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“1931″ Dracula One Sheet Poster Determined to be Fake, Pulled from Next Week’s Profiles in History Auction

September 30, 2009 by  

Dracula-One-Sheet-Poster-from-Profiles-in-History-Hollywood-Auction-37-CATALOG-Fake-x380

On the heels of the vintage poster scandal reported on earlier this month (see Charges of Fraud Rock The Collectible Movie Poster Market and Hobby), there has been more controversy in the collectible poster memorabilia field as yet another scandal – and altogether different kind of fraud – has been uncovered by members of that community. 

The Dracula poster adorning the cover of the latest Profiles in History catalog, authenticated by John Davis of Poster Mountain, has been pulled from next week’s auction event and declared a fake.

The following is the original catalog page from the Profiles in History catalog:

Dracula One Sheet Poster from Profiles in History Hollywood Auction 37 CATALOG [x425]

Click for Full Resolution

Below is the original assessment and analysis from John Davis at Poster Mountain, serving as the basis of his authentication:

Dracula-One-Sheet-Poster-Mountain-Original-Authentication [x425]

Click for Full Resolution

Coincidentally, I did discuss the preceding fraud controversy with Joe Maddalena of Profiles in History earlier this month, during my preview of the “Hollywood Auction 37″ offerings.  Part of this discussion was memorialized on video (filmed 09/15/09), which was published in an earlier article (see Vintage Universal Horror Poster Fraud Update: Video Interview with Joe Maddalena, Profiles in History).  This interview segment used the Dracula poster as subject for the discussion, and following discussion with hobbyists in that field, I subsequently published a “Reader Comment” to that article with native, high resolution, 1920×1080 video stills of the poster from my footage.

As noted in preface to the video and prior articles, I personally do not collect posters or know very much at all about that pursuit, but I do believe that these developments are notable and of interest to the original prop and wardrobe collecting field.  As such, my attempt with this article is to summarize the recent events as best as possible.

My primary sources of information are the following:

As I understand it from my reading of these various sources, questions and concerns about the authenticity of the “1931 Dracula” one sheet first materialized on the MoPo mailing list, and the discussion spilled over into a dedicated topic on the ‘Not Suitable for General Exhibition” Yuku Board discussion forum a little more than one week ago.

Diane Jeffrey, President and CEO of Studio Conservation Inc. (“Studio C”), explained that she had performed a “linenbacking” of a Dracula poster a few months earlier, and wanted to determine if the one sheet offered for sale at auction was the same piece.  She stated that she had contacted John Davis at Poster Mountain and published their e-mail exchange, in which Mr. Davis reiterated that the piece was “irrefutable authentic”.

Below is an excerpt from her message published via MoPo Listserv and republished in the Yuku board discussion (see [MOPO] DRACULA – Maybe relevent, maybe not | Diane Jeffrey | Tue, 22 Sep 2009 17:15:08 -0700):

My main concern, and still is, the fact that I questioned the piece I had in here, at the time, due to several items. The piece did not have the “feel”,: of normal poster paper, and it also had some type of remnant backing on the back, sort of like a layer of cardboard. Also, both bottom corners had been meticulously ripped out, only in the section where the text would have been in the borders causing me to think it might be a re-issue or something. I questioned my client on this at the time. He offered little insight to all of this, and stated, its just going to be framed. I did the restoration, and when it came time for the text issue, he dictated what he wanted us to write in that area, which we did, knowing that it probably was not correct.

When the news broke about the Universal fakes, I immediately thought about that poster, especially since my client was new, I knew nothing about him and he lived in New Jersey.

I was surprised to see the exact same title in Profiles Auction. As stated above, I was alarmed when I had a Dracula poster in my shop, for the above reasons, and since hearing about the terrible fake scam.

My call to you was to simply find out if it might be the same poster, and if it was, to offer any information I had.

On the Yuku board discussion, Richard C. Evans (username “evansrc“) published a very detailed analysis between the Dracula one sheet consigned to the Profiles auction and the genuine poster owned by Todd Feiertag (see eBay Auction: “DRACULA ’31 Original BELA LUGOSI 27×41 UNIVERSAL HORROR”  |  ARCHIVE), as well as a third image from “Graven Images: The Best of Horror, Fantasy, and Science-Fiction Film Art from the Collection of Ronald V. Borst“.  Mr. Evans used Photoshop to overlay the images in as best a matching scale as possible.  See analysis beginning with Page One of the Yuku forum topic (also see FOOTNOTE following article for archive of initial analysis):

Yuku-Not-for-General-Exhibition-Discussion-Topic-Dracula-Poster-Analysis-x425

Ultimately, there were discrepancies between the Profiles consigned piece and the other two examples, most significantly the panel of credits beneath the primary image as well as the spacing of the title, DRACULA.

