Dating

To date & organize the known population of Lon Chaney cards, the image used on the product card was identified and matched to the related movie when possible. The images must be carefully studied as often pose variations from the same studio sitting were used for card production. It was often the distributors practice to use current movie related images to promote products. By identifying the movie, it allowed the cataloger a general timeline for dating the card. For example, the movie “The Black Bird” was released in 1926. Images from that movie appeared on cards for a single year and sometimes upwards to 5 years depending on the company’s desire and ability to update and the length of time a card was issued to promote a product. Companies which were established in supplying cards such as the Ross Verlag postcard company & Exhibit Supply Company of Chicago tended to update images more often.

When attempting to identify the movie the card image was selected from, details that can be studied to help pinpoint the movie include hair style, wardrobe, presence and style of hat, cigarette in hand, and direction of profile.

Often a single card which was not part of a known set was issued over a longer period of time than cards from a specific set. Since the practice was designed to promote a product or used as a postcard, updates of the image were not deemed as necessary or impractical to implement from a cost basis.

For example, exhibit card companies issued a new series of cards every 30 days, so outdated images were quickly abandoned and new images added to the next generation of cards. Postcards suppliers often printed the same image and issued them over a longer period of time. The postmarks on the reverse support this practice.