Museum of picture cards

Modena - Corso Canalgrande, 103 c/o Galleria Civica

Museum of picture cards




Always open
From Tuesday to Friday 10.30-13 and 15-18. Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10.30-18


Telephone: +39 059 2033090
FAX: +39 059 2033087


The Panini company growth saw a parallel growth in the personal collection of picture cards owned by Giuseppe Panini, the company's founder and the person who conceived the renewal of picture cards in the modern sense.
As a result of intense international activity between 1986 and 1991 in the fields of education, propagation and study, it became necessary to reorganise the Museum according to more scientific criteria in line with modern museography and museology.
Thus, in 1992, Giuseppe Panini, in agreement with the company and the city of Modena, decided to donate the collection to his city. Indeed this was a natural site for a Museum documenting the history and development of picture cards as this city is indeed the world capital of picture card.
The Museum houses numerous collections:


- Liebig Collection: The company whose name, more than any other, is linked to picture cards is certainly Liebig, the famous producer of beef extract. Starting in the 1870's, this company began to create its own series of cards, characterised by scenes dominated by the jar of extract. Having branches throughout the world, Liebig has circulated its picture cards throughout Europe, translating the advertising blurb into several languages. The Liebig picture cards soon stood out for their constant format and for two unchanged items: the white ceramic jar containing the extract and the blue Liebig signature. The first period is characterised by imaginary scenes with children, flowers, women. This was followed by a more didactic study with a wealth of explanatory captions. Until World War I Liebig picture cards were distributed free of charge by shopkeepers, while thereafter they were offered in exchange for stamps contained in the products.

- Cigarette Cards Collection: The cigarette picture card originated in the United States, most likely around the 1870's. At that time, when mechanical production was in its heyday, the packages of cigarettes were reinforced with cardboard. To make the product more attractive the manufacturers soon decided to print colour images on these cards. The first cards were images not linked to the series concept, reproducing individual subjects. Later the manufacturers began producing cards in sequence on specific themes, so as to encourage smokers to purchase the same brand, in order to complete their collection. Since the vast majority of smokers were male, the most common subjects were actresses, female beauties, sports personalities, politicians, cowboy scenes and famous Americans, and so on until a broader range of images was included. Around 1885, this kind of picture cards were distributed in Great Britain too. Initially, ready-made picture cards were imported from America bearing geographic and zoological figures, particularly tropical birds, but production became soon autonomous. The two different cigarette card formats reflect the large and small packages. This typical format was preserved for the advertising of other products and became known as trade cards.

- Letter Seal Stamp Collection: The round rubberised, red paper disks took the place of the wax used in the early 1800's. Later their format changed, becoming square or rectangular, both notched and smooth, adapting to postage stamps. Arising out of the need to seal correspondence, these seals were a typical Italian phenomenon, particularly during the Belle Époque. As the fashion of exhibiting displays and commemorations spread, the production of letter seals became widespread. The museum holds approximately 43,000 letter seals divided by subject.

- Matchbox collection: certainly earlier than the picture cards, these matchboxes are preserved in ancient albums according to the pattern and taste of the collector himself.

- Menu and Seating Card Collection: It was even possible to decorate the table with small chromolithographs used as menus and seating cards. Those produced by the Liebig company are extremely refined and attractive. The Museum holds a complete collection of the 73 series issued between 1884 and 1911.

- Original Album Collection: printed by the various companies to hold the various series, these are often supplied with a rich legend containing information on various topics.

- Calendar Collection: These, too, were used for advertising and include rich colour images. They are in many different formats: the most unusual are those most frequently found at the barbershop. These small calendars, often advertising toiletries, had perfumed pages and frequently showed moderate erotic images.

- Picture Card Collection: The boom in Italian picture cards took place in the 1900's. Starting in about 1925 numerous series, often photographic, were issued, for the most part dedicated to sport champions and film stars. A noteworthy phenomenon took place between 1935 and 1938 in association with sweepstakes that increased collections, distributing rich prices to those who completed albums of the picture cards found in their products. In this regard, there is the famous episode of Feroce Saladino, an extremely rare card because the designer had delayed the delivery of the draft. This card made it possible to complete an album issued by Perugina-Buitoni, linked to the radio show "I Quattro Moschettieri". By completing 150 albums one could win a FIAT 500 car. In 1937 the government was forced to regulate sweepstakes because many companies had resorted to the rare card trick, so that they would not have to distribute the excessively expensive prices. Then, after World War I, the picture cards went into decline in Italy, as in the rest of the world. It was only in the 1950's that it picked up again. Indeed, in this period the "modern" picture card was devised and is still being used today. Freed of its advertising confinements, today such cards are distributed at news stands, together with the albums and their captions. They have now acquired market autonomy. At the beginning of the 1960's the Panini company initially pioneered the field and succeeded in bringing the production and marketing of picture cards to industrial levels, turning them into a world-wide phenomenon.

- Tagliavini - Roccatagliati Collection of Italian periodicals Collection: This collection comprises approximately 514 Italian periodicals for children covering the period running from 1812 to the 1950's. The first children's periodical to come out in Italy in 1812, "L'amico dei fanciulli", was inspired by the French models. The historical events cut short the lifespan of this periodical, although it did draw attention to this new educational instrument. However, only after the twenty years did numerous periodicals appear. The "Novellino", the first full colour comic book dates back to 1898. From the beginning to the 1950's approximately three hundred titles appeared on the market. This is indeed a surprising phenomenon if we consider the degree of illiteracy and poverty found in the country at that time.
The Museum also organises thematic exhibitions upon request.

Fonte: redazione locale di Modena

Foto del Museo della Figurina


Focus On