Hamilton Movie Stars (Red Backs)

Issuing Company: Hamilton Candy Company Dept. Mfg. (Taiwanese name: Hua Mai Chemicals, or Cathay Chemicals in English)
Country of Issue: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore
Year of Issue: Early 1960s
Color/B&W: Color
Number of Cards in Set:
Card Size: 1 9/16" x 2 1/2"
Issued as insert with what product: Gum

Notes: Checklist Incomplete. The company name on the backs of the cards say "Hamilton Candy Company Dept. Mfg." This has caused some confusion for collectors, as there was a Hamilton Gum Company in Canada that also produced trading cards, but these are different companies. The candy company that made these cards was located in Taiwan and was owned by Mei Wu. According to Wu's daughter, this was the first company in Taiwan to market bubble gum. The company started in 1951.

A card collector spoke with Wu's daughter and reported that she told him the following interesting information. "Hamilton was the English name of my father's company." She showed the collector two advertising posters (for the second and third Movie Stars series) to show that the cards were her father's products. She reported that her father's company was known as Hua Mai Chemicals or "Cathay Chemicals" in English, which did not sound good for a bubblegum issuer. "Hamilton was chosen as the best English name closest to "Hua Mai." (Hwa Mai literally means China + Splendid, and is often translated as "Cathay.")

In a San Jose Mercury News article from 2017, Wu's daughter Cynthia Liu put on an art exhibit showing the trading cards from her father's company at the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum in Sunnyvale, California. Wu (who has passed away now) and his family moved to Sunnyvale in 1974. (I don't know if Cynthia Liu is the same daughter that the collector in the previous paragraph spoke with.)

Liu said that "At the time, Taiwan was underdeveloped. They didn't have too many books to read for kids or toys to play with, so my father said he wanted to make these cards." She indicated that her father got the idea from the cigarette cards of the 1930s and 1940s. That is probably why the movie cards that were produced by Hamilton has a similar small size as the older cigarette cards. In addition to the movie star cards, Hamilton also put out a series of artwork cards featuring illustrations of classic Chinese literature.

In Taiwan, the movie star cards were sold with Snow White bubble gum. This brand name was named afer Liu's mother favorite animated movie. Liu said that Disney allowed the company to use the Snow White name in Taiwan, but when the product was sold in Hong Kong and Singapore, the name was changed to Princess Snow.

There is a logo of Snow White in a circle on the top back of these movie cards. In addition to the Snow White logo, cards can be found with the "Snow White" name, the "Princess Snow" name, or neither name, so each card has three variations. Based on Liu's explanation, it looks like these markings indicate where the cards were sold.

The text in the body of the card backs is just some advertising text, nothing to do with the movie star. There are some variations in that text between the Snow White and Princess Snow brands. For example, the Yul Brynner card with the Snow White brand name at the top also has text that states "Snow White Bubble Gum never adhere to your teeth or lips". Cards with the Princess Snow brand name or with neither brand name at the top of the back often have text mentioning Princess Snow bubble gum (example: The top bubble gum in the world is "Princess Snow.")

Some of the cards contain back text as follows:

Don't throw this card away!
Collection cards in sequence.
You will get a free prize!

As was the case with many card sets that included prize giveaways, this set contained short-printed cards to prevent too many prizes from being given away. The daughter that spoke to the card collector related the following information about the short-printed cards:

"The daughter of the president of Hamilton told me that her father was very concerned that some people might actually collect all 100 cards in a series, which meant he would have to give away the most expensive grand gift prize each time. As such, for some numbers he intentionally saw that only a few were printed and not even trusting his employees, her father took it upon himself to mix in the rare cards himself secretly so that no one would be able to get a number of the rare and scarce cards in the same batch. In a word, there was still a chance that you could get all the cards to trade for the grand prize, but the odds were even more difficult than winning the grand prize at the Irish sweepstakes."

An advertising poster from the green back card set listed the prizes that could be won at the bottom of the poster. These include the following:

The collector further reported that "The daughter does not know if anyone did claim the grand prize. The smaller gifts were often handled by the gum vendor merchants themselves, as the exchanged product was often a product they normally carried for sale. Of course, the prizes were different for each series, and for each different locale. The prizes for the very first set of cards issued (when the daughter was only about 4 years old) was "large limited printed cards," which were probably the original prototypes."

