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Over the next several months it is my plan to publish a series of articles titled, “Before They Were Batman…” The premise of the series is to identify cards and educate collectors about the show’s actors and the card sets that they were featured it. Of course, we are all familiar with the 1966 Topps Batman card sets, but these articles are going to delve into earlier, less mainstream issues.
For this article, I am going to examine the earliest known card, or in this case stamp, of the notorious Penguin actor, Burgess Meredith. With a 30+ year career in the sports memorabilia side of the hobby, the vernacular is embedded in my DNA, therefore, I refer to this stamp as his rookie card, or the first appearance of Meredith in a card/stamp issue.
This card was included in the 1947 Hollywood Star Stamps set. Per the very detailed information provided by Troy Kirk at the www.moviecard.com website, the following information was published about this stamp.
The stamp was issued by the Motion Picture Relief Fund during 1947. The stamps were issued in color and came in various sizes. There was a total of 474 stamps in the set and were sold in sheets for 10 cents each. 45 different stamp sheets make up a complete set with each sheet containing 6, 9, or 12 stamps. An album was also issued with this set.
Troy Kirk writes up the set, “This set was apparently the brainchild of actor Jean Hersholt. At the time this set was issued, Hersholt was the President of the Motion Picture Relief Fund. This was an organization set up in 1921 to raise money and help actors and others in the film industry who were ill or down on their luck. This organization continues to this day and is now called the Motion Picture and Television Fund. The motto of this organization is "We Take Care of Our Own." Hersholt was President of the Motion Picture Relief Fund from 1939 to 1956. There is now a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award which is given out from time to time at the Academy Awards to honor an "individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry."
The purpose of this stamp set was to raise money for the Motion Picture Relief Fund. Harlich Manufacturing of Chicago is credited as the manufacturer of the album. The album states that this set was "Approved by National Poster Stamp Society. Certificate No. 195." It was envisioned that there would be future versions of this stamp collection, as these were titled "First Edition." It appears there was never a second edition.
Great care was used in producing this album and the Hollywood Star Stamps. The album contains an interesting writeup titled "Instructions for Hollywood Star stamp Collectors."
Here is what it states: "Hollywood Star-Quiz-Stamps test your movie knowledge. Directions on each of the 4 "Movie Quiz" pages will enable you to place these stamps in their proper places, if you know your movies. If you are not certain, do not stick the stamps in place until you refer to the Index (inside back cover). Check the stamp code letter with the Star's name in the Index and this will give you a clue.
36 pages of this Album are devoted to the various series of Hollywood Star Stamps, which are available in Packets (12, 9, or 6 different stamps to a Packet sheet) at all places where the Hollywood Screen Stars Stamp Album is sold.
A complimentary sheet of Star Stamps is attached to this Album as a specimen of the fine lithography used in this issue of stamps.
With the exception of Star-Quiz-Stamps, each stamp bears a number which corresponds with the number in the place provided in the Album for stamps. Each stamp also bears the Packet letter and these also correspond with the Packet letter printed in the stamp space in the Album. With this system you cannot misplace stamps. You may determine at a glance what Packet contains desired stamps. Ask for Star Stamps by Packet letter. “
The Meredith stamp is identified as X230, and recognized to be graded by PSA. This example has graded a PSA 7. My next article will deal with additional Batman stars who appeared in this 1947 Stamp set. Questions may be directed to Troy R. Kinunen at email@example.com or call (414)-828-9990. I am always looking for vintage Golden Age super hero cards, autographs, and memorabilia to add to my collection.