Nearly three dozen movie theater posters from Hollywood’s Golden Age were found in an attic in Pennsylvania. They were stuck together with wallpaper glue when they were purchased for around $ 30.000 at an auction last month.
The buyer, who chose to remain anonymous, consigned them to Heritage Auctions in Dallas, where the stack of 33 Depression-era posters were painstakingly steamed and gingerly separated over the course of several weeks. “As we started to peel them apart, it was one of the greatest treasure troves from a beautiful period of poster printing,” said Grey Smith of Heritage Auctions, where the posters go on the block March 23. The separated posters underwent minor touch-ups and were backed with linen at a restoration house, he said. “A number of them were in very, very nice shape. … The colours had not seen the light of day in 80 years,” Smith said. They were glued, one atop the other, apparently as each new release came to town.
It includes extraordinarily rare original posters from the 1931 films “The Public Enemy,” “Cimarron,” “The Front Page” and “Little Caesar.” Some are versions never before seen, while others are among only one or two other known copies. James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Barbara Stanwyck are among the idols gracing several posters, but Bela Lugosi, bug-eyed and menacing in the 1931 ad for horror classic “Dracula,” counts as the star of the auction with a starting bid of $200,000. An identical poster owned by actor Nicholas Cage sold at auction in 2009 for $310,000.