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Auction featuring hundreds of cinema's most stunning silent movie posters roars at Heritage Auctions
King Kong (RKO, R-1938). Very Fine on Linen. One Sheet (27.5" X 41").

DALLAS, TX.- Dwight Manley likes to collect originals, things that were among the first made, and items that are unique. Nowhere is that seen more vividly – not to mention boldly and colorfully – than in his collection of silent film posters that will find new homes when they are sold in Heritage Auctions’ Treasures of the Silent Screen Movie Posters Signature® Auction July 15-16 – the largest ever dedicated to silent-era posters.

Manley’s collection is widely recognized as the premier assemblage of silent film posters – a trove that includes the largest selection of silent Westerns – in the world, a trove of roughly 2,300, more than 550 of which will be included in this exceptional event. Manley said he is parting with the collection because much of it has been stored away, instead of displayed appropriately for others to enjoy. A significant portion of the remaining collection will be donated to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“It’s a crime that much of this collection has been stored away, where others who love film history were unable to enjoy it,” Manley said. “Movie posters weren’t created to be kept. They were created to promote films, and maybe get reused, but ultimately to be discarded. But when you look at some of the pieces in this sale, especially the stone lithograph posters, these are undeniable works of art that should be enjoyed.”

“This is the best collection of silent film posters ever compiled,” Heritage Auctions Movie Posters Associate Director Zach Pogemiller says. “You have to remember, not too many people focused on that specific era. In addition, movie posters were not made to be collected. They were meant to promote films and eventually be thrown away or destroyed, so there weren’t many made, and most of those that were made were not kept.

“On top of that, the period most people think of as the ‘silent film era’ ran from about 1911-29 – meaning some of the posters in this collection are over 100 years old. They’re basically antique paper, and again, if they were kept at all, they often weren’t stored very carefully, so the fact that they still exist at all is remarkable.”

So few examples the posters in the sale survived that Manley estimates that about half of the lots are unique, without a replica to be had anywhere in the world. That rarity, he said, makes it difficult to part with many of them.

“In a way, they are like children, because they’re unique – a lot of them in this auction are unique,” Manley says. “When you look at them, you often have an emotional connection to when you found them.”

Manley could remember years of such emotional connections during this sale, which includes the two first posters in his collection: a King Kong (RKO, R-1938) One Sheet – notable because it is the only poster in which Kong carries Fay Wray in his hand – and a Three Sheet from The New Frontier (Republic, 1935), starring John Wayne.

The auction is chock-full of stunning posters, among them what is believed to be one of just two copies of a One Sheet from The Grim Game (Paramount, 1919) that is being offered by Heritage Auctions for the first time. The thriller starred Harry Houdini in his first feature film (a year earlier he had appeared in a serial), and poster material of any kind from any of the five Houdini movies is extremely rare; any showing him performing magic are even more scarce. The poster features Houdini in the midst of the feat for which he is remembered best: escaping from a straitjacket.

The auction includes more than 50 lots featuring Charlie Chaplin, arguably the biggest star of the silent-film era. Among the highlights are:

· A The Kid (First National, 1921) One Sheet Standing Style: According to the previous owner, actor Jack Larson, this was Chaplin’s personal copy of this spectacular poster and is being offered by Heritage Auctions for the first time.

· From Chaplin’s second film and one of the first films to approach war from a humorous perspective, a Three Sheet from Shoulder Arms (First National, 1918): Likely the only surviving example, it is offered by Heritage Auctions for the first time in nearly five years.

· From Chaplin’s first full-length feature film – in which he wrote, produced, directed, edited and starred – an “Embrace Style” One Sheet from The Kid (First National, 1921), offered by Heritage Auctions for the first time.

· A One Sheet from A Dog's Life (First National, 1918): Was purchased in 1990 by director Richard Attenborough while in the initial stages of his movie biography of Chaplin.

Also offered are a pair of Disney rarities (offered in separate lots): an Alice Gets in Dutch (Winkler, 1924) One Sheet and a one sheet from Alice the Lumberjack (Margaret J. Winkler, 1926). The Alice the Lumberjack poster includes a character that evokes the idea of “Mickey Mouse before there was a Mickey Mouse. In addition, the film’s producer was Joseph Kennedy – father or John and Robert Kennedy.
The first film with sound was The Jazz Singer, which is represented in the sale by a massive (19 feet 5 inches) 24 sheet.

One impressive lot in the Silent Screen Movie Posters auction is not a poster at all: Manley’s collection includes a White Shadows in the South Seas (MGM, 1928) Academy Award Statuette. The historically very important: of the roughly 3,700 Oscars that have been handed out, only 15 – including the one offered here – have been awarded for silent films. “This was the first Oscar for a silent film ever offered at auction,” Manley says, “and considering the fact that this was awarded during the first year of movies with sound, it very well also could be the last for a silent film that reaches auction.

Highlights from the auction can be viewed through July 1 at Heritage Auctions’ New York office (445 Park Ave., New York, New York 10022) and from June 29-July 8 at Heritage’s Beverly Hills office (9478 West Olympic Blvd., 1st Floor, Beverly Hills, California, 90212). Highlights also can be viewed by appointment at Heritage Auctions’ headquarters, at 2801 W. Airport Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75261.

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