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Featured Acquisition: The Lester Glassner Collection of Movie Posters

Adventures of Tarzan
Ritchey Litho. Corp., "Adventures of Tarzan," 1921.

Lester Glassner collected posters for some forty odd years, amassing a significant collection of almost 500 pieces which he offered to the Library of Congress in 2001. Knowing of the Library's National Film Registry and of the motion pictures, posters, lobby cards and movie stills in the Prints and Photographs and Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Divisions, Mr. Glassner decided that the Library of Congress would be the best home for his collection.

At his home, where he loved to sit in a tubular chrome chair from an old Twentieth Century-Fox screening room, he perused the shelves filled with books about movie history. One shelf was entirely filled with material about his favorite films: The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. Posters for these films are among the many treasures included in Mr. Glassner's collection. Other rare titles included are: All About Eve, Rebecca, Meet Me In St. Louis, Mildred Pierce, Sunset Boulevard, and a poster for the original release of Snow White. Eighteen titles match those on the National Film Registry, and fifteen titles reflect Oscar winners over the decades.

The collection begins with a 1921 color lithographic poster (displayed here) for The Adventures of Tarzan, starring Elmo Lincoln. Elmo Lincoln, born Otto Elmo Linkenhelt, was the first of many Tarzans. He was a giant of a man, especially for that decade, measuring 6'1" and weighing 230 pounds. The first Tarzan film, Tarzan of the Apes, was released during World War I, and when Winslow Wilson, hired to play Tarzan, felt the call to serve his country, Elmo Lincoln was offered the role. He was a brilliant success and the film was a huge hit, the first feature film to earn over a million dollars. He starred as Tarzan in two later films, The Romance of Tarzan (1918) and The Adventures of Tarzan (1921) and played other supporting parts in several action films. Previous to his Tarzan role, he was selected by D.W. Griffith to play a supporting part in The Battle of Elderbush Gulch (1912), multiple roles, including the blacksmith, in Griffith's Birth of a Nation (1915), and the Prince's bodyguard in Griffith's Intolerance (1916).

The Glassner collection continues with both classic titles and foreign films, with the majority dating in the 1930-1950s. Major stars featured are: Fred Astaire, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Judy Garland and Greta Garbo, and all film genres, westerns, war, science fiction, comedy, horror, melodrama, suspense, high art, musicals, classics and animation are included. The Glassner collection mirrors American cultural taste and shows the influence of American culture abroad. It dovetails with the film materials already in the collection by filling gaps in both titles and stars, studios and producers, and provides insights as to how our life style values have changed over time. Fashions, prejudices, propaganda, and social customs can all be found in poster art at one time or another, and the Glassner collections strongly supports this fact.

This collection is currently unprocessed and is served by advance appointment.

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  January 6, 2011
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