We can tell it's from the early 1930s, but just how early? Fortunately, it's an original vintage photo, with some things on the back that serve as clues:
It lists a "CAROL LOMBARD" as a "PARAMOUNT FEATURED PLAYER." A misspelling of her first name? No -- in the late twenties she went by "Carol" when she worked at Pathe Pictures, although evidence has also proven that she occasionally was labeled as "Carole" during the middle and late 1920s. It wasn't until late 1930 that she added the "e" for good.
But what's unusual about this photo is that the front has no coding listed. Lombard received the code number P-1202 when she arrived at the studio -- and since this is a vintage portrait, we know it has not been cropped. So what's the explanation? I'm guessing that it may have been a still photo taken of Lombard between her dismissal at Pathe and her eventual hiring at Paramount, and her new studio simply made copies to promote their new hire before she could receive an official session at Paramount. Her first movie there was "Safety In Numbers," and she wasn't offered a contract until after she made that film.
The photographer was listed in the lower right-hand corner of the back; his first name is "Herman," and it appears the last name begins with a "Z." Beyond that, I can't make out the name. I can't recall seeing any Paramount photographers named Herman, though I don't claim to be an authority on that studio's photographers.
Whatever, it's a charming portrait, and it can be yours. It's being auctioned at eBay, Bids begin at $49.99 (no bids as of yet), and bidding closes at just after 11:45 a.m. (Eastern) on Thursday. If you're interested, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-VINTAGE-PHOTOGRAPH_W0QQitemZ130313534927QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item1e574abdcf&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=65%3A1%7C66%3A2%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318%7C301%3A0%7C293%3A2%7C294%3A50.