04 September 2017
Rare 1930s and 40s cinema posters of Laurence Olivier and John Wayne found being used as carpet UNDERLAY by builders in 1985 go up for auction
Rare 1930s and 40s cinema posters which were found being used as carpet underlay will be going up for auction for the first time.
The collection, which was discovered accidentally by builders back in 1985, will go on sale in Cardiff next month.
The classic Hollywood posters are from the halcyon days of cinema, showing the likes of Sir Laurence Olivier and John Wayne in their prime.
The near pristine posters, which measure up to 7ft 2in by 6ft 5in, include some titles which have never been seen at auction before.
Auctioneers Rogers Jones & Co say it is difficult to predict what the posters will sell for as no comparisons have ever come to market but the collection of about 120 posters could fetch thousands.
When they pulled up the carpets they discovered the large movie posters folded over and used as underlay.
Bizarrely being hidden under the flooring seems to have perfectly preserved the posters, which are in very good condition for their age.
The two men stored them in plastic containers in a lock-up for more than 30 years but decided to take them to Rogers Jones & Co after the auction house got a record price recently of £28,000 for a bill poster featuring The Beatles.
Among the collection are classic horror names Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, who starred together in Black Friday (1940).
There is also John Wayne's breakthrough film Stagecoach (1939) and Alfred Hitchcock's second Hollywood feature Foreign Correspondent (1940).
A 1937 poster for Fire Over England, the first British film to have its premiere in Los Angeles and the first to pair Hollywood stars Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, is also up for sale.
There are also a number of bill posters advertising events at the New Theatre, Capitol, Empire, Olympia and Playhouse theatres.
The collection has been split into 70 lots and estimates range from £30-50 for the bill posters advertising upcoming events to £150 for the bigger film posters.
Ben Rogers Jones from the auction house said: 'The posters are all from the late 1930s and 1940s and include John Wayne's breakthrough film and Basil Rathbone's first appearance as Sherlock Holmes in the tweed and deerstalker.
'There are some horror titles, which are always popular with collectors - Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.
He said: 'There must be about 120 posters all together, some are big feature film posters and some are bill posters advertising forthcoming events.
'The two builders were renovating the house, they lifted up the carpets and lo and behold there were all these posters.
'Most were folded over and put under the carpet as underlay. It is remarkable that they have survived so well.
'In a way it preserved them, if they had been in an attic they would have been exposed to the light and damage from rodents and insects.
'These have been pressed down, a bit like you would press a flower in a book.
'At the time the market for such a thing was very much in its infancy but they kept them because it was a bit of Cardiff history.
'They put them in a builder's lock-up and forgot about them for 30 years but brought them to us after seeing a poster we had that sold for £28,000 and they realised now might be a good time to sell them.
'Some of them have never been seen before.
'A lot of the film poster collections we see are 1960s and onwards. Anything before that is rare and I couldn't find anything else coming up from the 1940s, but that makes it very difficult to price them.
'It's fantastic seeing the size of the twelve-sheet posters, these wouldn't have been inside the cinema. These were huge posters that went on the outside of buildings.
'The market for memorabilia and cinema history is huge now and I'm sure these will attract the interest of movie poster collectors.'
By Katie French For Mailonline
Published: 18:27, 22 August 2017