Some Risque 1940s Mutoscope Exhibit Cards Combined Women with Sports
The popular Mutoscope exhibit cards include racy shots, sports, and were spread out over several years
Exhibit cards were rampant in the 1920s through the 1960s. The most popular ones among sports card collectors are generally the cards that depicted baseball players and boxers. But another popular non-sports series is famous for its risque shots of women.
The Mutoscope Pin-Up Series, as it’s commonly known, featured several hundred cards of beautiful women. The bulk of the series was issued from 1940 through 1945, but the cards made a bit of a comeback in the 1950s. Jefferson Burdick knew of these cards and called them as Zoe Mozert Drawings when classifying them as W424, along with other exhibits under his ‘Girlies’ section. Today, though, they rarely go by the Mozert name and are instead simply called Mutoscopes, after the Mutoscope Reel Company, which distributed them in exhibit vending machines. That is probably due, in part, because Mozert was only one of many artists involved in the creation of this set. Why Burdick only classified them as Mozert cards is unclear.
Most of the cards in the set are of a non-sports nature. The set includes pictures of all sorts of scantily-clad women — some of which are racy, even by today’s standards, frankly. But a few of the cards focus on sports, depicting the women as athletes of a sort, and it’s those that command some real interest from collectors.
Before we get into those, however, it’s important to note that there are numerous Mutoscope sets with the company seemingly releasing a new one every year. Not counting the later 1950s issues, those sets in the pre-war and war-time era are:
- 1940 Glorified Glamour Girls (32 cards)
- 1941 All-American Girls (32 cards)
- 1942 Yankee Doodle Girls and Multiple (6-in-1) Cards (32 cards)
- 1943 Hot’ Cha Girls (65 cards)
- 1944 Follies Girls (32 cards)
- 1945 Artist Pin-Up Girls (64 cards)
Sports are dotted throughout the Mutoscope sets with each of those sets. A slew of minor sports are found, including archery, billiards, cycling, fencing, fishing, ice skating, roller sating, sailing, skiing. Swimming is loosely included as well, simply because some women are found in bathing suits. But the primary sports in these sets include baseball, golf, and boxing.
Two baseball cards are known. One of the baseball cards titled, “Hit and Miss” displays a woman fielding but missing the ball with her glove. Another baseball card is without equipment but clearly linked to that sport with a suggestive title of, “Sure, Show Me a Diamond and I’ll Play Ball.”
Three golf cards are known — two depicting a female with a club and another with an entire bag. Two of the golf cards are titled, “Up to Par,” but have different images. A third, titled, “Plenty on the Ball,” is there, too. A boxing card, titled, “A Knockout,” is desirable, too, depicting a female boxer relaxing in the corner of a ring.
The cards are all generally pretty affordable. The non-sports cards start at only a few dollars apiece. The sports cards vary quite a bit — not only by sport but by sellers which can sometimes ask for as much as $40-$50 each. But even the major sports cards can be usually bought for half that amount when up for auction.
It is also important to note that these images were used on other products, such as ink blotters. Shown here, for example, is one of the images used on one of the two baseball cards (Hit and Miss) that was used for a blotter.
I have seen enough of these types of blotters with the images to know that many were used. However, I cannot confirm that every Pin-Up Mutoscope image was in fact spread to ink blotters, or any other product, for that matter. The blotters are certainly much rarer than the actual exhibit cards.
This page has a wonderful checklist of the entire Pin-up series. Below is a list of known sports cards that I have observed. It is possible, however, that others could exist.
- 1940 Glorified Glamour – Forced Landing (Roller Skating)
- 1940 Glorified Glamour – Free Wheeling (Cycling)
- 1940 Glorified Glamour – A Good Hookup (Fishing)
- 1940 Glorified Glamour – A Knockout (Boxing)
- 1940 Glorified Glamour – Short on Sails (Sailing)
- 1940 Glorified Glamour – Sure Shot (Archery)
- 1940 Glorified Glamour – Two Cushion (Billiards)
- 1941 All-American – Red, White and You (Skiing)
- 1942 Yankee Doodle – Foil Proof (Fencing)
- 1942 Yankee Doodle – A Good Skate (Ice Skating)
- 1942 Yankee Doodle – Up to Par (Golf)
- 1943 Hot’ Cha – Aiming to Please (Archery)
- 1943 Hot’ Cha – Fisherman’s Luck (Fishing)
- 1943 Hot’ Cha – Nice to Hook Up with (Fishing)
- 1943 Hot’ Cha – Up to Par (Golf)
- 1944 Follies – Hit and Miss (Baseball)
- 1945 Artist Pin-Ups – After All, Everybody Makes Mistakes (Roller Skating)
- 1945 Artist Pin-Ups – Sure, Show me a Diamond and I’ll Play Ball (Baseball)
- 1945 Artist Pin-Ups – Who Said Anchors Away (Sailing)
- 1945 Artist Pin-Ups – Who Said Beautiful but Numb (Ice Skating)