This Is Now The Most Valuable Movie Poster, Sold At Auction For $525,800
One of just two surviving One Sheet Style A movie posters for the 1931 horror classic Dracula set a world record for the most valuable movie poster ever sold at auction when it brought $525,800 Saturday, Nov. 18, in a public auction held live and online by Heritage Auctions.
The poster surpassed the previous auction record of $478,000 which was also set (twice) by Heritage Auctions. Heritage had just sold the only known surviving Italian issue movie poster from 1946 for Casablanca in July 2017, which matched their own previous world record from November 2014 for an only-known 1927 copy of the poster for London After Midnight.
This particular poster style from Dracula depicts the menacing visage of actor Bela Lugosi, who transformed the character into the now-famous Universal Monster. Recently discovered in the San Diego, California, collection of a noted film historian, collectors and experts consider it one of the most desirable horror movie posters ever produced.
The family of its longtime owner, Lt. Col. George J. Mitchell, Jr., an Associate Member of the American Society of Cinematographers, placed the poster up for auction. Mitchell had owned the poster since the 1950s.
“The reason my dad purchased the poster is because he loved horror films. He was drawn to the Bela Lugosi poster because it brought back childhood memories of seeing the film when it was first released,” Mitchell’s son, Arthur Mitchell said. “He remembered going to the theater … and remembered that there was an ambulance stationed in the lobby, in case anyone was so scared they needed medical attention.”
The elder Mitchell was a longtime cinematographer and photographer, who after World War II and a 20-year career in the U.S. Army, started a small film production company in San Diego, and did video work for AFL and NFL Films, the San Diego Zoo and training films for assorted branches of the military.
“It is a matter of opinion, but this poster probably is the most beautiful of all of the styles,” Heritage Auctions Vintage Posters Director Grey Smith said, “and one of only two styles that pictures Bela Lugosi in realistic terms or a faithful rendering – the other is a photographic image.”
The new owner’s identify was not revealed, although a Heritage spokesman said it was “an anonymous U.S. bidder.” Kirk Hammett anyone?
Watch this Heritage Auctions video for more information about this iconic poster:
Classic monsters and mid-century pop culture go together like peanut butter and jelly. Many Monster Kids, like myself, have an abiding affection for all things Atomic Era, including classic surf music and Tiki culture, So the folks at Geek Tiki have come up with a perfectly logical combination of Universal Monsters tiki mugs!
The creative, colorful drinkware products combine the beloved Universal Monster characters with the unique stylization seen in traditional tiki culture.
Each ceramic Monsters Geeki Tikis® stand approximately 7” tall, is top-shelf dishwasher safe, microwaveable and boast a capacity of up to 20 ounces.
Collect them All!
I’m not sure if the Werewolf of London drank his Pina Colada out of one of these mugs at Trader Vics, but I sure drink my tropical cocktails from my Monster tiki mugs! I keep these prominently displayed but I’m not afraid to pull them off the shelf when the occasion calls for a Mai Tai!
Brought to you – On record for the first time with the help of the world’s first movie-monster magazine, FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND
So reads the back cover of this spoken word album released by Wonderland Records and Famous Monsters of Filmland in 1963. After learning that advertisers wouldn’t touch his magazine due to it’s “weird and inappropriate” subject matter, Jim Warren doubled down on his mail order business, Captain Company, to fund his growing publishing business. Always on the lookout for new products to peddle to us unwitting kids, Warren partnered with Wonderland Records, a children’s record label and subsidiary of Riverside Records, to record and release Famous Monsters Speak in 1963.
The cover art is uncredited but all of the famous monsters on the cover look more than a little bit like James Bama‘s iconic Aurora model kit box covers. Even the poses are similar. Intentional? Hmmm…. True to the Warren overhype tradition, we also get a cover appearance by the Wolf Man, Mummy and Creature though they are nowhere to be found on the record itself.
The LP features 2 spoken-word stories, written by Cherney Berg, a staple of spooky records of the 60s and 70s, including Scary Spooky Stories, Thrillers and Chillers and later the King Kong (Original Motion PictureClassic). His adaptations provided the soundtrack for many a Monster Kid childhood. This album featured only a single voice actor, former Bowery Boy Gabriel Dell.
