Signed Film Director and Actor Photographs

Value (2011) | $30,000 Auction$40,000 Auction
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GUEST:
Well, this is a collection of autographed pictures of movie directors that I did between 1974 and 1981 when I was in grad school at the University of Georgia. I was very interested in the movies, and I thought the directors are the most important person in the movies, to me. And so I wrote Fritz Lang down here, and that picture basically set me on fire.

APPRAISER:
(laughs)

GUEST:
Because he wrote to me from Beverly Hills, California, and dated it. And after that, I just began to write them, one after another.

APPRAISER:
So the thrill of the fact that this famous director who did Metropolis, one of these groundbreaking films, actually responded to you.

GUEST:
Absolutely, and sent me this picture and it says, "This is the way I looked when I made the movie M that you liked so well." I was hooked after that, and I just slowly worked my way through every director that was working in the United States that had had one or two feature films, and that's how I got up to 428 of them.

APPRAISER:
These are binders.

GUEST:
These are all bound.

APPRAISER:
More directors that we don't see out here because your collection is vast.

GUEST:
In these five binders, there are 428 directors.

APPRAISER:
I also notice that you have Charlie Chaplin over there towards you right here. You also have Erich von Stroheim.

GUEST:
Unfortunately, he was deceased when I began this project, so I bought an autographed picture of von Stroheim.

APPRAISER:
So how many of the other star photos do you have?

GUEST:
I have 60 famous actors of the late silent and early sound era and up into the '70s.

APPRAISER:
So it's an encyclopedic collection of 488 total pieces.

GUEST:
That's correct.

APPRAISER:
And what I love about your story is there's a great tradition here, and exactly that thrill you described of kind of lighting a fire inside you to keep doing it is really what started the entire autograph collecting, Hollywood star hobby. After talkies, and stars became these matinee idols, it was traditionally young girls who would send off for their heartthrob and ask for a photo.

GUEST:
My sister did that with James Dean.

APPRAISER:
And that's exactly it. There was such a huge demand for stars' autographs, that they actually started producing those portraits that had facsimile autographs written right into the negative. And so most of the things that you see now of the stars are secretarial. What's great about the directors? You're the only person I've ever heard of who decided to target a new niche market that no one else was really collecting, and you decided to go after the directors, who no.. Most people were focused on the stars that were in front of the camera.

GUEST:
I had to quit in 1981, because I had basically collected myself out of a hobby.

APPRAISER:
If we start talking values, Alfred Hitchcock, a signed photographs from him auctions anywhere between $600 and $800. A signed Charlie Chaplin, auction value, again, between $600 and $800. A Fellini-signed photograph, auction value between $100 to $150. Erich von Stroheim, if it were on the photo here-- we have actually a cut sheet of paper-- so if it were on the photo, it would be a bit more. He's probably between $200 to $300 at auction. And then we have Andy Warhol down here, $400 to $600. We have Fritz Lang over here, $400 to $600. So, taking in the scope of your collection, it’s kind of mind-boggling. I think a very conservative auction estimate for the whole collection would be at least $30,000 to $40,000.

GUEST:
Well, that's great. The fruits of a misspent youth... (Laughs)

APPRAISER:
I didn't say it was misspent. I think you were using your time very wisely. It's paid off.

GUEST:
Well, what should I insure a collection like this for?

APPRAISER:
Insurance values are often more than an auction estimate. If you wanted to do an insurance appraisal, you’d have to really parse it out and put values on every single piece.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
The Collector's Lab
Los Angeles, CA
Appraised value (2011)
$30,000 Auction$40,000 Auction
Event
Atlanta, GA (August 06, 2011)
Period
20th Century
Material
Paper

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