For example, early on Lombard was a newcomer, fairly low on the studio totem pole, so relatively few copies of photos were sent to the press as compared to later in the '30s, when Carole was big box office. If she was working on an A-grade production, stills promoting that would get more copies than if she were working on a programmer expected to be in and out of theaters in a week. And some images of her turned out to be more popular than others, so more copies were made, sometimes for Lombard's own personal use.
So over the years, some photos of Carole have become rather common among collectors (including many that were reprints of vintage pictures), while others fell by the wayside for whatever reason. The following is an example of the latter:
I've been searching for Lombard stills for quite a few years, and this is the first time I've come across this no-nonsense portrait. For the record, it's p1202-1041, and was likely issued in early 1935. How do we know? Well, it helps that this is an original photo, so there's a caption on the back:
This photo promoted Carole's movie "Rumba," which was issued in early 1935 -- just before Paramount, guided by new production head Ernst Lubitsch, boosted the level of her films. That may explain its relative rarity. What does the caption say?
"THERE'S A ZIP TO ALL NEW FADS -- that's why Carole Lombard has selected this brown calfskin bag with a talon fastener. Appearing opposite George Raft in 'Rumba,' her current Paramount picture, Miss Lombard uses this practical bag with a chic tailored street costume."
An addenda read,
"This dress is the ever-popular shirt maker dress in brown ribbed crepe -- extremely tailored"
This particular photo ended up on page 11 of the April 1935 issue of Movie Mirror, and someone on the staff added the phrase "to the right" after "This dress," probably meaning it was used as part of a photo spread. (If any of you have a copy of that issue, perhaps you can corroborate my guess.)
Okay, now you're asking, "what the heck is a 'talon fastener'?" Very simple -- it was a name often used in the 1930s to describe a recent innovation in apparel and other items -- something we now know as the zipper. Here's a 1937 ad for a talon fastener, which became as valuable on men's suits as in ladies' handbags:
Getting back to the Lombard photo, you can now understand why the minimum bid for this photo on eBay is $99.99. No one's bid on it yet, but there's still time -- bidding is scheduled to close at 9:07 p.m. (Eastern) next Sunday. If you want to learn more about it, simply go to http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=330336198033&indexURL=0&photoDisplayType=2#ebayphotohosting