From Raging Bull to Breaking Away a great number of motion pictures since the silent era have been about sports. Further, many sports stars have appeared in movies, some even making multiple appearances, including Babe Ruth, Jim Brown, Sonja Henie and Johnny Weismuller.
This column looks at some of the standard types of ephemera from movies, whether it’s The Pride of the Yankees, Rocky or Casablanca.
Needless to say, the standard movie and most visually commanding movie memorabilia are the movie posters used to promote and advertise the movies. Rare movie posters can be the centerpieces of even the most advanced collection. The following are the standard types of movie posters:
One sheet poster (27×41 inches for older movies, 27 x 40 inches for modern ones) — This is the standard and most collected type of posters. Originally, posters were this size. Early posters were folded and will have fold lines, while starting about 1980 studios shipped photos rolled and these will have no fold lines. First produced in the late 1980s, doubled sided posters allow light to shine throw allowing them to be displayed in a light box.
Three sheet poster: 41 x 81 inches: This is three 27 x 41 inches posters posted side by side.
Half sheet posters (22×28 inches) These were movie posters displayed behind the concession stand inside the theater.
Insert posters (14 x 22 inches): These were displayed on sandwich boards outside the theater.
Related theater display pieces
Lobby Cards: 11 x 14 inches, though 8×10 inches in the early days. On card stock, these usually were made in sets of eight and showed scenes from the movie, with title and credits at the bottoms. These are like mini movie posters and were displayed throughout the theater lobby.
Window cards: These were ad posters displayed around town, promoting both the movie and the theater showing it. They are usually 14 x 22 inches, but can be found larger and smaller.
Still photos: Usually 8×10 inches though sometimes 11×14 inches, still photographs showed still images from the movie, along with shots of the actors and sometimes behind the scene scenes. A popular and often easy to obtain area of sports movie memorabilia, they often have the movie title and credits along an edge. They were displayed throughout the theater and also sent to newspapers and magazines as press photos for use in movie coverage and reviews.
Studio portrait photographs (usually 11×14 or 8×10 inches). Showing glamorous poses of stars, these were photographed by often famous photographers hired by the movie studios. The backs will often have the studio’s stamp and the stamp of the photographer. Famous and highly sought after portait photographers include George Hurrell, Clarence Sinclair, Eugene Richee, Clarence Sincair Bull, Ruth Harriet Louise and Freulich, Roman. Top examples can fetch good money and are considered works of art.
Re-releases: Many big movies, such as Gone With the Wind, The Godfather and Casablanca were re-relased in theaters in later years and new versions of the posters, cards and stills were made. These are often identified by a print or photograph expert, but often also have the modern date clearly on the item.
Postcards: Postcards have long been popularly collected and there are a wide variety of postcards, both ink printed and real photo, of movies and movie photos. As movies were a world-wide phenomenon, movie postcards can be found from all over the world, even Eastern Europe.
Fan photos: Photographs with faux signatures were sent to fans who requested them. These sometimes come with the original mailing envelope.
News photos: Photos by newspapers and news services including United Press, Associated Press and ACME can be regularly found. They will usually have the source’s stamp and/or paper caption tag on back. Different from publicity photos, these images were typically captured by photographers working for wire services, magazines or local newspapers.
Other: There are countless other types of ephemera to be found, including advertising signs, matchbook covers, trading cards, magazine and more.