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Dumb luck coupled with timing and a bit of skill are the things that seem to put me in the right place at the right time. It happens on the rare occasions that I go to estate sales and purchase things because of my fascination of history.

I have long been a historical document and book fan. Roaming throught the occasional yard sale, massive estate sale or just rummaging through second hand stores, I was given a gift; the one for finding ephemera that always brings magic and saves something of spectacular historical value that belongs to the world, or at least, to the serious collector who has a passion for certain genres.

I buy stuff for fun and historical significance, and these things sometimes turn out to be a journey down an amazing historical road. And so this story goes…

I bought two small boxes of papers and pictures, not knowing what really was there. Then I discovered silent film historical documents, autographs, film stills and more, and they created a life of their own, while unburying the lives of so many talented people hidden in the past, silently.

Several years ago I purchased them at an estate sale and I believe they deserve to be in the home of a serious collector, because I hate to see the collection broken apart. Auction galleries tell me that the collection is rather large and must be broken apart in order to sell. But with autographs, 750 approx. 8×10 movie stills, and the life’s work of a director and his actress wife, it’s a bit daunting to say the least. There are literally dozens and dozens of actors in these stills. from children to adults and elderly actors from the silent film days.

The collection starts with a portfolio of autographed photos, from the European stage troupe actors who then played in New York. Some became Vitagraph players, as well as photos of the Vitagraph players that came in later. Mutual Film Company, provided an engraved silver chalice, which includes the men of 1916 that ran the film company and celebrate the producer. The producer’s brother, who also was an actor is heavily photographed in the collection. The autographs are numerous across dozens of movies.

Then comes California, the building of the studios, where many of these people are now buried at “Hollywood Forever” cemetery. The hand written notes, the ship listing printed for all aboard and for their filming, the properties bought and sold as a resort for the elite, the scrapbooks of a lifetime of film, the photos of later years as the actresses reunited for many events. The list is endless. I have many names of people, studio paper, movie titles etc. that will be added here, as I begin to unfold this incredible piece of lost history. The journey starts in the late 1800s and goes until the 1950s, even including bits of actual film (not silent, of course)These are some photos that I love, across all years of the collection, a drop in the bucket of the whole collection, enjoy!

The journey to the past will continue with updates, photos and more stories. Leave me comments and share the journey back, won’t you?

PatDDixon

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