Collector Nick Barber writes about his experience with this set: "I lived in Hong Kong in the early sixties which is where I collected my cards (chewed a lot of bubblegum). I left in 1966 missing 6 cards. None of my friends or I ever got a complete set in around six years of trading and munching! I forget if we all needed the same cards to complete our collections, but as I recall my missing cards were never obtained by anyone, or if they were no one fessed up or traded them. I have tried via eBay and other websites for five years plus to complete my set, but never found the cards I need." Nick is still missing #s 49, 60, 63, 78, 89, and 100.

There are some variations within this set, including card #s 4, 13, 31, 36, 46, 47, and 92 (and possibly others). These variations seem to always be between one Hollywood actor/actress and one Japanese actress (for example, card 31 can be found with either Charlton Heston or Yuriko Hoshi. Because these cards were marketed in different countries, it seems likely that these variations are only found when comparing cards issued in different countries. For example, Nick Barber's cards from Hong Kong didn't contain any variations, they only contained the Japanese actress versions of the cards.

Interestingly, though Nick Barber and his friends were avid collectors of the red back movie star cards when they were issued in Hong Kong, his childhood collection contained no green back movie star cards.

Thanks to Ranjodh Dhillon, Richard Minns, John Bell, and Nick Barber for help with this checklist.

1. Deborah Kerr
2. Doris Day
3. Christin Carere
4. Robert Logan
4. Ineko Arama
5. Burt Lancaster
6. Claudia Cardinale
7. Kim Novak
8. Richard Widmark
9. Richard Boone
10. Frankie Avalon
11. Ayako Wakao
12. Esther Williams (spelled Easther on card)
13. Hizuru Takachiho
13. Bing Crosby
14. Edward Byrnes
15. Alain Delon
16. Shirley Jones
17. Laurence Harvey
18. Gary Cooper
19. Janet Leigh
20. Ruliko Asaoka
21. J. P. Belmondo
22. Yvette Mimieux
23. Katherine Spaak
24. Luana Patten
25. Rick Nelson
26. Mylene Demongeot
27. Susan Hayward
28. Claire Gordon
29. Clint Walker
30. John Saxon
31. Charlton Heston
31. Yuriko Hoshi
32. Francoise Arnoul
34. John Wayne
35. Pat Blair
36. James Stewart (photo shows Stewart Granger, not James Stewart)
36. Fujiko Yamamoto
37. Alan Ladd
38. Shirley Temple
39. Gina Lollobrigida
40. Tony Curtis
41. Yul Brynner
42. Anthony Perkins
43. Debbie Reynolds
44. Elvis Presley
45. Marie Laforet
46. Jane Powell
46. Yoko Tsukasa
47. Bobby Darin
47. Izumi Ashikawa
48. Connie Stevens
50. Juliet Prowse
51. Elizabeth Taylor
52. Carole Leslay
53. Rock Hudson
54. Brigitte Bardot
55. Sophia Loren
56. Audrey Hepburn
57. Dorothy Provine
58. Henry Fonda
59. Elke Sommer
61. Elaine Stewart
62. Nina Shippman
64. Marilyn Monroe
65. Troy Donahue
66. Sandra Dee
67. Joyce Taylor
68. Shirley MacLaine
69. Pascale Petit
70. Pete Lawford (spelled Lowford on card)
71. Marlon Brando (spelled Marlene on card)
72. Annette Vadim
73. Pat Boone
74. Natalie Wood
75. Bob Conrad (spelled Canrad on card)
76. Alena Murray
77. Diane McBain
79. Sonya Cordeau
80. Fabian
81. Sal Mineo
82. Carol Lynley
83. Fred Astaire
84. Carole Wells
85. Inger Stevens
86. Martha Hyer
87. Mary Tyler Moore
88. Betty Hutton
90. Brigid Bazlen
91. Gene Kelly
92. Phillip Alford
92. Kyoko Anzai
93. Mac Rae (Card shows Gordon MacRae)
94. Lucas McCain (picture shows Chuck Connors, Lucas McCain is his character name from The Rifleman)
95. Mareonora Sossi
96. Stephen Boyd
97. Antonella Lualdi
98. Tab Hunter
99. Junko Kano

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