March 26, 2012 6:03pm PT by Andy Lewis
Newly Discovered Trove of Rare Movie Posters Fetches $503,000 at Auction
A trove of rare movie posters from the early '30s discovered in Berwick Pennsylvania fetched $503,000 at an auction conducted by Heritage Auctions.
The most coveted item in the collection was a rare 1931 one-sheet from Dracula, just one of four known copies in existence, which fetched $143,400, slightly below its initial estimate of $200,000.
A one-sheet fromCimarron, the 1931 classic that was the first Western to win a best picture Oscar sold for $101,575 almost ten time its initial estimate of $12,000.
High prices were also realized for the only known one-sheet for James Cagney's gangster classic Public Enemy, which sold for $59,750, and the only B-style one-sheet for Edward G. Robinson's Little Caesar, which sold for $41,825. Both prices exceeded the presale estimates of $25,000 and $20,000 respectively.
The $503,000 received for the entire collection of thirty-three posters in the “Berwick Discovery” was more than double the initial estimate of $250,000.
“These posters are among the rarest, most sought after ‘Holy Grail’ pieces,” said Grey Smith, Director of Heritage Vintage Movie Poster Auctions. “The Public Enemy one sheet picturing James Cagney and Jean Harlow is particularly stunning and has never been offered at auction and the Little Caesar one sheet is one of only two known copies, making this a potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the right collector.”
Few posters remain from the 1920s and 1930s since movie houses either plastered a new release on top of an old poster or threw them away.
The Berwick Discovery was found at an auction in the small Pennsylvania town. The posters were stuck together with wallpaper glue. and had apparently been used for insulation in a house's attic. Smith and his team carefully separated the posters, carefully using steam to melt the glue.
See copies of the Public Enemy and Little Caesar posters below.