November 27th, 2009

carole lombard 05
  • vp19

Going negative -- for a price

Of late, we've noted the increasing availability of negatives of Carole Lombard publicity stills at eBay and other auction sites. Well, it's taken yet another turn, as one seller is now offering nine negative images of Lombard for a minimum bid of $999.99.

Oh, and that number's not for the complete set -- it's for each one.

Yeah, that was my reaction, too. But before we discuss the price, let's go over the images.

These are all original, 8" x 10" negatives of Paramount publicity stills. I've seen several of these images before, but there are also a few that are new to me (and possibly you, too). Fortunately, the seller provided positive images of the pics (and a print of each negative will be part of the deal). Here they are, in chronological order.

First, p1202-31, 98 and 388:

Next, p1202-757, 1233 and 1238:

And finally, p1202-1259, 1398 and 1485:

A solid, if not entirely representative, cross-section of Lombard's Paramount still portfolio. (I've cropped the photos to eliminate borders; some of the print images are convex, so consequently some of the edges may not appear.)

Okay, the negatives are nice, but the price? What gives?

A glance shows the seller has a 100 percent customer satisfaction rate. This person has about 23 pages of items for sale, many of them stills or transparencies of more recent films and TV selling for $24.99 or thereabouts. (I'm guessing the seller was either a professional photographer or knew someone who was.)

However, this person is also selling nine other 8" x 10" negatives, presumably all from Paramount. What are the prices being asked for those?

* One of Alan Ladd for $299.99.

* One of Marlene Dietrich for $499.99

* Two of Gail Patrick, each for $499.99.

* Five of Veronica Lake, each for $799.99.

The comparative price range appears reasonable (the Dietrich price may seem relatively low, but it's frankly not one of her better photos). I'm guessing that based upon experience with Hollywood memorabilia, this seller has an idea of what the market will bear, at least among serious collectors with plenty of money. And while many of us may fancy being in the first category, very few of us are in the second.

Normally, this is where I'd give you the specific information and a link to each photo, but since there are so many of them, I'll instead refer you to the seller's page at eBay, Bidding on the Lombard items close at about 1:25 a.m. (Eastern) on Thursday.

Oh, and one final thing: I have spent $5 on a MegaMillions ticket, one of the multi-state lottery games; the drawing is tonight. Should I win the seven-figure grand prize -- the odds of which are infinitesmal -- I promise to bid on all nine of these pictures.

Stay tuned.
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