The Library of Congress, who own the original lantern slide prints, describe these black and white silent movie title cards from around 1912 as text “superimposed on humorous photograph, and the whole shown in a fancy carved frame.” These images were created by Scott & Van Altena (aka John D Scott and Edward Van Altena), who were considered some of the leading slide makers of the era.
Granted, they’re not exactly like the loud and eye-popping previews you see before movies today — or even the dancing soda cups of the 1950s — but they got the job done, and amused the crowds at the same time.
Old silent movie title cards: Welcome (1912)
Motion picture etiquette: Loud talking or whistling not allowed
Ladies kindly remove your hats
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Madam, how would you like to sit behind the hat you are wearing
Please applaud with hands only
Kindly remain seated
Ladies and children are cordially invited to this theatre. No offensive pictures are ever shown here
Your ad could be here!
Advertise your business on this screen and get results. See the manager
Change of song to-morrow
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If annoyed when here, please tell the management
Intermission (with two cats)
3 minutes intermission while changing pictures
Don’t forget your umbrella or other parcels
Good night: The final silent movie card of the evening
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The need to remind people how to behave suggests that these old movie houses could be raucous places. And the card reading “No offensive pictures are ever shown here” is a reminder that many old movies (before the Hays Code of the early 1930s) were violent and risqué even by today’s standards.