Vintage Pin Up: Earl Moran



What The Butler Saw

You’ve probably noticed
the occasional “Mutoscope”
cards that have been posted
here from time to time
on the Muscleheaded Blog….

And you might have
wondered just what
the heck a “Mutoscope”
was, anyhow.

Mutoscope was actually
a trade name name of
a large company in Chicago-butler
the American Mutoscope

….who originally made an
early motion picture device,
similar to the Edison Company’s Kinetoscope, using flip cards on
a ‘Rolodex’ sorta wheel, to
simulate motion.

The wheel would hold
about 800 cards, but
would only display
for a few seconds,

… to see the whole
‘movie’, you’d have to
continue to put in coins.

I’m pretty sure that
you’ve seen the kind of
thing in museums
and some older arcades —

You put a coin in the device,
you turn the handle, a light
turns on inside, and you look
down into a viewfinder.

The most popular title back
in Great-Granddaddy’s day
was called:
What the Butler Saw ” —

—  a series of scenes
featuring a Victorian
Age lady undressing in1
her bedroom as if
seen through a
keyhole —

( at right, you can see
one of the more ‘explicit’ scenes from this vintage set )

which, when viewed by
contemporary standards
would be considered
very mild, even trite,
as far as pornography goes,

……………. but at the time
was extremely racy, indeed.

In fact, the short Mutoscope’s
suggestive title became a
catch-phrase to describe
the whole genre.

I love these things–
I’m absolutely fascinated
by them.

Not that I didn’t know
that those stuffy Victorians
got naked, exactly,
but that
they actually got turned on
by the thought of a pretty
lady doing it.


These things got so
popular, they were soon
found almost everywhere —

….. and were being made by a number of different companies
in a number of different formats.

Not all of them showed m3
risqué material, either —
far from it .

Most were completely mundane —
like cartoons, news films,
travelogues, etc……

But there were a number
of devices that, while not
containing actual salacious

( and sometimes not
even a ‘moving’
image, but a
picture card
or a diorama )

….. would have a ‘come-on’ sign
advertising something very
confidential and prurient–
(using the old PT Barnum rule)

IF one would only put
in a coin to see for themselves.

Like this one-
The sign advertises
” Very Naughty ”
” Strip Poker ” –
put your coin in,
and ‘ voila ‘ –


The joke would then
be revealed —
——— usually an innocent view,
some kind of pun or
a play on words.

for a penny….

Not a bad price to enjoy
a laugh on oneself, I guess.

I remember one from
my childhood that was
in the corner of this
old candy store —

escoIt said:
on the machine,

….. and when you
slipped in a nickel,

( hey, even I’m not old enough
for the penny version )

…………….. you got a magnified
view of a living ant farm.

By the 1920’s, the whole genre of
coin operated gizmos were being
called “Peep Show” machines —midgetmovie
and they were usually found
in penny arcades.

The flip card format
was especially
good for displaying
still images slowly –

So, more and more machines
were set up to show 12
images for a coin —
– timed at 3 second intervals.

This was used for all kinds
of materials, views of a city
for instance, or humorous cartoons….

…..  and came to be called
“Exhibit Cards”.

But the most profitable
ones displayed Pin-Ups.

Sure, there were cards for sports,
comics, fortune telling, movie stars, flowers, and patriotic themes, (just about anything!),
but the ‘girlie’ ones , especially
those featuring Pin Up Art,
were top draws.

The cards for these machines
were done by artists who are
now considered to be past
masters of the Pin Up genre —

…….. including Gil Elvgren, Zoe Mozert,
Rolf Armstrong, Earl Moran, etc.

a2The pin-up exhibit cards were soon also finding a marketplace outside arcades, at news-stands, in magazines …..

And especially, in vending machines, selling them individually, or in series.

Their popularity hugely increased once World War II broke out….

Every serviceman had at least one set of these, it seemed.

Two major companies were marketing the majority of the cards, Mutoscope, and Exhibit Supply Company,

….. although today, most people
just generically call them
“Mutoscope Exhibit Cards”.exhibit

The cards had a very distinctive look then, and now,

……and most are easily identified,

because of their ethereal colors and simple, airy design  —

— printed, as they were, to display just as well under the lights and magnification of a Mutascope machine,

………… as to hold in your hand and view them up close.

Usually, they had some kind of legend, pun, or title that was vaguely relevant to whatever position or activity the pin-up girl was engaged in —

………..  well known titles of individual Pin-Up Exhibit Cards included:

Disturbing Elements ” ( Gil Elvgren ) disturbingelements

Hit the Deck
( Zoe Mozert )

I’ll Say So
(Rolf Armstrong)

Visibility Perfect
( Earl Moran )

Jutht My Thize
( Howard Connolly )

Anchors Aweigh
( K.O. Munson )

Up to Par ” ( Edward D’Ancona )

Red, White and You
( Billy DeVorss )

Would You?
( Earl Christy )

Air Minded
(Mable Rollins Harris )

Total Eclipse
( Haskell Coffin )

Shoulder Arms
(G.C. Orde )

Sailor’s Sweetheart
(Hy Hintermeister)

Keep ‘Em Flying
(Vaughan Alden Bass )

All told, there were at least
10 sets of these Pin Up
Exhibit Cards printed in
the early 1940’s —

……… or, about 500
cards in all, although some
were repeated
over several sets.