The album’s little-seen back cover featured stills from the original Universal Studios Frankenstein and Dracula movies with humorous and satirical captions, as if lifted straight from the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine:
While this record is relatively easy to find, it can be fairly complex to determine which release is which due to the number of pressings through the years. Here is a detailed list of what to look for when buying a copy:
Shortly after Warren signed a deal to produce this record with Wonderland, the label’s founder, Bill Grauer, died. So in late 1963, Wonderland was acquired by A.A. Records. For that reason, The initial press of the vinyl makes no mention of Wonderland:
Also in 1963, London Records released the album in Canada and reads “Made in Canada” on vinyl. The Catalog # on this release is GAR-3
Wonderland Records credited on front cover, without mention of Golden Records.
Label credits to Wonderland Records and Golden Records on the front and back cover, but only A.A. Records on the labels and a mention in the lower right corner of the back cover.
1970 Canadian Re-release:
An A.A. Records Recording
Produced in Canada by Arc Sound Limited, Catalog # 836
Wonderland re-released the album in 1973. While the Catalog # remained the same: AR-3, there are some unique identifiers specifically the back cover sleeve which replaced the classic monsters movie stills and goofy quotes with a catalog of other kids record titles offered by Wonderland at the time:
In addition, this release includes the following etched wording on the vinyl:
In general, a high-grade copy of this record runs around $50, with less pristine copies anywhere between $15-$40.
In addition to the condition of the album sleeve and the vinyl itself, there are some ‘rare’ aspects of the first release that truly set the record apart from the rest of the pack and increase its value.
Printed Cellophane with Price:
The first press album sleeve originally had a nice cellophane overwrap with printing on it. First releases were priced at $.98 sold and soon increased to $1.98. You very rarely see the “printed” cellophane on them and it can really enhance the value of the copy when you do find one.
The picture above is of my personal collection copy of this record; notice the original cellophane with the $1.98 price printed on it.
Famous Monsters Magazine Offer:
Look again at the picture of the record from my collection and you’ll see Dracula’s legs are covered by a promotional offer for a copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland. This is another real differentiator from most copies of this record you’ll find. This paper order form its typically found taped onto the album cover, as mine is, and greatly enhances collectibility.
Monster Kid Memories
Of course, no article on Warren’s merchandising business is complete without the Captain Company ads that ran in the pages of Warren’s magazines:
The record label also promoted the record and ran the full-page ad below in comic books and other kid-oriented magazine titles to promote the records availability in record stores. Note from the ad copy below, the record was first released on April Fools Day, 1963:
I never owned this record as a child, but I clearly recall these ads working their spell on me. These ads were fairly unique in the pantheon of Captain Company; they marketed a quality product with minimal hyperbole. It seems that the more gimmicky the product, the greater the need to overstate its qualities.
Multiple copies in a range of prices and both white and orange sleeves are available on Amazon.
Discogs.com is a great social marketplace for record collectors and Ive had numerous successful purchases from this site. I found multiple copies of this LP listed currently; click here to visit Discogs.
Of course if you simply want to listen to this fun LP again, there are numerous options, including the YouTube video I embedded above in this article.
Purchase a MP3 copy of the entire album for $1.98 or on CD for $13.98 on Amazon
Film posters were designed to have short life spans. They were simply intended to promote upcoming and new releases while a film was in the theater. When the film left the theater, the posters were thrown away. Since scarcity and desirability are primary drivers of value, film posters of classic movies are now extremely valuable – particularly for a film as iconic as Universal’s Dracula starring Bela Lugosi.
The iconic nature of Todd Browning’s Dracula and the enduring legacy of Bela Lugosi’s performance make posters for this film some of the most coveted – and expensive – of all classic film posters. Unfortunately, only a few posters are known to exist today from the wide range of designs that originally existed.
Below, we’ve included artwork from the original 1931 Universal press book to give you a look at the original designs that are not known to exist any longer.
One Sheet Film Posters
This poster became the most valuable film poster ever sold when it was auctioned for $525,800 on November 17, 2017 by Heritage Auctions. Read the details here.
We previously published in-depth article on the Style F One Sheet in our Classic Movie Posters series. You can read it here:
The following One Sheet Styles are from the original 1931 Film Press Book but no known examples of these posters exist (if they do…Wow! What a find it will be!)
