1938 – When “The Lone Ranger” first rode onto movie screens…

The Lone Ranger (1938) - Republic Pictures

The Lone Ranger (1938) – Republic Pictures

Printed in 1938, the same year Republic Pictures released their popular Lone Ranger serial based on the radio programme of the same name, these beautifully detailed and colorful premium cards were prizes at Gum Inc.

Lone Ranger (1938) - Republic Pictures Card Art

Depicted are a range of five thrilling illustrated scenes with such titles as “Tonto Saves the Lone Ranger,” “The Lone Ranger Licks Lester,” “The Lone Ranger Rescues Joan at the Pit,” “Tonto Fights Off the Troopers,” and “The Lone Ranger Foils a Murder.”

In 1938, Gum Inc. purchased the rights to produce Lone Ranger gum. For one cent, a child received an oversized stick of gum housed in a colourful wrapper picturing the Lone Ranger and his faithful steed, Silver.

Although no card or prize was contained in the package, patrons could save the wrappers and redeem them by mail for one of five large premium cards that featured a different scene from the current Lone Ranger serial playing in theaters. (The premiums are catalogued as R83A in the American Card Catalog).

The Lone Ranger premiums, because of their size and exceptional graphics, have always been regarded by collectors as one of the finest such issues ever produced.

A set of the  cards sold for over $600 on Heritage Auctions earlier this year, but that’s small potatoes compared with the price some of the original art fetched back in 2017, after it was auctioned off by Robert Edwards Auctions.

1938 R83A Gum, Inc. Lone Ranger Original Artwork For Premium #1 "Tonto Saves the Lone Ranger"

1938 R83A Gum, Inc. Lone Ranger Original Artwork For Premium #1 “Tonto Saves the Lone Ranger”

The offered artwork – produced at an over large size in comparison with normal bubble gum card art – was used in the production of the first premium card in the set, designated on the back of the card as “Series A Number 1” and titled Tonto Saves The Lone Ranger.

The painting brings to life the origin of the Lone Ranger as noted by the text on the issued card: “After Jeffries’ outlaws have attacked a band of Texas Ranges and left all their members for dead, Tonto creeps within the ghostly camp by the light of the moon and finds one man still breathing. Here we see the Indian carrying the unconscious survivor away to the safety of his cave, where he will nurse the wounded man back to health and a brilliant career as the Lone Ranger.”

“The Lone Ranger premiums, because of their size and exceptional graphics, have always been regarded by collectors as one of the finest such issues ever produced,” the auction house justifiably noted.

Justifiably, the art sold for $6000.

Lone Ranger (1938) - Republic Pictures Poster

Watch the first episode on the Internet Archive

More on the early Lone Ranger serials at www.b-westerns.com

Long Ranger serial details on Wikipedia

The Lone Ranger and Tonto are trademarks, and the trademark, characters and likenesses are owned by Classic Media, Inc. More information is available at the Classic Media website: http://www.classicmedia.tv

With thanks to Ernesto Guevara

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.



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