With this ongoing discussion, different possibilities were raised about an alternate source for the poster images and layout represented in the Profiles consigned piece, from the original pressbook to various modern day reproductions.  Significant contributions by way of analysis were also made by Richard Halegua of MoviePosterBid.com.

It was ultimately determined that the Dracula one sheet consigned to Profiles in History matched a modern day reproduction currently available from a company called S2 Art Group Limited (see S2Art.com).  S2 Art offer a one sheet 27″ x 41″ reproduction of the Dracula poster for $325.00 (Direct Link to Current Page):

S2-Art-Dracula-1931-Poster-One-Sheet-Lithograph-Reproduction-Archive-x425

Click for Full Resolution Archive

The S2 Art website also includes a page that explains how they produce their high quality lithographs using vintage machinery (“crafted on the same flatbed presses used in the legendary ateliers of Paris“) – one of only seven such presses estimated left in the world.

There is also a video feature available showing this work on The Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” series:

S2-Art-Dracula-1931-Poster-One-Sheet-Lithograph-Reproduction-Discovery-Channel-Dirty-Jobs-Video

Again, I am not well versed in the poster field, but reading these sources of information and discussions about the Profiles poster, it appears that Mr. Davis was fooled in that he was testing the poster for the type of fraud uncovered last month (in which high resolution images were affixed to authentic posters of lesser value which had the front sides sanded down), whereas this poster was actually newly produced using vintage machinery.

Additionally, per these community discussions, it was discovered that the two corners of the consigned Dracula poster were removed and replaced, with the person who brought the poster to Studio C directing her to restore the wording “Country of Origin USA” and the litho number.  Apparently, Morgan Litho plate numbers provided was incorrect, which provided further evidence that the one sheet was suspect.  More information can be found in this information and photos provided by Richard Halegua (Go To Direct Source for High Resolution Jumps: Comic-Art.com/s2art_dracula/):

Richard-Halegua-Movie-Poster-Bid-Dracula-Poster-Analysis-S2-Art-Gallery-x500

Click for Medium Resolution

More, it appears that the source image for the S2 Art reproductions was based on images from the American Film Institute, not the original poster, so the comparative analysis performed by Mr. Evans was instrumental in raising questions about the discrepancies in comparing with the two known and genuine examples.  Per research, it also appears that the artwork was intentionally changed from the source for these reproductions as well, in part to prevent one being passed off as an authentic example.

Per a message posted on the MoPo Listserv tonight, Mr. Halegua states, in an open letter to John Davis (see MoPo Archive for full letter: [MOPO] An Open Letter to John Davis of Poster Mountain | Richard Halegua Comic Art & Movie Posters | Wed, 30 Sep 2009 21:35:01 -0700):

Jack [Soloman, owner of S2 Art Gallery] and I also discussed that the type on the AFI Litho Series posters, which are the same images licensed to Art.com, were reset when necessary to clean up much hand written original type, one reason being that the artist wanted to make sure that there was a difference between the original posters and these lithographed art prints so that they cannot be sold as forgeries. The press operator who I also spoke to mentioned that many times they see some of their art print from other areas being sold as original prints by scammers on eBay.

The initiative of Diane Jeffrey, Richard C. Evans, Richard Halegua, and others in openly scrutinizing the poster and its authenticity can be credited in helping to stop the fake piece from being sold at auction for likely hundreds of thousands of dollars, and will perhaps lead to the discovery of additional fraudulent pieces sold into the marketplace, as well as prevent more fraud in the future.

Today, John Davis of Poster Mountain, who authenticated the Dracula poster consigned to Profiles in History, published on his website his own update on the piece that he had previously determined to be genuine (see PosterMountain.com):

Poster-Mountain-Dracula-1931-REPRODUCTION-Assessment-Fake-x425

Click for Full Resolution Archive

Excerpt:

**REPRODUCTION** Entirely different type of fake poster, which, due to the dissimilarities to all of the other fakes we have uncovered, this one fooled us until we learned more about it. This once legitimate S2 reproduction one sheet was sanded thin by the “restorer” then lined with canvas and paper (“linen backed”) with airbrush restoration throughout the border and title. The two bottom corners which would have had vital reproduction information printed as identification were removed and replaced in a restorative fashion and the fine print from an original Dracula poster was then added by hand. Fold lines have been touched up with colored pencil. Minor paper loss in spots only in border and center fold line intersection near the eye. Poster presents very nicely, though some restoration has worn off in the fold lines. Bela Lugosi, Universal Horror.