Dracula 1931 Three Sheet:
Dracula 1931 Six Sheet:
Dracula 1931 24 Sheet
Dracula 1931 Insert
Dracula 1931 Half Sheets:
Dracula 1931 Window Cards:
Dracula 1931 Herald:
Dracula 1931 Jumbo Lobby Cards:
Many of these incredible pieces of ephemera are, unfortunately, lost to history. And all of them are beyond he reach of most collectors. Regardless, we have the film and, through this digital gallery, we can all relish the awesome pop culture art of these iconic posters.
Dracula (Universal, 1931) One Sheet (27″ X 41″) Style F
It’s October and we’re getting back to basics with a focus on the most iconic of all classic monster movies, the films from Universal Studios. First up, Bela Lugosi as Dracula in the 1931 film classic.
Watch this video history of 1931’s Dracula from Heritage Aucitions:
From Heritage Auctions website:
This lovely Style F stone litho one sheet, with its stunning image of Count Dracula aboard the Vespa en route to London, is a real gem. In March 2009, Heritage sold another copy of this style, from the collection of Nicolas Cage, which realized more than $310,000. At the time, it was noted that the copy offered was one of only three known. The discovery of the poster in this auction brings that grand total to four known to exist in the entire world. The poster had a tear in the upper white border that extends into the image within the green field between Dracula’s raised fist and the moon behind him, with a tiny fleck of missing paper at the intersection of the border and the green field. There was tear from the left border into the “D” in “Dracula” and down into the black of the cape. There was two tears in the right border that extend just into the image and there were pinholes in the upper two corners of the artwork. The bottom white border was trimmed just below the black line which delineates the image from the border so no color image was lost and the entire image and all borders were intact other than the lower border. Through careful professional restoration all of these issues discussed were beautifully restored. The colors on the poster are as vibrant as the day it was printed and have not been altered at all. Few posters combine the high degrees of rarity, desirability, and sheer artistic beauty like this scarce showpiece.
The poster described in the video, only the fourth Style F poster from the film ever uncovered, sold at auction in 2012 for $143,400. This poster was part of The Berwick Discovery of Lost Movie Posters – a trove of 33 classic and incredibly rare posters dating back as far as 1930 – many examples of which were thought to be lost for all time, realized $503,035 total,. The Berwick posters came out of an attic and were found in a small country auction in Berwick, PA, in several lots stuck together with wallpaper paste, which had preserved them for more than eight decades.
In 2009, a Style F one sheet owned by the actor Nicolas Cage went for $310,700 when the actor sold off his collection.
Top 10 Most Valuable Monster Movie Props & Costumes Ever Sold at Auction
We love our movie monsters and we love collecting them in al their forms. From creatures from outer space to beasts from the ocean depths, movie makers have spent decades creating monsters to keep us on the edge of our seats.
Here we take a look at ten of the most fearsome – and valuable – screen monsters to ever cross the auction block.
10) Brain Gremlin Puppet
Joe Dante followed his hit 1984 horror comedy Gremlins with an anarchistic sequel featuring numerous parodies, slapstick, Chuck Jones animation and fourth-wall breaking humour. A screen-used animatronic puppet for the ‘Brain’ gremlin – given intelligence by a super-potion and voiced by Tony Randall – sold at Profiles in History in 2008 for $13,000. (Image: Profiles in History)
Despite featuring a host of less-than-scary spooks such as Slimer and the Marshmallow Man, Ghostbusters does feature two truly memorable monsters – the terror dogs. A stop-motion puppet, used as the demon alter-ego for Sigourney Weaver (“The nice lady who paid us in advance before she became a dog”) sold at profiles in History in 2008 for $13,000. (Image: Profiles in History)
8) Bruce the Shark Jaws
Despite its status as a cinema classic, Jaws almost never made it to the screen. During production the mechanical sharks failed to work, or looked ridiculous, hugely delaying the shoot to the point the studio almost pulled the plug. Spielberg was forced to show the shark – nicknamed Bruce by the crew – as little as possible, which actually improved the film. An original 4ft prop shark used for close-up scenes sold for £16,675 at Christie’s in 1996. (Image: Christie’s)
