Card with No Borders

Gertrude McCoy -- Here is the first of two examples I have found where all three sets present the same photo pose.

Example of Gertrude McCoy Kromo Gravure Standard Card Example of Gertrude McCoy Kromo Gravure Card with Rounded Borders Example of Gertrude McCoy Kromo Gravure Card with No Borders

Kitty Gordon -- All three poses are the same.

Example of Kitty Grodon Kromo Gravure Standard Card Example of Kitty Grodon Kromo Gravure Card with Rounded Borders Example of Kitty Grodon Kromo Gravure Card with No Borders

Mary Miles Minter -- Here's an oddity.  Two different poses of Minter from the 1,2,3 sets.  I can only assume that she appeared in two of the three sets, unfortunately I did not record this information at the time.  The cards from the Rounded and No Borders sets are the same, but different from both of the 1,2,3 poses.

Example of Mary Miles Minter Kromo Gravure Standard Card - Type 1 of 2
Example of Mary Miles Minter Kromo Gravure Standard Card - Type 2 of 2
Example of Mary Miles Minter Kromo Gravure Card with Rounded Borders Example of Mary Miles Minter Kromo Gravure Card with No Borders

Blanche Sweet -- The Rounded and No Border cards are the same pose, while the 1,2,3 pose is different.  Technically the Minter cards above fall into this classification as well.

Example of Blanche Sweet Kromo Gravure Standard Card Example of Blanche Sweet Kromo Gravure Card with Rounded Borders Example of Blanche Sweet Kromo Gravure Card with No Borders

Charles Chaplin -- Rounded and No Borders match, 1,2,3 uses different pose.  Same as above, and all following examples are like this as well.  This is the most common variation.

Example of Charles Chaplin Kromo Gravure Standard Card Example of Charles Chaplin Kromo Gravure Card with Rounded Borders Example of Charles Chaplin Kromo Gravure Card with No Borders

Mrs. Vernon Castle

Example of Mrs Vernon Castle Kromo Gravure Standard Card Example of Mrs Vernon Castle Kromo Gravure Card with Rounded Borders Example of Mrs Vernon Castle Kromo Gravure Card with No Borders

Mabel Normand

Example of Mabel Normand Kromo Gravure Standard Card Example of Mabel Normand Kromo Gravure Card with Rounded Borders Example of Mabel Normand Kromo Gravure Card with No Borders

At left are boxes containing sets 1 and 2 from the Kromo 1,2,3 sets.  At right is the box containing the No Border Kromo Cards

Kromo Gravure Movie Cards Boxes   Kromo Gravure Movie Cards Box

CHECKLISTS:

Thank you: to Diana Savage who has helped with corrections to this list with notes from her own collection and reports when she purchases new sets.

NOTE: For cards from the 1,2,3 sets I have split the single list into three separate at Diana's suggestion.  Each set is a 50-card set, though as Diana notes there must be variations within the sets--if you scroll down to the bottom of the list you'll see each of the 1,2,3 lists is a different length.

When I started these lists I used a couple of Set 1's which I had received in their original boxes along with a Set 3 I had picked up along the way.  Diana has recently added her own Set 3 to this list, which was quite a bit different than mine.  I haven't purchased a Set 2 since I originally composed this list, so cards listed under the Set 2 headings are basically leftovers--cards which were in neither Diana or my own Sets 1's & 3's.

To add further confusion to the cards in the Boxed 1,2,3 sets, we have both noticed that they are sometimes printed on different stock.  I have also come across these cards with theatre ads stamped/printed on the usually blank reverse.

All of this variation leads me to believe that they were mass produced over the years in the latter-1910's, probably stocked on five and dime shelves and offered as premium items at theatres.  They seem to have been quite popular probably because of both a general trading card boom (very popular baseball tobacco sets were issued earlier in this same decade; T205, T206 etc.) and the explosion of the star system in the movie world.

Last Update: July 18, 2012.

* Second pose in this style noted.  Likely in two of the different boxed sets.
** Go here to see 50 images from a recent "No Borders" set.
***Go here to see 50 images from recently discovered Box No. 4.


Box No. 1

Adele de Garde
Agnes Ayres
Alice Brady
Alice Joyce
Alma Hanlon
Anita Stewart*
Ann Murdock
Arlene Pretty
Augusta Anderson
Beverly Bayne
Billie Burke
Bryant Washburn
Clara Kimball Young
Cleo Ridgley
Constance Binney
Douglas MacLean
Dustin Farnum
Earl Williams
Edna Goodrich
Emily Stevens
Fannie Ward
Francis X. Bushman
George Walsh
Gertrude McCoy
Grace Cunard
Helen Holmes
Jack Pickford
Jackie Saunders
Jane Novak
Kathlyn Williams
King Baggot*
Kitty Gordon
Lillian Gish
Louise Huff
Marguerite Clark
Marguerite Clayton
Marie Osborne
Mary McAllister
Mary Miles Minter*
Mary Pickford
May Allison
Mrs. Sidney Drew
Myrtle Stedman
Norma Talmadge
Owen Moore
Pauline Frederick
Robert Warwick
Stuart Holmes
Theda Bara
Virginia Pearson
William Farnum
William Russell

