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In Christie’s South Kensington (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) bi-annual Vintage Film Poster Sale on March 5 these 1930s and ’40s posters produced the lion’s share of the top prices.

The 217-lot sale included a large collection of predominantly horror and sci-fi posters from Baron Alexandre de Groote (3500 posters in 122 multiple lots), but the sale was slightly smaller than usual, following CSK’s decision to offer fewer, but better-quality entries.

CSK’s increasingly selective policy appears to be paying dividends as the sale boasted a 91 per cent take-up and totalled £262,810 (in the past these sales could be expected to sell around 75 per cent of entries).

The handful of casualties tended to be the more common posters in poor condition. Although criteria have become more selective, half of the consignments continue to be drawn from American vendors with the remainder hailing from the UK and Europe and a similar geographical mix of trade and private buyers.

The poster that packed the biggest punch was a 1936 Universal poster illustrating the silver screen’s first superhero: Flash Gordon. It was only the second time an American one-sheet, 3ft 5in by 2ft 3in (1.04m x 69cm), had been offered at auction – the first sold last November at Christie’s New York for $45,000 (then approx £42,140).

This US trade-entered example was in good condition, but its punchy £20,000-30,000 estimate limited the number of potentially interested buyers. “There are not that many collectors who will pay that sort of money,” said CSK’s specialist Sarah Hodgson.

However, only one serious bidder was needed to guarantee a sale and it sold to London specialist dealer The Reel Poster Gallery for £16,000.

There was more than one interested party for the Hearts In Dixie US one-sheet, Fox, 1929. Hearts In Dixie was the first musical to feature an all-black cast and this was an auction first for the title. Linen-backed but in good condition, its scarcity value coupled with its condition saw it coax a £13,000 bid from an anonymous buyer on the telephone.

Belgium-born Baron de Groote’s (1906-1991) 122-lot horror and sci-fi poster collection formed the bulk of the sale. He began collecting cinema posters in Brussels in the early 1930s after befriending a local cinema owner, and continued his hobby until the 1980s.

This extensive collection was consigned by his son and included several sought-after Universal titles that furnished the sale with a number of the top entries. Foremost was a Belgian poster of the legendary horror movie – The Mummy, 1932, Universal, 2ft 9in by 2ft 1/2in (84cm x 62cm).

The Mummy is generally considered to be the most collectable title, but most buyers can only dream of owning the US one-sheet. The first US one-sheet was auctioned at Sotheby’s, New York, in March 1997, for $410,000 (then approx. £261,150). Although this was in pristine condition, another US one-sheet, heavily restored, was sold at CSK in March 2001 at £70,000.

Belgian posters offer a more affordable alternative, and while this linen-backed example was not in the best condition, it had no trouble finding a buyer. It sold to The Reel Poster Gallery at £13,000, who also bid £8000 for a US one-sheet of Dr X, First National, 1932.

The collection’s other Universal posters included a 1941, linen-backed one-sheet illustration of The Wolf Man, depicting the hairy-faced werewolf glowering above a helpless collapsed maiden. Estimated at £6000-9000, the poster climbed to £11,000 when it was spiked by a US collector.

Bidding was also healthy for British posters of British-made films. One buyer went to a multiple-estimate £2600 to stake his claim for a Dracula poster, 1958, Hammer, a British double crown, 2ft 6in by 20in (76cm x 51cm), while outside of the collection a private British buyer bid £1300 for the classic 1955 Ealing comedy poster of The Ladykillers, 2ft 6in by 3ft 4in (76cm x 1.04m), in good condition.

Earlier in proceedings, the perennial auction favourite, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961, US, 22 by 14in (56cm x 35.6cm), in good condition, continued to appeal to a wide audience with this modestly estimated example fetching £1500.