Unfortunately, many of these
wonderful vintage cards
have no signature,

………….. and we can only guess
who created the artworks contained on them.

The cards fell out of favor
after the War, as many servicemen returned and
settled down to domestic life —

Sexy returned to
being something
out of the social mainstream…
taboo and undesirable
for the ‘new prosperity’.

And even the greatest
pin-up artists
of the time were pressured to
‘tone down’ their more risqué
work for peacetime printing
applications — calendars, advertising, etc.

During the Eisenhower years,
pin-up girls were often pictured
wearing knee length garments,
with prim and proper posing,
and the cards with girls in
wispy lingerie again became
hard to get novelties.

it seems society’s
blue-noses always find
a way to piss on one’s
parade, it seems.

Not that a little ‘coyness’
once in a while can’t be
sexy, too, I guess.

Either way —
we still have these
vintage cards to
enjoy, right ?

!!! HOY !!!!



The Difference In Decades 1940-1959

Yes, when it comes
to choosing a car to
start that restoration
project the difference
really is in the decades.

I’ll show you what I mean.

Is it about style for you?

The general shape,
the aerodynamic
and the amount
of chrome and trim
on a piece is largely
related to the decade
in which it was created.

Looking at a 1940’s car,
you’ll probably note
the long hood, a vertically
pointed front grill ,
extremely roomy interiors,
and the heavy chrome trims.

‘Clunky’ is a word
that comes to mind.

However, there were some
very stylish pieces–
although mostly in the
post-war years,
around 1948, and 1949.

A beautiful example
of this pre/post war
contrast in styling
can be seen by comparing
the 1940 Ford Deluxe
(above ) and the 1949
Buick Roadmaster.
(at right )

In the 1950’s,
went for a more
aerodynamic feel,
– despite still being boxey –

– they wanted their cars to
be seen as cutting-edge,
and not ‘stodgy’ or
old fashioned.

The trim could be quite
over the top,
with massive fins,
or it could be very understated,
like in the early Corvettes.

You can definitely see the
impact of war-time
coming to the automotive
marketplace by
the early 1950’s –
– and ‘streamlining’ was
the watchword for styling.

And of course,
there were a lot of aviation
references – ‘jet’ this
and ‘rocket’ that.

Styling, of course,
is one thing –

So, you ask:
what about the
drive-trains, engines, etc ?

No matter how great a car looks,
if it drives like a rock, who needs it?


Suspension systems:
king-pin front suspensions
still dominated in the 1940’s
replaced in the 1950’s by
systems more oriented toward
comfortable ride and control.

Power Steering-
Chrysler came out with optional
power steering on their 1951 Imperial,
followed by Cadillac the following
year — then, as standard equipment
in 1954.

Brakes- almost all cars
in the American market
used unassisted hydraulic
drum brakes after 1939 –

– and while 4 wheel discs
didn’t become a standard
until the 1980’s,
(front disc brakes were
first introduced as standard
equipment in the 1962
Studebaker Avanti )
power assisted brakes were
optional on many 1950’s
vehicles…. and on
Cadillac and Buicks
it was standard after 1954.

Automatic Transmission:
Available on most cars in the
1940’s as an option, it wasn’t
a common feature until the

Engines improved vastly
by the 1960’s —
V-8 technologies like
over-head cam (‘OHC’),
Y-Block and hemispherical
combustion chambers “Hemi”
came into their own in
1950’s models like:

the 1951 Studebaker Commander,
1955 Chrysler C-300,
1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, etc.

Tires: All domestic cars were sold
with Bias-Ply tires standard
until the 1970’s, with the
exception of the 1967 GTO.

Take all together, this might indicate
to the novice car enthusiast that the 1950’s automobile would be a better bet for a starter restoration job than an earlier one –
and I think
that’s a logical assumption.

Some of the most highly
thought-of domestic cars
are from that decade —

the 1953 Chevy Corvette,
the 1955 Ford Thunderbird,
1953 Studebaker Starliner,
1953 Buick Skylark,
1955 Packard Caribbean,
1951 Chrysler New Yorker,

and as for internationally
made models:
( if you insist ), there’s the :
1959 Austin-Healey 3000,
1957 BMW 507,
1955 Jaguar XK140,
1958 Aston-Martin DB-4,
and 1954 Mercedes Benz 300-SL.

Whatever you choose,
remember —
you’ll only finish it,
and then drive it,
if you love it.

!!! HOY !!!!