The Heirloom Vintage Dracula Picture That Could Be Yours
The other day I was in an antique/thrift store looking for a vintage light fixture when I came across this picture.
I thought it looked old and cool and might be worth something. So I bought it and started researching. I was ecstatic to find that a similar image sold at auction for $45,000 last month. Woo! Would I be one of those people on Antique’s Road Show whose retirement was earned off a $5 thrift store purchase??!
Long story short, this picture isn’t what I thought it was. Know how I felt when I found that out? Relieved. Physically relieved, like Dracula had just removed his fangs from my neck. Not sure why, but I think it was the pressure: if a thing is something, something “valuable,” then it becomes an obligation. Restore? Conserve? Insure? Keep? Sell? How? Auction? Private? Who to trust? How much? On and on.
The joy of nothingness and the burden of wealth are conversations for another day.
For now, I’ve decided to sell this picture on ebay >here to hopefully recoup my investment.
For your convenience, I’m publishing the listing here too (enhanced version) so that you might enjoy the opportunity to be next in the noble provenance line. The auction just started so, yay for you, the current bid is still the starting bid of $6.32. Good luck!
PS The first person to correctly answer the riddle at the end of the listing (below in Comments) wins a Toad Love™ cup! Happy spring!
11″ x 14″ 1931 Dracula Movie Picture, Terrible Condition
This is most likely a newspaper ad for the 1931 Dracula Vampire Thriller film.
It’s been lovingly glued to cardboard (painted blue) and vigorously sprayed with varnish in indiscriminate swirly patterns of varying thicknesses.
After several days of intense research and consultation, it is my unprofessional opinion that this is NOT a title lobby card. I base this authentication on the following criteria:
1. It appears to be newsprint
2. It appears to have been cut with bluntish scissors
3. Professional assessment:
- “Laura, I’m sorry but don’t feel we will be able to assist with this as the printing is just not sharp enough, in my opinion, to be an authentic lobby card.” — Heritage Auctions
- “[silence]” –Christy’s Auction House
So, moving forward.
Overall Grade: D+
As stated, this picture is in terrible condition. The D+ rating has been given because it has every conceivable type of damage possible to printed media EXCEPT the following:
- pet urine/feces*
- fire damage
- teeth marks
- water damage
- tire marks
- food/saliva stains (evidence of licking)*
In other words, when you place the winning bid for this item, you will be purchasing a picture with approximately seventeen (17) pin holes; forty-two (42) wrinkles; three (3) tiny tears; five (5) eddies; fading; yellowing; water (or urine) stains; cardboard backing (adhered); missing bits (upper left); handwriting (bottom); raggedy edges.
But let’s not dwell on the negative.
What You Will Be Purchasing
In addition to the Dracula picture, check out the “surprise” I found on the “verso” of this item.
That’s right, side-by-side Daisy Rifle and Tarzan ads!
And how about the mysterious hand-writing?
Know what I think? I think this was written by the original graphic artist, overwhelmed by a violence of achievement at seeing his/her first-ever printed newspaper ad. He was inspired to clip it, touch it up
and do it all over again. Sixty-six times. As Christmas gifts for his friends & family. Sixty-six of them.
Each ad was numbered and dated by the artist (adding value) because in the 1930s color newspaper ads, especially large unfolded ones, were rare and collectible. Neither he nor Debby Cloud should be blamed for the fact that at some point prior to 2015, she (Debby) chose to sloppily affix her gift to cardboard and varnish the hell out of it, intending to preserve it for all eternity. Essentially ruining it.
But ruin is a relative term.
In my opinion, considerable value has been added to this item by the artist, Debby, and me. Because now it’s not just a damaged picture, it’s a story. One that you will think about every time you see it hanging on your wall. One that might even bring you joy.
How much is that worth?
- Comes with free, authenticated print version of this listing
- Recommended framing: Sandwich between two pieces of glass so it’s “reversible”
- Shipped flat, in plastic, nestled between four (4) sturdy pieces of cardboard via insured USPS Parcel Post (better chance of getting lost)
- US shipping only unless you can answer this riddle and then I’ll consider shipping outside US (for actual cost): “What do vampires cross the sea in?”
