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1917 Theatrical Advertising Co.

Set No. 1.  10 cards.  Published out of Detroit, MI.  Measure 3" x 5-1/8"

Possibly yet another entry into the Kromo Gravure family of card sets.  The location is the same, the style of print used on the packaging is the same, and several of the images used are the same.  What is very different is the size, where as the Kromo Gravure cards measure only 2-1/8" X 3-7/16" (two of the three sets at least, the third one being smaller), these beauties measure in a 3" X 5-1/8". 

At the time I acquired my first packet of cards comprising Set No. 1 of the larger cards, I have handled literally dozens of various Kromo Gravure sets over the previous five or more years.  These came as a surprise.  I have to assume that they are somewhat rare and I'm also going to presume that there are more sets of these oversized cards.  After all, if there weren't then why would these be numbered 1? 

Here's a view of the Theatrical Advertising Co. packet, the envelope that contained the cards I picked up:
Packaging for 1917 Theatrical Advertising Cards

And for comparison's sake, here is an example of one of the Kromo Gravure Boxes:
Box for 1917 Kromo Gravure Trading Cards

Following is a video I did about all the Kromo Gravure card varieties, including all ten 1917 Theatrical Advertising cards. Enjoy:

Sorry about the tape.  Anyway, the Theatrical Advertising envelope is just that, a paper envelope, while the Kromo box is a cardboard box.  Obviously you'd receive 50 of the smaller Kromo Cards at a price of 10 (5 cards for a penny) and just 10 of the larger Theatrical cards at a price of 5 (2 cards for a penny).  If I had to guess I'd say that the smaller set became the better seller because of the extra value they offered.

The larger cards are printed a better quality of stock than the smaller cards.  While the smaller Kromos were printed on cardboard of varying thickness, but most commonly that which you'd associate with a trading card, the Theatrical Advertising cards are on a glossier stock, which has a cross-hatched, almost linen-like surface on both sides.  Actually, I've seen a few oddball smaller Kromos printed on this stock and thought it was kind of strange, but the existence of these make those seem a little more logical.  Again, guesswork here, but perhaps those oddball Kromos didn't fit on the sheet of other cards sent to the press, so they included them on these sheets(?).

9 of the 10 stars included in the Theatrical Advertising set are found in the various Kromo Gravure Sets.  The exception being child star, Zoe Rae, who I hadn't seen on any cards before.  An imdb check reveals that Zoe Rae, born 1910, began her film career in 1915 and most often worked under the name Zoe Bech through 1916.  She appears to be credited as Zoe Rae in a couple of 1916 releases, and then through 1919 with one oddball 1920 credit finishing up her career.  The Zoe Rae name is consistent with the 1917 release date of the Kromo sets, and so that is the date I'm using for the Theatrical Advertising set as well.

7 of these 10 cards carry familiar poses, the same images used in various Kromo Gravure sets.  Besides Zoe Rae, I had not seen these particular poses for either Mary Pickford or Mrs. Vernon Castle before.  Also worth a quick mention is that 6 of the 7 familiar poses appear to be the most common shots used in the Kromos, while the Theda Bara pose is the one used in the slightly less common sets with rounded borders and no borders.

Update: I'm excited to say I've managed to find another set of these rare cards and the first variation to add to this page! This set came without an envelope, so I do not know if it was labeled as Set No. 1 or if it had another number, but nine of the ten cards were identical to those below. The difference is that there was no Zoe Rae card, but instead included a Lillian Walker card.

I was certainly excited to find these, always fun to come across something you had no idea existed!  Below you'll find images of all ten cards from the Theatrical Advertising set.

1917 Mary Pickford 3x5 Theatrical Advertising Co. Card
1. Mary Pickford

1917 Francis X. Bushman 3x5 Theatrical Advertising Co. Card
2. Francis X. Bushman

1917 Pauline Frederick 3x5 Theatrical Advertising Co. Card
3. Pauline Frederick

1917 Theda Bara 3x5 Theatrical Advertising Co. Card
4. Theda Bara

1917 Billie Burke 3x5 Theatrical Advertising Co. Card
5. Billie Burke

1917 William Farnum 3x5 Theatrical Advertising Co. Card
6. William Farnum

1917 Marguerite Clark 3x5 Theatrical Advertising Co. Card
7. Marguerite Clark

1917 Zoe Rae 3x5 Theatrical Advertising Co. Card
8a. Zoe Rae

1917 Mrs. Vernon Castle 3x5 Theatrical Advertising Co. Card
9. Mrs. Vernon Castle

1917 Douglas Fairbanks 3x5 Theatrical Advertising Co. Card
10. Douglas Fairbanks

1917 Lillian Walker 3x5 Theatrical Advertising Co. Card
8b. Lillian Walker