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
Here's a view of the Theatrical Advertising Co. packet, the
envelope that contained the cards I picked up:
And for comparison's sake, here is an example of one of the
Kromo Gravure Boxes:
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
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
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.