If no one buys this, Laura, you still will have added so much value to the Universe (and dull old EBay) with your offering and the extremely honest description.
By the way, this is a microcosm of what happens when you are the executor of an estate that requires 13 years to remove every little thing that was so precious to its owners. I especially appreciate your tale of relief when you found it was almost worthless. I have learned that anything is worth what someone is willing to pay, and sometimes, that means you have to pay them to take it away!
Maggi, what a thoughtful comment, thank you. And you are absolutely right about something being worth only what someone else is willing to pay. The whole idea of collectability based on rarity, while understandable (sort of) for art, antiques, memorabilia, etc, is also what’s driving so many animals to extinction. I read something so depressing the other day — that many (evil) collectors of wildlife bits and pieces (tusks, horns, etc) are actually hoping for extinction… because then their precious items become “priceless.” The sick side of collecting, for sure.
We have a winner! Thanks for reading, John!
I love your posts — they are a great “break” during my work day. The riddle was a funny one — sort of those kinds you see on a Laffy Taffy wrapper as a kid.
Thank you John! And be honest — did you google it for the answer or did you think it up yourself?
I hope these sell really well, so you can use the profits to hire a shopping companion who will forcibly restrain you from entering thrift shops.
Just the other day, I was sondering how you were doing. Glad to see all is hilariously well!
O-M-yyyyyy, is that you, Guap??? I thought you’d died and gone to proverbial surfer heaven, that you’d finally become the guy in your avatar?! Or maybe you already are…
SO cool that you stopped by and dispensed your typically sage advice. Thanks! But one correction: there is only ONE of these items (thus, the irreplacability=high value). And you’re right, even $20 shouldn’t be squandered on something of such dubious value. Speaking of which, how is your day job? Where is your blog? How about TMWGITU? See, you have to write a new post just to answer all my questions… 🙂
I love it! This lil’ piece of hideous memorabilia is meant for me. I’m gonna get in on the bidding wars. I wonder if “Debbie” still lives or if she was eaten already?
Not sure about the being eaten question, but get on that bidding! Thanks!
Actually, in full disclosure, I texted a friend with young kids.
Well, that was more challenging and interactive than googling, so good for you. I’ll FB you to arrange a time for you to pick up your prize 🙂
Hi Laura, Love your story!. Your ebay listing, framed, would make a wonderful gift on it’s own 🙂 Too bad “Debby” ruined the Tarzan comic book cover by gluing it to the back, but isn’t it wonderful that by doing so, she created provenence for your “treasure”! A journey to the past: stamps were 3 cents back then, according to the rifle ad, so that has to be from the 1950’s.
Thanks Tina, always so nice to see you here. And that’s great that you could place the 3c stamp — I didn’t know how far back that was! I guess that means Debby hung onto her treasure for 20 yrs or so until she could stand it no longer, then took the glue plunge. 🙂 xx
Funny Laura! Oh how I love to go to thrift and antique stores. I hope Dracula arrives safely. The person who wins him could frame it, cardboard and all, in a funky avant garde frame as a statement piece. I don’t think it’d be wise to wake up to this but it’d be a fine conversation piece in the lounge, don’t cha think?
Now my day is made, I will not be required to do any further reading to enjoy the next 24 hours. As the day moves along I will laugh at odd moments remembering a line or word grouping from this post. Thanks Laura…I just love your writing.
Thank you so much, Ginger! Writing is certainly more fun when I know there are appreciative readers out there. I hope the Dracula picture interrupts your sleep as much as my words are infiltrating your waking hours. ❤ L
Honestly Laura, your hilarious description makes that fake lobby card priceless. Priceless! Up that opening bid to $1M and watch the the bids rain down! xoxo
Stacie! How nice of you to stop by and offer your very gracious comment 🙂 Was just thinking about you the other day…. Thanks for $1M vote of confidence for my treasure! I should go see if anyone besides my mother has actually bid…. xxxL