Thurston the Magician Lobby Cards, ca. 1931
These posters were taken from the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster County in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. My father-in-law was a magician, and he collected everything magic. A whole house was full of magic, doves lived in the basement and these were some of the pieces that he had that he thought were very valuable.
These are lobby cards for a performance that Thurston did in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. And the images, to people who collect magic, are going to be very familiar because these were both posters that were produced in a much larger format--about 27 inches wide by 41 inches high. So maybe two and a half or three times this size. And the images were used to promote his shows around the country. Now, the regular posters that were larger didn't have the strip on the top that gave information about the actual performances. They were more generic in that they just showed Thurston. The one closest to you, magicians tried to portray to the ticket-buying public that they were capable of communing with the black arts. And so it was a very commonly seen theme or meme to have little imps, little devils whispering into the ear of the magician--a sort of an arcane explanation for the tricks that he could do. Then on the poster closer to me, you actually have an exhibition of one of Thurston's levitating tricks. "She floats all over the stage." So, one of the big mysteries about these kind of magic posters is that they're very hard to date. Because the performer would have printed thousands of copies that were then used to be overprinted by the local theaters. Even with the full-size copies, we don't know the exact date. So when these have come up for sale at auctions, they're dated as circa 1935. But I did a little detective work, and using a sort of a reverse historic calendar, I took a look to find out what year April 4th fell on a Saturday. April 4th fell on a Saturday in both 1925 and 1931. Now, 1925 is too early for these posters, so we can now accurately date these to 1931. Now, just to put a fine point on it, it's possible they were printed earlier in the thousands and used in 1931. So now the question is, what are they worth?
Very few of these lobby cards have come up for auction. And when they do, they tend to bring between $500 and $750 each.
So combined I'd say it's about $1,000 to $1,500.
And I will point out that the condition on these isn't that good. But I feel that they're rare enough that collectors can't be that picky about condition in this case because there's not a lot of other ones to choose from.
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