“Lost” Movie Posters Set to Bring $250,000+ in Heritage Auctions Event

The only known copies of movie posters for the 1931 films The Public Enemy, 1931. Estimate: $25,000+.

The Berwick Discovery of Lost Movie Posters – a trove of 33 classic and incredibly rare posters dating back as far as 1930 – many examples of which were thought to be lost for all time, ranging in value from $500+ to $200,000+, will debut at Heritage Auctions on March 23 as part of the company’s Vintage Movie Poster Auction.

The posters were found in a small country auction in Berwick, PA, in several lots stuck together with wallpaper paste. When the consignor saw the posters, they immediately picked up the phone and called Grey Smith, Director of Movie Posters at Heritage.

“When he described what he was looking at, I knew this was a huge discovery and that poster collectors around the country would want to own these,” said Smith. “What’s even more amazing is that the posters were found in the attic of house and had apparently been unsuspectingly used as insulation.”

The jewel of the collection is a 1931 Style F one sheet for the Universal horror classic Dracula (estimate: $200,000+), only the fourth Style F poster from the film ever uncovered. A Style F Dracula poster sold at Heritage for $310,000+ in 2009. Also included are the only known copies of movie posters for the 1931 films The Public Enemy, 1931(estimate: $25,000+) and Little Caesar, 1931 (estimate: $20,000+). The entire Berwick Discovery is estimated at $250,000+.

“These posters, including some of the most important titles in Hollywood history, were pasted to boards and used to promote original releases in late 1930 and early 1931,” said Grey Smith, Director of Heritage Vintage Movie Poster Auctions.“When a new release came to town the exhibitor simply plastered the new poster over the previous one.”

Eventually, after an entire stack of posters was built up, they were at some point removed from the boards. From there they made their way into a home attic – possibly to be used as insulation – and were later offered in the small estate auction where the anonymous consignor purchased them for what will likely be pennies on the dollar.

Smith and his staff personally and painstakingly separated the movie posters over the course of several weeks, marveling at the continued emergence of cinematic history.

You can read the full article via ArtDaily here. 

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