Despite featuring some of the worst English accents in cinema history, Bram Stoker’s Dracula also provides one of the most intense performances as Gary Oldman inhabits the Count in Oscar-winning effects make-up. One of the most terrifying scenes features Dracula transformed into a gigantic bat, and the original suit and mask worn during the scene brought $30,000 at Profiles in History in 2011. (Image: Profiles in History)
Man-in-a-suit monsters don’t come much more famous than the Creature from the Black Lagoon, who first appeared on the silver screen in 1954. He resurfaced again in 1955, in Revenge of the Creature, in which he fell in love with Lori Nelson, although their relationship ended in a hail of bullets. The original screen-worn mask from the film sold for $70,000 at Profiles in History in 2009. (Image: Profiles in History)
Stan Winston created the now-iconic design for the Predator whilst on a plane ride with director James Cameron, after Cameron commented he’d like to see a creature with mandibles. The 1986 film went on to spawn a franchise, starting with Predator II in 1990, and a full screen-worn mask and suit from the sequel brought $80,000 at Profiles in History in 2010.(Image: Profiles in History)
4) Starship Troopers Warrior Bug Puppet
Paul Verhoeven’s satirical sci-fi classic features a wide range of monsters in the shape of gigantic alien bugs. Created using a mix of CGI and practical effects, the film earned an effects Oscar nomination in 1998 but was defeated by the all-conquering Titanic. A 72” tall screen-used warrior bug puppet sold at Profiles in History in 2012 for $85,000. (Image: Profiles in History)
3) Jurassic Park T-Rex Head
Spielberg’s Jurassic Park may have featured some of the greatest CGI ever seen on film, but it also included practical dinosaurs made by effects maestro Stan Winston – for which he won an Oscar in 1994. An enormous, life-sized animatronic T-Rex head from the film sold for $110,000 at Profiles in History in 2007. (Image: Profiles in History)
2) Xenomorph Alien Suit
One of the most famous movie monsters in cinema history, the creature from Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic was created by Swiss artist H.R Giger who also helped design the look of the film. Giger won an Oscar for his work, and the Xenomorph went on to become a true icon of horror. The original screen-worn suit from the film sold at Profiles in History in 2007 for $110,000. (Image: Profiles in History)
1) King Kong Armature
The most famous movie monster of them all, King Kong captured the imagination of movie goers when he roared to life in 1933. The film featured state-of-the-art stop-motion effects by Willis O’Brien, with three Kong models built from mechanical frames, foam and rabbit fur. One of the original 22” armature skeletons – used during the climactic scene on top of the Empire State Building – sold at Christie’s in 2009 for a record £121,500. (Image: Christie’s) Another armature skeleton resides in the monstrous collection of Bob Burns
Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (Hammer; 1968) 27″x 41″ One-Sheet
This week’s entry in our Classic Movie Posters Gallery, we pay tribute to Christopher Lee in one of his many iconic roles, Count Dracula. I admit, my original intent was to feature a classic movie poster with Mr. Lee actually on it but I was, shall we say, attracted to this unique poster from the 1968 Hammer Film.
The combination of cheeky humor and magnetic sexuality is perfectly aligned with where Hammer‘s films were at this time. The black and white photograph with the bright pink band aids and the word (Obviously) beneath the film title aren’t consistent with how dark this horror movie is, but fit right into a cynical period in our culture.
When you look at other posters of the period, this one truly stands out…and not just for the obvious reasons. It’s singular image differentiates it at a time when posters were still usually montage of characters and scenes from the movie. And, yes, its use of skin was also quite unique for its time. I can picture it on a theater marquee causing quite a stir alongside the other more traditionally style posters of the time.
Christopher Lee added an animalistic sensuality to his performance of Dracula and Hammer certainly pushed boundaries in their movies, combining horror and sex in a way not seen in mainstream movies before.
This poster is highly collectible but not terribly expensive. A F/VF 7.0 unrestored copy sold last year on Heritage Auctions for $143. Current listings on eBay start at $249 for VF copy. Not sure I could convince my wife to let me hang this one in our family room, though. At least, not until our son has gotten through puberty…
Welcome to my new series focused on collecting vintage movie posters. Film posters are one of the most interesting collectible category to me personally as they are truly works of pop art and, in many cases, better than the films themselves!
