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23 April 2012

Massilia

Today’s post is dedicated to the little known French Massilia label, that published dozens of postcards during the 1930’s. Most of the postcards/cards in this post are from the collection of Amit Benyovits, a long time collector of film star cards, who regularly contributes information to the sites Moviecard.com and Immortal Ephemera. He introduced me to Massilia and I joined him on his search for more information about the label.

 Marie Glory
French card by Massilia.

 Armand Bernard
Armand Bernard. French card by Massilia. Photo: A.C.E.

 Henri Rollan
Henri Rollan. French card by Massilia. Handwritten text at the backside (not entirely readable): "Je suis heureux de pouvoir vous saluer de cette façon un peu inattendue.... aussi inconnue à qui sont dédiés mes efforts, mais qui en pensez... quoi??? Bien sympathiquement... quoi qu'il en soit. Henri Rollan".

Hand-coloured
In a comment on an EFSP post, Amit Benyovits had written me that he had the good fortune to acquire a beautiful set of 84 Massilia hand-coloured postcards/cards. Massilia did not ring a bell for me. I only found a non-coloured Massilia postcard of Armand Bernard in my collection and Jan has a hand-coloured postcard of Henri Rollan with a dedication of Rollan himself at the backside. Later I found a gorgeous card of French silent star Marie Glory at a collector’s fair in the city of Utrecht. The bulk of Benyovits’ set is comprised of European film stars (including the Rollan card), but several major Hollywood movie stars are included as well. Our selection for this post focuses on the female European film stars.

 Mireille Balin
Mireille Balin. French card by Massilia. Collection: Amit Benyovits.

 Madeleine Carroll
Madeleine Carroll. French card by Massilia. Collection: Amit Benyovits.

Jany Holt
Jany Holt. French card by Massilia. Collection: Amit Benyovits.

A Greek Colony
The Massilia cards are large sized (4" x 5-3/4" or 10,5 cm x 15 cm) and printed on high quality card stock. Almost all of them have vibrantly colour-toned images on front and plain white backs. On each card you’ll find a small Massilia logo at the bottom. The cards of Amit Benyovits are scanned from an album, in which the logo also appears on the title page. Inside the album is also an introduction by French star Harry Baur, listed as President of Honor of the L'Union des Artistes. But the album does not offer more factual information about Massilia. With a Google search, you’ll only find on Wikipedia that Massilia is the Latin name of the Greek colony of Μασσαλία. It was founded by the Ionians of Phocaea in 600 BC. The colony was located on the southern coast of Gaul, at the place of modern Marseilles.

 Elvire Popesco
Elvire Popesco. French card by Massilia. Collection: Amit Benyovits.

 Danielle Darrieux
Danielle Darrieux. French card by Massilia. Collection: Amit Benyovits.

Merle Oberon
Merle Oberon. French card by Massilia. Collection: Amit Benyovits.

Sammelbilder
Happily collector and EFSP contributor Didier Hanson could help us further. He wrote: “Massilia was an affiliated label with bonbons Loriot (etablissements UNGEMAC Strasbourg) in the 1930’s. As many, they issued ‘sammelbilder’ (like ‘Mes Vedettes’) about various subjects, as bicycle races and film stars. Loriot issued star pictures in black and white or sepia, and Massillia issued the same pics hand coloured. Many labels used the ‘sammelbilder’ as a gift and promo for their products, as Kivou in Belgium (chocolate), and an incredible amount of cigarettes labels in Germany: Altona, Orami, and so on. They often used Ross Verlag for their movie stars albums, the other subjects being dancers, beautiful women, animals, flags.... and martial subjects when the NSDAP took over.”

 Junie Astor
Junie Astor. French card by Massilia. Photo: Films Albatros. Collection: Amit Benyovits.

Edwige Feuillère
Edwige Feuillère. French card by Massilia. Photo: EPOC. Collection: Amit Benyovits.

 Dita Parlo
Dita Parlo. French card by Massilia. Collection: Amit Benyovits.

Different Poses
At his wonderful site Immortal Ephemera, Cliff Aliperti dates Benyovits' set to approximately 1937-1938 due to inclusion of child stars such as Shirley Temple and Deanna Durbin. On Immortal Ephemera you can find scans of the album cover plus of all the cards, including some cards of pairs. Cliff Aliperti: “Of these pairs Yvette Lebon and Tino Rossi only appeared in one film together, released 1936; Viviane Romance and Tino Rossi appeared in 2, released in 1937 and much later (1972). Also included are the pair of Jacqueline Delubac and Sacha Guity who appeared in a whopping 11 films together: 1 in 1935, the other 10 all between 1936-1938.” Some of the photos look a lot like pictures you can see on similar postcards of other publishers, but poses are different. Didier Hanson: “Keep in mind that 9 times out of 10 the photo atelier took many shots during the photo session, and many or all of them were used to issue postcards, even if the publishers were different. This explains why you can come across similar postcards from different publishing houses.”

 Greta Garbo
Greta Garbo. French card by Massilia. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Collection: Amit Benyovits.

 Viviane Romance
Viviane Romance. French card by Massilia. Collection: Amit Benyovits.

 Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich. French card by Massilia. Photo: Paramount. Collection: Amit Benyovits.

Sources: Didier Hanson, Amit Benyovits, Clifford Aliperti (Immortal Ephemera), and Wikipedia.

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