FAQ Lobby Cards
A lobby card is an 11×14 or 8×10 inch (landscape orientated) “poster” printed on heavy stock featuring a scene from the film advertised. 8×10 inch cards are also called stills or Front-Of-House cards. They briefly summarize the movie in a series of captioned scenes. Usually there are 8 cards in a set, however there are also sets that have more or less cards. The number of cards in a set can vary from as few as three to as many a]s 22 or more. Lobby cards first appeared in the early 1910s. During the silent-era lobby cards were often nothing more than black and white or duotone stills which were eventually replaced by hand-tinted scenes and in the 1920s by full-color lobby cards. These cards were designed for display in a theater’s lobby or foyer with the intention of promoting the movie.
Studios stopped producing lobby card sets for the American market sometime in the mid-1980’s. After the mid-1980’s, the only lobby card sets produced were for International releases. We sell both types of sets! The Netherlands is one of the few countries that sometimes still uses USA 11×14 inch lobby card sets, although not for all titles. Most other European countries (like Germany , France , Spain & Italy ) produce their own lobby card sets. These self-produced sets can often contain entirely different artwork and images than the USA sets. This of course makes them more collectible.
The following are some of the common sizes of original lobby card sets from the USA and other countries:
USA – United States of America:
- Standard – measures 11×14 inch, 28×36 cm, and issued in sets of usually 8.
- Mini aka Midget aka Stills aka Front-Of-House – measures 8×10 inch, 20×25 cm, and issued in sets of usually 8.
- Jumbo Lobby Card – measures 14×17 inch, 36×45 cm, and issued singly or in sets.
UK – United Kingdom – England:
- Front of House cards aka Front-Of-House aka Stills aka Mini – measures 8×10 inch, 20×25 cm, and issued in sets (normally 8) and are equivalent to the American Mini Lobby Cards. They are normally placed outside of the theatre, hence the name ‘Front of House’ cards.
- Standard aka A4 aka Foto Satz – measures around 8/9×11/12 inch, 21×29,7 cm (is A4 size). Usually printed on light stock and sometimes come as tear-apart set with very fine perforation holes. There are also sets issued as tear apart booklets.
- A3 aka Foto Satz aka Big/Large – measures around 11/12×16/17 inch, 29,7 x 42,0 cm (is A3 size). Most sets are A4 size, but every now and then they also release A4 sets with a few extra A3 size cards.
- Standard – measures around 9/10×13/14 inch, 22×34 cm. Usually printed on light stock and sometimes come as tear-apart set with very fine perforation holes.
- Small – measures around 8×10 inch, 21×27 cm, printed on thin, glossy stock and the name of the film is usually printed in French in a corner in a white box.
- Medium –
- Large –
- Small aka Mini aka Midget aka Stills aka Front-Of-House – measures 8×10 inch, 20×25 cm, and issued in sets of usually 8.
- Standard aka 11×14 inch – measures 11×14 inch, 28×36 cm, and issued in sets of usually 8.
- Medium –
- Large –
Dutch-Belgian sets –
A lot of other sizes and types of lobby card sets were and are also being used as many movie distribution companies in the Netherlands still produce their own movie lobby cards and posters for films.
Dutch-Belgian sets –
- Photobustas aka Fotobustas or Italian Lobby Cards – measured around 14×20 inch until the late 50’s, then size changed to around 18/20×27/28 inch, around 50×70 cm. Photobustas are Italian posters that look a bit like giant lobby cards and usually come in sets of 8, 10, 12 or 16.
Of course the original USA 11×14 inch sets are considered the original lobby card sets. But on our website we also consider material from other countries as lobby card sets, even if they are sets of photos. In our opinion, as long as they were produced to be used as promotional material in movie theatres, it’s a lobby card set.
Lobby cards are relatively small and easy to frame (compared to posters) and they can be displayed in albums.
The artwork is usually quite nice and they are often cheaper and rarer than posters.
Certain lobby cards have acquired an almost Holy Grail status among collectors. Prime examples include the the famous crop-duster scene from North by Northwest and the lobby card featuring Norman Bates and The House from Psycho. Because these single cards effectively capture the essence of the movie, their value can often be so much higher than that of any other memorabilia from the film, that this single lobby card will typically sell for more than most of the posters from the same movie.
One card in a set that displays the title and top stars prominently in the graphics. This is the most desirable card in a set. The other cards are often referred to as “Scene Cards” Value is around 20-30% of the one sheet price, PRE-1950 is 40%.
A special oversized (about 17×14″) lobby card usually glossier and sometimes printed on other material than the set. Value is around 20-30% of the one sheet price.
Sometimes the colors on the lobby cards are not the same as in the movie. This is due to that they are often “colorized” by a tinting process and by marketing artists who are trying to sell the movie.
The importance or popularity of the film and the availability are the key factors in determining a lobby card set’s value. Image appeal determines the lobby card value. All cards in a set have a different value. Basic rule: value is proportionate to the graphic appeal or importance of the scene on the card. If the graphic appeal is low or it’s a bad scene than it’s often called a “Dead Card”. Average value of a lobby card is 10-25% of the one sheet price. Dead cards have a value of 5% or less of the one sheet or 10-25% of a good scene card. Original lobby cards from the original country of release are the most valuable and collectible!