Leonard Maltin opens collection to vintage movie poster auction

DALLAS – Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin is offering 42 selections from his private collection of vintage movie posters, including a rare one sheet from the 1938 Three Stooges short Tassels in the Air (estimate $20,000+), in Heritage Auctions’ Nov. 29-30 Vintage Movie Poster Signature ® Auction. The collection is a unique example of Hollywood history, some of which hasn’t been available for purchase in decades.

Tassels in the Air (Columbia, 1938). One Sheet (27″ X 41″). Estimate: $20,000 and up. From the Leonard and Alice Maltin Collection. Photo courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries.

The collection includes a number of desirable finds such as a Three Stooges one sheet for the 1941 short In the Sweet Pie and Pie (estimate $10,000+), a massive three sheet poster from Walt Disney’s 1941 classic Dumbo (estimate $5,000+), and a set of eight lobby cards for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, ($3,000+).

Also available are posters for some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, such as a Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, (estimate $1,800+), Funny Face, starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire (estimate $400+) and the 1933 film Broadway to Hollywood, depicting a who’s who roster of Depression-era celebrities, (estimate $2,000+).

Maltin’s collection is as diverse and encompassing as is his encyclopedic knowledge of the film industry. However, Maltin said he didn’t start out to collect posters; he bought his first movie still at the tender age of 12, in part because they were so affordable.

“Prices then ranged from 25 to 75 cents apiece,” said Maltin, whose passion for film has led to dozens of books, 30 years of syndicated movie reviews and made him a pop culture icon in his own right.

“Posters were something of an afterthought and I didn’t go after the A-list movies because I was so wrapped up in animated cartoons and comedy shorts, which I wrote about in some of my earliest published articles and books. I never dreamt that cheaply produced one sheets for the Three Stooges comedies would turn out to be worth more than images for many feature films of the same period!”

Donald Applecore (RKO, 1952). One Sheet (27″ X 41″). From the Leonard and Alice Maltin Collection. Photo courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries.

A number of posters for animated shorts harken back to Maltin’s early scholarly work. One such poster, advertising Mutt and Jeff in Occultism, a 1918 theater short (estimate $2,000+), appears for the first time in a Heritage auction. Other examples include two posters for classic Donald Duck shorts: Don’s Fountain of Youth from 1953 (estimate $1,400+) and Donald Applecore from 1952 ($1,400+).

A colorful 1939 poster for the comedy feature Charlie McCarthy, Detective (estimate $700+) depicts ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his two famous wooden dummies Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd.

Maltin said the Nov. 29-30 auction features one of the greatest finds of his collecting career. It was his wife, Alice, who found the gems years ago while shopping at a Massachusetts antiques show.

“Finding that complete set of lobby cards for Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with their original mailing envelope, was a milestone for my wife and me as collectors,” he said. “We were at an antique show on an open field in Massachusetts many years ago when she called me over, rather insistently, and I tried not to let my jaw hit the floor when I saw what she had discovered.”

Heritage Auctions is fthe largest auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s third largest, with annual sales of more than $800 million. For more information about Heritage Auctions, visit HA.com.

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