Could This Be The Holy Grail Of Sci-fi Animation Film Posters? – ‘A Trip To The Moon’ 1914

A Trip To Mars Movie Poster - Lubin 1914

A Trip To Mars Movie Poster – Lubin Manufacturing Company, 1914

This poster would be an eye-catcher even without knowing anything about it. The illustration and graphic design just pop – it’s curious and fun, not unlike a lot of circus posters of the time that were designed to project those very elements. Unfortunately the artist is unknown – to collectors the poster is not. This might well be the Holy Grail of animated film posters. Invaluable, the world’s largest online auction marketplace, has listed this A Trip To Mars poster to go on auction on January 25, 2015, 11:00 AM EST. The auction house hosting the sale, Poster Auctions International, Inc., list the estimated price of this gem as $225,000 – $275,000.

This is their description:

Siegmund Lubin, a Polish Jew who came to this country in the 1870s, founded The Lubin Manufacturing Company, one of the earliest film production firms (later becoming The Betzwood Film Co.), in Philadelphia, and by 1912 was head of America’s first movie empire. He was known as “The King of the Movies,” becoming America’s first cinema mogul.

In 1902, Georges Méliès created A Trip to the Moon based on Jules Verne’s classic novel. It was the first movie to achieve worldwide fame. Lubin and other iconic contemporaries such as Thomas Edison were cited for rampantly pirating the film. Méliès sent his brother to the United States to stop it, establishing many of the copyright laws that still stand today. However, Lubin decided that he wasn’t going to be stopped, figuring out an innovative way to avoid paying royalties to Méliès: he created one of the earliest fully animated films ever produced, an American version of A Trip to the Moon, in 1914.

Animated films were extraordinarily unusual for the time. This production opened to the public six months prior to the release of WIndsor (sic) McCay’s Gertie the Dinosaur, which is often (incorrectly) cited as the beginning of movie animation. This, in fact, is the earliest film poster to ever surface representing a significant title in animation. And this is the only known specimen of it.

The design of this poster is noteworthy for its futuristic boldness and graphic clarity. There is no known surviving poster for the Méliès original film (and most probably none were produced). This is the only representation of the famous title, and one of the earliest science fiction artifacts ever discovered. Lubin went all out in this poster. He sensed that the sheer novelty of this animated film (crude and short as it was) would be worth a special marketing effort, therefore this spectacular poster. The A.B.C. company, which handled all of Lubin’s posters, gets design credit. It is doubtful that Vincent Whitman, the animator of the cartoon, had anything to do with the poster. The famed Otis plant in Cleveland (Otis Litho Co., Cleveland, OH – ed.) handled the stone lithographic work with precision.

So there you have it – a truly one-of-a-kind piece of American film history. It will be interesting to see if this rarity sells and by how much. The starting bid is $220,000. Imagine how great it would be to have an extra quarter-of-a-million dollars to spend on a fantastic little item like this.

5 thoughts on “Could This Be The Holy Grail Of Sci-fi Animation Film Posters? – ‘A Trip To The Moon’ 1914

    • Now that is a splendid idea Jen – it is a kind of waste that it should be stashed away.

      When I studied at London U. I did a homestay. The woman who owned the house had a long walk-in closet off the parlour/living room. In that closet she had stacked, front-to-back, paintings by some of the world’s most celebrated artists. I was astonished. She explained her reasons, but none of them could change my mind that this was a travesty.

      I appreciate your keen awareness about the meaning of valuable art. Way cool!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow….. I mean …. wow…. !

        I understand the desire to *possess* something wonderful like that … but …. it really does seem selfish not to share something the world would treasure. And to have a whole closet FULL of treasured art? Seems criminal!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah! — Dammit! One wonders how many things that should belong to the world are hidden in the hideaways of the wealthy. Or just imagine what, for example, the Vatican has stashed away.

        Some scholars believe that Rome had retained a lot of the Library of Alexandria’s treasures after the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC until the final decree of Pope Theophilus in AD 391. The things we could learn if we had access to those treasures.

        I’ll borrow your term — criminal!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I’d love to see what’s stashed in the Vatican. I can’t even imagine what they have. Probably a lot of treasures labeled “lost” by historians. And when the Soviets rolled through Europe too — where is all of *that* stashed?

        Liked by 1 person

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