Box No. 2

Alla Nazimova
Alma Rubens
Belle Bennett
Bessie Love
Charles Ray
Constance Talmadge
Corinne Griffith
Douglas Fairbanks Sr.
Edith Storey
Elsie Ferguson
Emily Whelan
Enid Bennett
Ethel Clayton
Florence DeShorn
Ford Sterling
Francis X. Bushman
Gail Kane
George Beban
George M. Cohan
Geraldine Farrar
Gertrude McCoy
Gladys Brockwell
Gladys Hulette
Gladys Leslie
Harold Lockwood
Jane Cowl
Jewel Carmen
John Barrymore
Juilian Eltinge
June Caprice
Mabel Normand
Mabel Taliaferro
Madge Kennedy
Mae Marsh
Margaret Gibson
Margery Wilson
Mary Anderson
Mary Garden
Mary McAllister
Mary Miles Minter*
Miriam Cooper
Mrs. Vernon Castle
Olga Petrova
Olive Tell
Olive Thomas
Patsy De Forest
Pearl White
Peggy Hyland
Ruth Roland
Seena Oliver
Taylor Holmes
Virginia Lee Corbin
Wallace Reid
William Desmond
William S. Hart

Box No. 3

Albert Ray
Anna Q. Nilsson
Ann Pennington
Antonio Moreno
Bert Lytell
Billie Rhodes
Blanche Sweet
Bryant Washburn
Catherine Calvert
Charles Chaplin
Charles Hutchinson
Dolores Cassinellis
Doris May
Dorothy Dalton
Dorothy DeVore
Dorothy Phillips
Dustin Farnum
Edith Johnson
Elaine Hammerstein
Elinor Fair
Elmo Lincoln
Evelyn Greeley
Fatty Arbuckle
Fay Tincher
Frank Keenan
George Walsh
Harold Lloyd
Harry Morey
Helene Chadwick
Josephine Hill
Kathryn Adams
Lila Lee
Lina Cavalieri
Louise Glaum
Madge Evans
Madlaine Traverse
Mae Murray
Marjorie Rambeau
Mary MacLaren
Maxine Elliott
Mildred Davis
Mildred Harris Chaplin
Mollie King
Monroe Salisbury
Montague Love
Naomi Childers
Ora Carew
Owen Moore
Pauline Curley
Priscilla Dean
Raymond McKee
Shirley Mason
Texas Guinan
Tom Moore
Viola Dana
Virginia Hammond
Vivian Martin
William Duncan
William Farnum
Will Rogers

Rounded Border

Agnes Ayres
Alice Brady
Alice Joyce
Alma Hanlon
Anita Stewart
Ann Murdock
Ann Pennington
Arlene Pretty
Augusta Anderson
Beverly Bayne
Billie Burke
Blanche Sweet
Bobby Connelly
Bryant Washburn
Charles Chaplin
Cleo Ridgley
Crane Wilbur
Dorothy Gish
Dustin Farnum
Earl Williams
Edna Goodrich
Edna Mayo
Emily Stevens
Fannie Ward
Francis X. Bushman
George Walsh
Gertrude McCoy
Grace Cunard
Harold Lockwood
Henry B. Walthall
Hobart Henley
Howard Estabrook
Jackie Saunders
Jack Pickford
Jane Novak
Jean Southern
Kathlyn Williams
King Baggot
Kitty Gordon
Lillian Gish
Lillian Walker
Mabel Normand
Margarita Fischer
Marguerite Clark
Mary Fuller
Mary Miles Minter
Mary Pickford
Mrs. Sidney Drew
Mrs. Vernon Castle
Myrtle Stedman
Olga Petrova
Owen Moore
Pauline Frederick
Pearl White
Robert Warwick
Ruth Roland
Stuart Holmes
Theda Bara
Viola Dana
Virginia Pearson
Warren Kerrigan
William Farnum
William Russell
William S. Hart

No Borders

Adele de Garde
Agnes Ayres
Alice Joyce
Alma Hanlon
Anita Stewart
Ann Murdock
Ann Pennington
Arlene Pretty
Baby Marie Osborne
Ben Wilson
Billie Burke
Blanche Sweet
Bobby Connelly
Bryant Washburn
Charles Chaplin
Clara Kimball Young
Cleo Ridgley
Crane Wilbur
Dorothy Donnelly
Dorothy Gish
Douglas Fairbanks
Dustin Farnum
Earl Williams
Edna Mayo
Emily Stevens
Ethel Barrymore
Fannie Ward
Francis X. Bushman
George Walsh
Gertrude McCoy
Grace Cunard
Harold Lockwood
Helen Holmes
Hobart Henley
Howard Estabrook
Jack Pickford
Jackie Saunders
Jane Novak
Jean Southern
Kathlyn Williams
King Baggot
Kitty Gordon
Lillian Gish
Lillian Walker
Louise Huff
Mabel Normand
Margarita Fischer
Marguerite Clark
Marguerite Clayton
Mary Fuller
Mary McAllister
Mary Miles Minter
Mary Pickford
May Allison
Mrs. Sidney Drew
Mrs. Vernon Castle
Norma Talmadge
Olga Petrova
Owen Moore
Pauline Frederick
Pearl White
Ruth Roland
Stuart Holmes
Theda Bara
Viola Dana
Virginia Pearson
Warren Kerrigan
William Farnum
William S. Hart