Movies have been a keystone of American pop culture for over a century. As such, folks love to have reminders of their favorite movies around them: posters, toys, statues, prop replicas, movie memorabilia comes in all shapes and sizes. One such shape is the Lobby Card, the now obsolete sibling to the iconic movie poster.
The Origins of Lobby Cards
Before we can explain lobby cards, we first must look at movie posters. For decades, movie posters were usually prints of paintings. Posters for iconic films like Gone With The Wind, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Goldfinger, Jaws, Star Wars? All paintings. That was the standard because photographs weren’t necessarily easy to reproduce at poster scale for much of the 20th century.
However, photography had become much more widespread and expected before poster technology caught up. This coincided with the rise of the “move palace” style of theater, like Detroit’s own Redford Theatre. Those two factors combined to birth the lobby card.
What is a Lobby Card?
Lobby Cards are promotional photographs printed on heavy cardstock paper. They were meant to be displayed in the massive lobbies of movie palaces before the film came out, working alongside posters to promote coming attractions. This gave audiences an early look at the film’s cinematic grandeur, albeit in still form.
Lobby cards were a standard part of film promotion from the 1910s up into the 1970s. Simply put, the American relationship to both movie theaters and photography changed after that. Movie palaces gave way to multiplexes. Painted posters gave way to photographs. Lobby cards simply became obsolete.
Are Lobby Cards Collectible?
Lobby cards fall into the broad collectible category of “paper ephemera”. Paper ephemera encompasses anything printed on paper and intended for the trashcan. And unlike a lot of ephemeral collectibles, Lobby Cards died out before the collector market really took off.
This means that the supply never had a chance to get over-saturated. Even genuine one sheet movie posters tend to be over-printed these days! This means that lobby cards remain highly collectible to this day. The drawback to their advancing age is that the audience for some of the movies they promoted is getting smaller.
That means the best time to sell your lobby card collection is right now. If you’re ready to part with your collection, Back to the Past Collectibles would be happy to help you bring it to market. If you’re not and just want to show it off, be sure to hit us up on social media @b2pcollect!