November 30th, 2018

carole lombard 05
  • vp19

Fashionably negative, but not from '32

One benefit of being a Carole Lombard "expert" is that you can clarify mistakes about memorabilia made by sellers and collectors. Take the above photo whose negative is on sale at eBay, for example.

It's a lovely photo, said to be taken by famed Paramount photog Eugene Robert Richee. It shows Carole "from her days at Paramount Studios looking chic in art deco fashions including a flat, wide brimmed hat and simple black dress accented by jeweled clasps at the shoulders."

All that is accurate. But what isn't is the seller's claim that it's a "Carole Lombard 1932 original." We know that's not the case because of the studio's ID number in the lower right-hand corner, p1202-1381. The former identifies Carole's Paramount player number; the latter its numerical order.

Lombard reportedly had about 1,800 such portraits issued during her seven-plus years at Paramount, and based on the number, I'm guessing this to be from 1936 or even early '37. To the seller: Please understand I am not criticizing, merely clarifying. I wouldn't expect you to have known this.

Additionally, her hair style is darker than it was in 1932, when Carole was arguably at her blondest. As proof, here's a photo of her that ran in the August 1932 issue of Screen Book (

Its Paramount number? P1202-325.

Again, the top photo is gorgeous, and it is a negative. It's in fine condition, with pinholes in the top corners and light storage and handling wear. It's also not cheap -- $385, although you can make an offer or pay $35 in 12 monthly installments if you can't pay one lump sum.

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