‘Birth of a Nation’ One Sheet Tops $1.7M Vintage Movie Poster Offering at Heritage

This one sheet poster for D.W. Griffith’s 1915 epic “The Birth of a Nation” sold for $74,687, more than three times expectations in Heritage Auctions’ summer Vintage Movie Posters Auction.

This one sheet poster for D.W. Griffith’s 1915 epic “The Birth of a Nation” sold for $74,687, more than three times the expectation in Heritage Auctions’ summer Vintage Movie Posters Auction.

DALLAS – A one sheet poster for D.W. Griffith’s 1915 epic “The Birth of a Nation”—considered to be one of the most controversial and explicitly racist films of the early 20th century—sold for $74,687 to an HA Live! bidder for more than three times expectations in Heritage Auctions’ summer Vintage Movie Posters Auction. The July 30-31 auction realized more than $1.7 million, with top prices paid for pre-War horror posters and uncommon discoveries for classic American films.

“Despite being one of the most influential motion pictures of all time, posters from ‘The Birth of a Nation’ movie are almost never seen at auction,” said Grey Smith, director of Vintage Posters at Heritage. “I’m not surprised it did well, but I was pleased to see it surpass expectations three times over. The entire auction was a success from start to finish.”

Posters from horror films proved popular as a rare one sheet for 1939’s sequel “Son of Frankenstein,” starring A-listers Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Basil Rathbone, sold for $43,020 and a one sheet for Universal’s 1939 classic “Dracula’s Daughter” sold for $35,850. A one sheet for “The Mummy’s Hand” brought $14,937.

Multiple bidders vied for rare paper from Hollywood classics, including one of just a handful of one sheets known to exist from the 1930 film “Morocco,” starting Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich. The bright stone lithographed copy—which marked Dietrich’s America movie debut – sold for $40,630. A one sheet for “The Bell Boy,” the 1918 film starring cinematic comedy giants Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton, sparked a bidding war among 10 people to blow past it’s $3,000 pre-auction estimate to sell for $35,850.

This is one of three Italian premier display posters for 1966’s “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”—measuring an amazing 39-inches by 110-inches—sold for an astounding $31,070 against an $18,000 estimate.

This is one of three Italian premier display posters for 1966’s “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”—measuring an amazing 39-inches by 110-inches. It sold for an astounding $31,070 against an $18,000 estimate.

Unusual discoveries sparked intense bidder interest as a scarce insert format poster for the iconic “Casablanca” sold for $33,460 and a set of three Italian premier display posters for 1966’s “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”—measuring an amazing 39-inches by 110-inches—sold for an astounding $31,070 against an $18,000 estimate. Famed poster artist Drew Struzan’s original acrylic painting for the one sheet used for “Cannonball Run II” sold for $21,501.

Additional highlights include but are not limited to:

• A one sheet for “The 39 Steps” realized: $31,070;
• An advance one sheet for the 1948 “Superman” serial realized: $20,315;
• A Douglas Fairbanks stock poster three sheet realized: $16,730;
• The always popular one sheet for “This Gun for Hire’ realized: $15,535.

For more information about this auction, visit the Heritage Auctions website.


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