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Window cards were displayed in locations OUTSIDE of the theatre. They were printed on a heavier, cheaper card stock. They were placed in the windows of stores, barber shops. beauty salons, doctor and dental offices, bakeries, on telephone poles, etc. in and around a community. Since they were distributed in large numbers, theatres would normally purchase them in bulk. Because so many more window cards were needed, they were printed using a cheaper process. Thus, window cards lack the color, detail and splendor of other sizes of movie art. This is particularly true of the window cards produced by the independent printers.

There are three basic sizes of window cards:


14" x 22"


8" x 14"


22" x 28" (vertical)

The artwork on the window cards released by movie studios and/or the NSS may or may not be the same as that of the one-sheet. They are normally printed in full color, but lack the detail, color and artwork found on other size posters. The standard window cards have a top blank border of approximately 4" to 6" inches. This border was used by the theatre to write in the dates and show times of the featured film. Sometimes the theatres would staple paper banners with the theatre's name in this blank area. Midget window cards also have a border on the top. Jumbo window cards do not.

Click HERE for Size Comparison


Secondary Printers of Window Cards

Window Card As a Collectable


Standard sized window cards were first introduced in the 1910's, shortly after the one-sheet and lobby cards. The earliest window cards were produced in both the standard and the jumbo sizes. Midget window cards were not introduced until the 1930s.

Window cards were initially printed by the movie studios and/or the National Screen Service ("NSS") on cheap card stock, which made them more versatile than the paper materials.

Window cards were initially printed using a brown-and-white rotogravure process. In the 1920's, studios began producing their card stock materials through a process known as photogelatin/collotype or heliotype. This process initially offered one, than two, than three colors.

Window cards were designed as a "mass advertising" tool. However, around 1984, advertising strategies changed and window cards in all three sizes were phased out. Movie studios felt they could better utilize mass advertising dollars in TV, radio and newspaper advertising. In addition, theatres introduced the mini sheet which is produced in larger numbers.


In the 1940's, several independent printing houses began releasing less expensive versions of the studio and/or NSS -produced window cards. These cheaper alternatives were particular popular with small city theatres and theatres located in rural areas. Because window cards were purchased in bulk, the independently produced window cards were much more cost effective for the theatres and film exchanges than were the studio/NSS-produced versions.

The three main independent printing houses known for their window cards were:

Benton Card Company

Globe Company

Hatch Show Prints.

The independent printers began producing their version of the standard size window cards around the 1940's. Because their main intent was to provide an even cheaper window card for use by theatres and film exchanges, the window cards produced by these independent printers were even more lackluster than the movie studio versions. Most of the window cards were printed in either one, two or three colors. The artwork was normally different from the studio/NSS-produced materials.


Because window cards were produced in large quantities, they are not considered as valuable as other sizes of posters. Within the category of window cards, there is a wide disparity in the value of studio-produced window cards and those produced by independent printers. Studio/NSS-produced window cards are considerably more collectible than those that were independently produced. In fact, some collectors do not even consider the independently-produced window cards to have any value at all.

Window cards, particularly those produced by the studios and/or the NSS, are popular with some collectors because of their frameable size and because they are cheaper to obtain than other materials from the same time period. Even independently-produced window cards are considered collectible to some, as they may be the only opportunity to acquire materials on a particular movie.

Window cards were normally shipped to the theatre and/or film exhibitors flat. Since they were normally not originally folded, window cards lose their value if they contain fold lines or creases. Window cards also lose their value if the top blank border has been trimmed off. Writing or other printing on the blank border of a window cards does not affect its value as a collectible.

Card Chart





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