There have been numerous attempts to group Exhibit cards, and especially movie related Exhibit cards, based on using characteristics of the cards to determine the age/year of the card and assign it to a ‘set’ for that year. Rather than use card characteristics to determine the year and therefore to define the set, why not just create the classification system and use it as the identity of the virtual ‘set’ of the card?
Exhibit card dates are difficult to pin down without hard evidence like Exhibit Company documents. Some Exhibit baseball card years, especially the earlier ones, can easily be determined from card characteristics such as players, teams, font, printed vs signed, etc. A problem we run into is situations, such as those with the Salutation and post-Salutation baseball cards, where cards were printed well beyond their first appearance. For example, Salutation cards appearing on uncut post-Salutation sheets.
We can use some of the Exhibit baseball characteristics though to aid with our Movie card classification though. Where we had players and teams, we have cases in earlier Movie cards where we can leverage actors' or actresses' names along with the movies in which they appear. If we see that Joan Crawford and Gilbert Roland had their first credited role in 1925, then it is highly unlikely that they had any Exhibit card issued prior to 1925, and more likely there first card was after 1925. At the same time, we can’t assume with any certainty that cards issued in 1926 include movies only from 1925 or 1926. There are cards that include movies at least as far back and 1917 and maybe earlier. Also, some of these cards, though not many, reference Broadway shows and not movies, though the actor could appear in movies as well.
The information we know about the baseball cards and the characteristics of those cards can help with identifying the years, but even this is not foolproof. Some characteristics map from baseball to movie cards, such as the scripting and printing on the 1922 cards. At the same time the 1922 baseball cards did not have a post card back, but the movie cards likely do. As a counter example, both the baseball cards and movie cards from 1927-1928 have the same style fronts. The gist of all of this is that no matter how you try to identify the sets as they relate to a specific year or set of years, it is all just an educated guess in the end. So why bother? Or better still, why not use a different method?
After some trial and error, what seemed to make the most sense was something like a ‘biological’ movie star classification system. By defining the dominant and shared traits, we could come up with a classification system. But as you will see, this system isn’t perfect as we still have our platypus type Spencer Tracys and Ben Turpins.
When I am talking about Exhibit "movie cards", I really mean any card Exhibit that contains at least 1 actor or actress. This could be a card that relates to a specific movie, or it could be a picture of the actor or actress that might have been taken from a studio portrait or publicity photo. As you will see, most do not reference a specific movie, but many of the early Exhibit "movie" cards did.
The goal of all this is an attempt to checklist the cards based on similar characteristics.
There are quite a few Western style Exhibit cards that relate to movies as well. While a few 'Western' cards might end up here in these lists, I will not be including Western cards per se, or attempting to checklist those cards that are obviously Western in nature. I leave that to be its own rabbit hole to be explored by others.
I hope this website will be of some use to you and any feedback would be greatly appreciated.