As seen in the MoPo letter by Mr. Halegua above, some in that community are surprised that the poster was misauthenticated via a hands on analysis, when others were able to raise material questions based on photos made available, and further dismayed by the subsequent follow-up by Poster Mountain in the past week as this has unfolded.

With regards to Profiles in History, they relied on the professional authentication of the poster by an expert prior to placement in the auction catalog.  As questions were raised upon release of photos to the public, Joe Maddalena has been in contact with many in the poster collecting community and also got in touch with me days ago to  let me know that the lot was pulled from the auction pending further review, prior to the revised conclusion published today by Mr. Davis.

Should Profiles make a statement in the coming days, I will be sure to publish it on the Original Prop Blog as a follow-up to this report.

Past related articles published by the Original Prop Blog can be found via the link below (Market Watch | Posters, One Sheets, Lobby Cards):

Jason DeBord

  • http://www.originalpropblog.com Jason DeBord

    Footnote:

    Below is the original analysis published by Richard C. Evans on the Yuku forum topic on 09/22/09 (see original source: Not Suitable for General Exhibition > Movie Poster Discussion > Dracula Poster):

    Below are excerpts of that analysis, preserved as an archive of his work and analysis for historical reference. Click on any image for the full resolution version.

    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    Following that post I had a quick compare of the Profiles in History image against Todd Feiertag’s from the ebay listing.
    Using Photoshop, in layers in the same file, reducing the opacity conforming the size and matching up perspective.
    Feiertag image admittedly isn’t ideal resolution, but if the Profiles image had roughly matched up I’d have left it at that.
    It didn’t.
    So I scanned the Borst 1 sht from Graven Images, along with Feiertag’s, another known original.
    The three 1 shts. (I’ve brightened Borst’s for better clairity of detail.)


    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    “Though I couldn’t match Feiertag’s to The Profiles 1 sht, it easily matched up the Borst’s copy.”


    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    Borst’s being sharper, I used that for reference against the Profiles copy.
    (Any discrepancies I also checked the Feiertag copy.)


    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    Couldn’t get it to match.
    The largest discrepancy seeming to be the panel of credits beneath the image.
    Panel taller in the Profiles copy.
    Other detailed, but marked differences first.
    The MM in LAEMMLE, top left.


    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    (Edit: Only just spotted I captioned the pic incorrectly it’s Profiles top, Borst bottom, everything stands.)
    Different type face, although it could possibly be an area of restoration.

    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    The title “DRACULA”

    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    The letter spacing is different.


    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    Borst “DRACULA” type versus Profiles.
    Though the initial D and final A match, things in between differ.
    DR, roughly similar.
    Borst RA very tight spacing. Profiles noticeably more open.
    Likewise Borst AC tight. Profiles AC more open.
    CU, roughly similar.
    UL, Borst this time open. Profiles tighter. (Used up more space than with previous letters.)
    LA, roughly similar.
    Where the letters are at variance they sit slightly differently on the red cobweb.
    (This of course be down to a large area of restoration.)

    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    At the base, generally it looks like the type is well matched, but the line spacing is off.
    More space between the lines in the Profiles copy making the panel deeper.
    This a pretty good instance of the spacing between the lines.

    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    Top line matched

    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    Bottom line matched.

    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    “With” is spaced the same to the line above, but there’s more space between it and the line below compared to the Borst copy.

    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    Also, there was speculation on MOPO that if the Profiles copy is a fake, the cover image of the 1 sht from the pressbook may have been used.

    The pressbook cover actually isn’t an perfectly accurate image of the I sht, not proportionally as tall as a 1 sht for one thing.

    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    Could possibly have made use of the image, but the Lugosi image is cropped more at the bottom beneath bow tie so some image would have to be made up.

    But if they did, they were sharp enough to re-render all the type.


    Richard C. Evans wrote:

    Not saying the Profiles copy is a fake, with re-rendered type, just that it’s a little odd.
    Though could possibly be all down to much restoration, and if so presumably not the copy Studio C had, as it doesn’t seem to tally with the description.

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