The most valuable Frankenstein movie poster ever sold at public auction — the only 6-foot example from the 1931 Universal horror classic known to exist — sold for $358,000 in Heritage Auctions’ $2.1 million Vintage Movie Posters Auction. The poster was the top lot in the March 28-29 auction and was discovered by Steve Wilkin, who found the poster in a long closed and boarded-up projection booth in a Long Island theater where he worked as a teen.
“Serious collectors know the best time to buy a new discovery is the first time it’s offered at auction,” said Grey Smith, Director of Vintage Posters at Heritage Auctions. “This is quite simply an amazing poster and a true piece of Hollywood history. It will be the gem of any collection. Period.”
The Style C three sheet measures a hulking 41-inches by 78-1/2-inches and had apparently been used by the theatre as a display for a number of reissues of the film, as was so often the case throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Bidders also pushed the sale price of an 11-inch by 14-inch lobby card from the film to $40,630, making it the most valuable example of its kind from the movie.
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Frankenstein (Universal, 1931). Three Sheet (41″ X 78.5″) Style C.
To say that the 1931 horror classic Frankenstein was monumental is an understatement in the impact it made on the audiences of the day and remains as THE link that gets us where we are today in the evolution of the essentials of the horror film. Every cliché of cinema horror was created with this film: the mad scientist, the misunderstood monster, the angry villagers carrying torches, the dark laboratory filled with science fictional devices, and the creepy assistant. And doesn’t every dark, silent cinema monster owe its existence to this giant creature with the electrodes protruding from his neck? From the Creature of the Black Lagoon, to Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw, to Jason of Friday the 13th, and to all of the undead Zombies that followed, the hulking horror created by Boris Karloff, James Whale, and Jack Pierce influenced them all. They can all be traced back to the appearance of Karloff in the role of the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Posters for this film have always been infamously difficult to find! Only a small handful of one sheets including one teaser, one six sheet, one insert, and a restored half sheet are all that have appeared of the posters, not including lobby cards. Offered in this lot is the only known copy of either of the two style three sheets created for the debut of the film. This is the Style C and is arguably the best graphic of the two styles. The poster was found in the early 1970s in a long closed and boarded over projection booth in a remodeled theater. It had apparently been used as a display for a number of reissues of the film with its counterpart Dracula, as was so often the case throughout the 1930s and 1940s. It had been trimmed of its borders and there was paper trimmed around the monster’s head, on the right side of the poster above his shoulder and upper portion of the small space to the left side of the monster’s head. There were quarter size holes taken from the monster’s eyes as well as a chip from his upper forehead on the left of image and one next to his left eye, poster right, just before his left ear. There was approximately six inches of paper trimmed from the bottom of the image which extended into the woman’s hand and a spot extended up to just into her hair and into the far left side of her face. There was approximately ¾ to 2 inches trimmed from the left side of the image and approximately 1 inch to the right. The top of the monster’s head was intact. There was some paper chipping in the upper folds of the poster as well as some chips from the monster’s chin and just to the right of his mouth. There was a much larger piece missing in the image area just above the woman’s body and into the credits above. There was a chip in the last “N” of “Frankenstein” and a smaller chip in the “F.” The title and credits have been airbrushed. There were other minor spots of paper loss within the image that have been touched up. Professional restoration has addressed all of these condition issues and the poster now displays beautifully. Fair/Good on Linen.