Everything is donated!
Shipments come in from all over the world usually without provenance or authentication. We receive hundreds of thousands of items every year. Sorting and cataloging are perpetual activities. Remember, we are a nonprofit repository, not an auction house. Our online auctions augment donations and grants to support preservation, research, education, and exhibition.
That said, here are a few tips to make your bidding more rewarding.
Original or Not
Yes, we do have quite a bit of original material that makes its way into the auction. Here’s a fairly simple method to recognize material most likely to be original.
Silent material – We have it – including numerous keybook stills, but we don’t put those out in the auction. We have some special projects in the works for those. Stand by for announcements. So, all the silent material in the auction is either later releases or some great high-quality reissues and reprints we have received from donors.
1940s to early 60s – We have numerous available. If the condition is Very Good+ etc., it’s mostly likely a later reissue. If you think it is original, look at the paper and condition in the high res (large) image to spot blemishes. That age of material will generally have slight browning, fading, curling, border tears, storage wear, wrinkles, etc., and NOT be in perfect condition. It was a different kind of paper back then without all the high gloss of today.
70s and newer – harder to tell. We have received numerous boxes direct from the printers addressed to the distributors filled with a single title. Read the descriptions carefully.
For All Years – Read the descriptions. We try to pinpoint, show and describe when there is additional information on the items in the lot, such as stamps, snipes, and/or embossing. They were added by studios, distributors or censors and a great way to tell originality as they are too costly, hard to duplicate, and time-consuming for those printing reprints or fakes.
Also, remember – studio reissues (rereleases) are also originals – not for the original release year of the film but for the year of the studio rerelease and quite often different from material issued in the first release.
We have now received over 3 million pieces donated from every direction conceivable– Hollywood shops closing down, dealers, distributors, and even a Cinema International Corporation (CIC) warehouse. We receive everything imaginable from fantastic originals to really cheap copies – and it’s all mixed in with NO provenance.
A Message From Our Chief Archivist
So, my advice is … if originality is that important – look at it carefully in the high-resolution images. Ask questions. I don’t mind letting you know any info that I have on any item.Ed Poole, MPA Chief Archivist