Movie Lobby Cards, ca. 1934
These scrapbooks were given to me by an elderly aunt. She never threw anything away and collected lots and lots of things and I think I inherited some of those characteristics from her. So she felt that they would be safe and in good hands if she gave them to me.
Now, you brought four books. When you first put these down on my table, I opened it up and judging by this front page, I felt this was what's called a studio yearbook. Every movie studio would put out a yearbook at the beginning of the year, telling all the theater owners what films were coming up and they would put in a sample ad and information. Then I flipped the page and of course there it was. There's the first film that they were going to release that year, the information about it. But then when I flipped the page again, I found this collection of reviews from motion picture trade papers. Somebody obviously took these pages and pasted in reviews. A film annual like this is not tremendously valuable unless there's a famous film in it. Then we come to the 20th Century book. This is 1934 and 20th Century was one of the big presentations in 1934. And I turn the page and I see that someone here has not only pasted something in that wasn't there before, they've pasted in a part of a giant lobby card, so my interest was piqued. And here's the usual clippings as in the other book, which is not very financially rewarding. And then we come to “It Happened One Night,” which was another big film of 1934. As a matter of fact, it won more Academy Awards that year than any film had won up to that point. And what somebody had pasted in here were the lobby cards for “It Happened One Night.” Now, these were 11x14 cards that used to come in a set of eight. They were put in the lobby of the movie theater in order to tell you what was coming the next week. The problem is that somebody has trimmed these lobby cards and reduced their value significantly. This particular lobby card I had at an auction two years ago and it sold for $1,100 on its own. In this condition, it would only sell for a few hundred dollars. But then I came to this and these are called jumbo lobby cards. They're very unusual. They were only made for a brief period in the 1930s and none are known to exist from “It Happened One Night.”
(chuckles) APPAISER: And you have...six of them. They came in sets of eight, also, so there's two missing. But that really doesn't make any difference because jumbo lobby cards invariably sell by the each. I've never known a complete set to come on the market from any film because only... only a few hundred of these were produced for each film because very few theaters had the frames for them. They had the frames for the 11x14s but not for these large ones. Only the big, downtown, first-run movie theaters were able to show these. They haven't come to the market in any format and even with the... with the trimming, you'd have to be looking at somewhere about $1,200 to $1,500 for each of these jumbo lobby cards.
Oh, God. APPRASIER: So it's one of the most popular films of the '30s for collecting paper. The poster goes for $14,000 to $15,000 and the jumbo lobby cards in… in proportion would sell in that range of $1,000.
So what do you think my collection is worth? APPRASIER: Well, with the... with the trimmed cards and with this and six of them, about $10,000 to $12,000 because there's two more books of material there, too.
It's a great collection.
Wow! My husband is probably dying at this point.
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.
Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.
Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.