Saturday, July 6, 2013


The Frankenstein monster made famous by the makeup genius of Jack Pierce and the acting of Boris Karloff has left an indelible image in screen history and pop culture. There have been hundreds of movies and uncountable visual interpretations of the monster since then, but the image filmgoers saw in 1931 is the one that is easily the most recognizable and enduring.

Consequently, collectors of film history and monster memorabilia have been snatching up bits of Universal's FRANKENSTEIN for years. From posters to still to lobby cards and more, material from this particular film has been coveted by many. Assembled here are examples of the various items that have made their way to the auction block in recent years, most notably a rare insert expected to sell for up to $100,000 in an upcoming sale at Heritage Auctions.

Frankenstein (Universal, 1931). Insert (14" X 36").
"At last this great poster has surfaced! After 82 years of lying dormant, the Monster has finally arrived in the form of this amazing and stunning insert. For years, collectors have been searching for the lost poster sizes on this immortal and legendary horror classic but to date, only a few one sheets, a single six sheet, a partial half sheet and lobby cards have surfaced! This is the only confirmed insert poster for the film. And while Frankenstein was not the first horror film from Universal, it is the most famous. The studio had produced a number of horror related films based on important novels, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), The Phantom of the Opera (1925), and Dracula (1931), and with the success of each film, the studio looked for additional properties they could adapt for the screen. The stage play of Frankenstein by Peggy Webling was quickly secured and the film went into production. James Whale was given the directorial duties and Boris Karloff the pivotal role of the Monster. The rest as they say, is the stuff of legend, as the film went on to become an international sensation and is still regarded as the most important film in the annals of Universal horror. The borders on this poster had been trimmed at one time. However, the trimming was just up to the edge of the art. In the top edge there was a slight trim just into the upper yellow band. The borders were replaced as was a small chip out of the upper left corner that just went into the dark brown background and the edge of the blue band. The poster also had a few very small tears. There was one that extended into the "F" of the title, as well as three additional tiny tears into the brown background on the left side. The poster was never folded. However, it does have a slight crease that runs horizontally through Dwight Frye and Edward Van Sloan's credits. There are two other minor horizontal creases, both in the Monster's head. There was a bit of color touchup to some stress lines in the lower blue band by Universal's credit. There was some very minor color correction done to the Monster's portrait, as there appears to have been some slight fading. Yet it is extremely hard to accurately determine, due to this being the only known example. There has been some slight bit of color retouch done to the lower areas of the poster as well. And although this is the only confirmed insert known to exist, there are two known similar Australian daybills, both done in a different layout and color. This extreme rarity may never come to market again so seize this chance to acquire this while you can. Rolled, Fine+. Estimate: $50,000 - $100,000."

 Frankenstein (Universal, 1931). Lobby Card (11" X 14").
"The famous scene in which Frankenstein's monster (Boris Karloff) confronts his creator's bride-to-be (Mae Clarke) is depicted in this magnificent and sought after lobby card from one of the most recognized horror films in motion picture history. Boris Karloff would became an international star because of his portrayal of the monster, and the film, along with Tod Browning's Dracula, would help put Universal back on the financial track in 1931. Since then, the picture, based on the story by Mary Shelley, has become an integral part of popular culture, as even younger generations of film viewers are familiar with Karloff as the horrific monster. This gorgeous lobby card has been restored to address a pinhole in each corner, a small tear in the right border, a tear in the left border that extended into the image, some creasing, and slight fading to the colors. The terrific restoration has the lobby card looking terrific and displaying very well. Collectors will not want to miss out on this, as original cards featuring the monster are incredibly rare and highly sought after. Very Good+. Estimate: $5,000 - $10,000."

Frankenstein (Universal, 1931). Herald (8.5" X 17").
"It's always a thrill when anything turns up from this legendary picture, and this prized herald will certainly generate buzz amongst collectors. The piece is simply dynamite, a miniature poster in its own right! The Monster in Mary Shelley's novel seems to have been made for then-unknown actor Boris Karloff, who emphatically made the part his own. To this day, eight decades after the film was released, Karloff's image is recognized around the world. For its age, the piece is very well preserved. It was folded vertically, has edge wear with small tears, pinholes in the bottom corners, light creasing and one very small stain on the back spine. Fine/Very Fine. Estimate: $1,000 - $2,000."

Frankenstein (Universal, 1931). Eastman Kodak Nitrate Negatives (2) (8" X 10").
"Universal would follow their hit, Dracula, with this frightening tale, based on Mary Shelley's chilling novel. Colin Clive stars as Dr. Henry Frankenstein, a scientist who brings a frightening monster (Boris Karloff) to life. Clive's magnificent delivery of the famous line, "It's alive! It's alive!" is easily his most memorable, and is still quoted today. Both of these original Eastman Kodak nitrate negatives feature Clive as the title character. It has been reported that these negatives were once owned by Frankenstein director, James Whale. The negatives show only minor surface scratches. Very Fine+. Estimate: $600 - $1,200."

Frankenstein/Dracula Combo (Realart, R-1951). Uncut Pressbook (4 Pages, 11" X 17"). Horror.
Starring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan. Directed by James Whale and Tod Browning. An unrestored pressbook with bright color and a clean overall appearance. It has been light creased horizontally and vertically and may have general signs of use, such as light edge and fold wear or very minor tears. Please see full-color, enlargeable image below for more details. Very Fine. Sold for $65.00.

Frankenstein (Universal, R-1957). Neues Film-Programm, Austrian Program (4 Pages, 6.5" X 9.5"). Horror. Starring Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Dwight Frye, and Edward Van Sloan. Directed by James Whale. An unrestored program with a clean overall appearance. It may have general signs of use, such as slight edge wear, fold wear, pinholes, or very minor tears. There is a small scratch on the text of the third page. Please see full-color, enlargeable image below for more details. Very Fine.Sold for $262.90.

Movie stills and lobby cards. 

Stills from 1931 production.

Lobby cards from 1938 re-issue.

Lobby cards from 1951 re-issue.

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