Premiums sought by kids of all ages during 1950s

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By Susan Mullikin

Q: I read Antique Trader all the time and see people asking about their items and finally decided to see if you may be able to solve the mystery of this club card and pin for me. It appeared to have that 1950s appeal to me and was probably why I had purchased it for just a (well-spent) dollar.
I picked this up at an old-collector show probably about 10 years ago. I haven’t come across much information about it since and have never seen another like it. I was hoping you may be able to tell me more about it.

Many thanks for your time,

Tom DePina

A: One highlight of a child’s life during the 1940s-1960s was the discovery of premiums. Many were found within cereal boxes and the like, but the most coveted premiums were membership premiums such as yours from Al’s Kiddie Club. Membership premiums appealed to children in that they had to send away for them, and then had the anticipation of waiting for them to arrive. The concept alone was appealing to be accepted by a group where otherwise one was not accepted and boosted one’s self-esteem greatly. A kid could be a kid with his dreams of what membership entailed.

Membership clubs, ephemera, and premiums were an enduring staple of the Golden Age of radio history. Most kids were hard pressed at that time to recall a friend that was not a member of one radio or television club or another. Some clubs were interwoven in multiple ways, combining radio, comics, magazines, TV, and even movies. Marketing angles were brilliant, and the sense of bond, or kinship with one’s particular club or fan group, was all the more heightened when it was a secret society of one kind or another.

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Kiddie clubs were held across the United States in theaters on Saturdays during the ’50s and ’60s. As your membership card and pin indicate, Al’s Kiddie Club was held Saturdays at 2 p.m. at the Warner Theatre of Washington, D.C. While doing research, I did read about the goings on of the Kiddie Club of Huntsville, Ala., held at the Lyric theater. Anyone who was a preteen and attended the junior high went to the Lyric on Saturday mornings. The Kiddie Club was a way of life for most. While there, most kids would sing or perform some other act and the best act would win a prize. After the club, a movie was played. High school brought an end to one’s part in the Kiddie Club.

Your membership card and badge in mint condition would bring at least between $10-$20 each and more if the right demand is present in the marketplace at the time of sale.

Thank you for being an avid reader of Antique Trader magazine.

Susan Mullikin, owner of Mother and Daughter Vintage Clothing and Antiques is an honors graduate of the Asheford Institute of Antiques. For the last 25 years she has specialized in assisting clients across the U.S. in regards to fine antique garments, textiles, and ladies accessories. She provides conservation, restoration and appraisal services. 

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