Original vintage movie posters and movie memorabilia were never meant to be bought or sold. From the birth of cinema, movie posters were loaned or "rented" to move theaters strictly to be displayed to promote a film, then returned to the film exchange or sent to the next theater on the distribution circuit. Printed on inexpensive paper, movie poster art was never intended to be preserved for posterity. Unlike so-called "limited edition prints" and the glossy reproductions available from numerous sources, original movie posters are the actual theater-used artifacts made and displayed when the film was actually released.
In 1933, one of the darkest years of the Great Depression, a theater owner might receive a 15-cent credit for returning a movie poster to his regional exchange. Compare this figure with the cost of a gallon of gas (18 cents) or a loaf of bread (12 cents) and it's easy to understand why very few movie posters survived from this period. If the austerity of the times and the frugality of theater owners was not enough to keep movie posters out of the hands of the general public, the sweeping paper drives of the war years also did their part to help keep movie memorabilia out of general circulation. So it's no surprise that movie posters from the years of 1930 through 1945 are quite scarce.
In fact, it is estimated that fewer than 20 copies of movie posters exist from most films made during the period of 1930 through 1945. For many landmark films of the era (e.g., "The Grapes of Wrath", "Stagecoach", "The Wizard of Oz", "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "Fury", "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes", "Flash Gordon") it is believed that less than a dozen examples have survived of any particular poster.
Dig deeper into the 1930s and the numbers grow even smaller. For many films produced at the depths of the Depression, only a handful of posters have ever surfaced. Included in his ultra-rare group are original movie posters for "The Big Trail", "Tarzan, the Ape Man", "The Public Enemy", "Flying Down to Rio", "The Thin Man", "Frankenstein", "Dracula", "The Bride of Frankenstein", "I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang", "King Kong", "Grand Hotel", "The Cocoanuts", "All Quiet on the Western Front" and numerous others.For more information please visit:www.filmposters.com
Special thanks to Andy Dobson in the United Kingdom for his valuable research and contribution to The Thin Man 1934 website collection.
As a classic movie poster aficionado and collector, Andy's extensive knowledge in the manner to which MGM and the National Screen Service cataloged, for referencing purposes, movie posters, lobby cards and production stills in the Golden Age of Hollywood has greatly benefited this archival collection.
Thank you Andy.