Every week, I’ll feature a classic movie poster from a vintage horror, retro science fiction or classic fantasy movie. You’ll see the most iconic posters as well as the forgotten and bizarre from throughout the history of movies.
So without further ado, I give you Dracula’s Daughter (click to image enlarge)
Dracula’s Daughter (Realart, R-1949). One Sheet (27″ X 41″).
Gloria Holden “Gives you that weird feeling,” as she peers out hungrily from behind the blood and bat laden title on this fabulous one sheet. This is the one sheet for the 1949 re-release of this classic picture and it has an over-the-top pop art sensibility that appeals to the comic book fan in me. Plus, what’s not to love about the tag line, “She gives you that Weird Feeling.” I can just imagine the 13 year boys in 1949 seeing this poster and having all kind of weird feelings, which is pretty much the only kind of feelings 13 year olds have.
Dracula’s Daughter was released this week in 1936 and is a direct sequel to Browning’s Dracula. The success of Bride of Frankenstein led Universal to green light this sequel and, while not as well known as other classic monster equals, is a favorite of mine.
Dracula is clearly one of the Big 5 famous monsters and considered the first of Universal Studio’s classic monster movies. Any classic monster collector has his or her share of Count Dracula merchandise and the Bela Lugosi vs Christopher Lee conversation never gets old.
But since today is St Patrick’s Day and I’m of Irish descent, we’re continuing the conversation of Dracula as an Irish export since his modern Count Dracula was created by Irish write, Bram Stoker. While many Dracula collectors focus on the vampire himself or the actors who have played the role over the years, what about collecting Bram Stoker? Turns out, this is not an inexpensive option, but fascinating in it’s own right. Dracula is one of the most famous books ever published, and it’s almost 120 years old. Collecting antique books has never been the most affordable of hobbies and is really more like investing than collecting. Stanley Gibbons, a London collectibles company, offered up a very rare First Edition of Dracula by Bram Stoker for a mere $184,000 in late 2014. Yep, you read that right.
Turns out this First Edition was high-grade, but more-importantly, it was signed by the author:
Pretty cool, but not going to be in my collection anytime soon.
I searched eBay in the Books: Antiquarian and Collectible category and turned up these current auctions of various first editions of Dracula these current auctions of various first editions of Dracula in the — variety of conditions and a wide spectrum of publishers to choose from, but all in all more affordable than the signed edition:
Of course, book collecting isn’t the most obvious category for collectors of classic monster merchandise — if you haven’t read Dracula by Bram Stoker, you owe it to yourself to do so — Dracula is beloved by Monster Kids of every age and the character continues to reverberate through pop culture. Just follow this link to download Bram Stoker’s Dracula to your Kindle and and settle in for a classic monster read by a great Irishman – sounds like a good St Paddy’s Day to this Irishman!
St Patrick’s Day Isn’t the Most Obvious Classic Monster Holiday
1906 Portrait of Bram Stoker, author of Dracula,
While Ireland and Halloween go hand-in-hand with the modern holiday’s roots tracing back to the ancient Celts harvest festival, Samhain, the connections to the patron saint of Ireland are more tenuous. Enter Abraham ‘Bram’ Stoker; Irishman and author of Dracula, one of the most famous books ever published and, arguably, the most famous of all monsters.
Stoker was born in Dublin in 1847 and it is said that he grew up on a steady diet of his Mother’s stories of the supernatural. Ireland has a long history of fantastical and mystical creatures from leprechauns and banshees to it’s own vampire, the DeargDue. The Celts, whose traditions never disappeared from Irish culture, had hundreds of gods and an equal number of demons and monsters. Stoker grew up hearing these stories and they undoubtedly influenced his fascination for the macabre.
Dracula was published in May 1897 and, although it was critically well-received, it was not a bestseller. In fact, it wasn’t until after Stoker’s death in 1912 that his book would achieve commercial success. Stoker wrote a total of 18 books, including Lair of the White Worm, but it is his haunting tale of the vampire that has given him lasting fame.
For more about Bram Stoker, watch this video from Biography Channel (click to watch full screen)):
It’s fair to say that fans of classic monsters owe a debt of gratitude to Bram Stoker. So, while tipping a pint at the pub today in celebration of all things Irish, raise a pint to Bram Stoker and that famous monster of his, Count Dracula.