The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 11, March 12, 2017, Article 13


Speaking of other things that numismatists collect, how about movie posters? Dwight Manley (namesake of the American Numismatic Association's Dwight N. Manley Numismatic Library) has assembled a top collection of movie posters. -Editor

Birth of Motion Pictures Prominent coin collector, dealer and philanthropist Dwight Manley, for whom the American Numismatic Association’s library is named, has another collecting passion: silent movie-era posters. He has assembled the world’s largest collection of over 2,000 original posters and now is sharing a portion of it with the public through a museum exhibition in his hometown of Brea, California.

Manley led the successful 1999 acquisition and marketing of California gold Rush-era sunken treasure coins and ingots recovered from the fabled “Ship of Gold,” the SS Central America.

“Because of coin collecting I have a real appreciation of history, and I learned that most silent movie posters were destroyed as they were not meant to be saved. I began buying them. The largest cache known was in the range of 200 different posters, and I bought them all. The next largest cache was about 110, and I also bought them all. I scoured auctions, eBay, and price lists of silent film posters, and bought everything I could find. Today, I have approximately 2,000 posters,” Manley said.

More than half of the historic posters in the exhibition, “The Birth of Motion Pictures: An Illustrated History of Silent Cinema, 1910 – 1929,” are the only known surviving examples from those silent films and are being publicly shown for the first time in a century, according to Christina Mercer, Director of the City of Brea Art Gallery (

The unprecedented, multi-million- dollar exhibition of 60 original silent movie posters and vintage early cinema memorabilia, including one of only 15 rare “Silent Oscars” awarded to a silent film, continues through Friday, April 14, 2017, at 1 Civic Center Circle in Brea.

Manley became interested in film posters eight years ago, after visiting actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s Hollywood Hills home. “He had some of the greatest horror film posters of all time, such as Frankenstein and Dracula. I commented how very cool they were. A few years later I needed some art to put on the wall of a new house in Brea, and came across an auction with a couple of neat posters,” Manley recalled.

Dwight Manley and 1929 Oscar The rare “Silent Oscar” was for Distinguished Achievement in Cinematography, and presented to Clyde De Vinna (1890 – 1953) for the 1928 MGM film, White Shadows in the South Seas.

Among other highlights in the exhibition from Manley’s collection are posters from the estate of actor and director Lord Richard Attenborough (1923 – 2014) for the 1918 Charlie Chaplin film, A Dog’s Life, and the 1921 Chaplin and Jackie Coogan film, The Kid.

Another version of a poster for The Kid was from actor Jack Larson (1928 – 2015) who played Jimmy Olsen in the 1950s Adventures of Superman TV show and who received the poster as a gift from Chaplin.

The 1927 poster from the so-called holy grail of lost silent films, London After Midnight starring “the man of a thousand faces,” Lon Chaney (1883 – 1930), was acquired by Manley from Metallica guitar player Kirk Hammett.

The exhibition is open Wednesday through Sundays, Noon to 5 pm, and is hosted by the City of Brea as part of the Orange County California community’s 100th anniversary celebration. The exhibit will be made available in the future to other museums to continue sharing it with and educating the public.

For more information, see:

That's Dwight in the top hat next to the Oscar statue. Numismatic bibliophiles, take note: "I learned that most ... were destroyed as they were not meant to be saved. I began buying them." That's the very definition of ephemera, and numismatic ephemera is equally endangered. People throw it way, and as a result even ordinary items become rare, and important items become quite valuable. I was lucky to learn this fact early on in my collecting career, and I've accumulated a nice collection of numismatic ephemera, such as posters, postcards, letters, flyers, booklets, pamphlets and the like. Be on the lookout for such material for your collection.

On a related note, here's a Washington Post obituary from the movie world. Serious collectors and scholars know one when they see one. In the world of movies, Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne was an original - a full blown movie fan and researcher. -Editor

robert osborne Robert Osborne, the urbane, silver-haired film historian who had been the principal host of the Turner Classic Movies cable channel since its founding in 1994 and was a genial ambassador for an otherwise vanished era in filmmaking, died March 6 at his home in New York. He was 84.

Besides its magnificent film trove, TCM owed a sizable portion of its growth as a brand to Mr. Osborne, an unalloyed cinephile and former acting protege of Lucille Ball’s who once was actress Bette Davis’s date to the Academy Awards.

Mr. Osborne was endowed with a talent for befriending stars, many of them marquee movie names of his youth. They were relegated to the shadows by the time he got to know them in the 1960s, forgotten by an industry that had unsentimentally moved on. “Somebody like Dorothy Lamour,” he told the New York Times, “she adored me. I knew she had sold more war bonds during the Second World War than almost anybody in Hollywood.”

War bonds! Can we count that as a numismatic connection? -Editor

He was bewitched not just by movies, but also by the boldly illustrated movie posters and fan magazines that featured impossibly alluring actresses such as Lana Turner and sloe-eyed Ann Sheridan. His fascination with movie promotion led him to study advertising and then journalism at the University of Washington.

To read the complete article, see:
Robert Osborne, Turner Classic Movies host and film historian, dies at 84 (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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