Display of picture-cards of cinema artists
Amongst the wealth of interesting articles kept at the Luigi Chiarini Library, there are some particularly eye-catching picture-card albums. This sort of material is often overlooked, but was widely popular with a whole range of people during the 20th century, and provides us with a fascinating insight both into the history of illustration and into the spread of cinema culture.
The picture-cards were originally associated with prize competitions, or were given away by food manufacturers to promote their products. One such example was the famous Liebig Company: one of the first producers of picture-cards in the form of coloured lithographs. These began to be distributed as far back as 1872 to accompany their famous “beef extract”, and in 1912 a series dedicated to films was produced, under the title “The Tricks of the Cinema”.
Subsequently, these picture cards began to be bought up as “collectables” and were admired for the beauty of their multi-coloured imagery. The albums themselves were no longer designed as simple “containers” but took on their own status and importance, often including written texts that served as commentary.