A collection of thirty- three 1920s signed photographs of New England movie theaters are currently open for online bidding until May 20 at Philip Weiss Auctions
The group of matt mounted 11 inch by 9 inch sepia toned prints are pencil signed by Paul J. Weber adjacent to each photo. The sale also features seven unmounted, unsigned prints.
Images are of seven New England movie theaters that, judging by the visual references to the introduction of sound to movies and various movie poster displayed, date from the late 1920s. Each group of prints features a photo of the theater front plus interior views.
Paul J. Weber ( 1882 - 195?) was an architectural, industrial, landscape photographer who worked in the New England area. Other examples of his work can be found in the Fletcher Steel Landscape Collection at Lake Forest College Library, Lake Forest, Illinois.
Weber was hired by the New England Theater Operating Company, a loose affiliation of independent movie house owners to shoot the photos in the Weiss sale. They were collected into a portfolio created for presentation to the head of Paramount Pictures, Alfred Zukor, who had expressed interest in making an investment the chain. By the early years of the Depression, Zukor owned all the theaters represented in the portfolio.
Among the Massachusetts theaters featured in the collection are The Regent in Quincy; The Marlborough; The Central Square in Waltham; The Elm in Attleboro and The Colonial in Natick. There is also a set of photos of the Opera House in Milford, Connecticut.
The six auction lots of photos are from the collection of Rudy Franchi, longtime entertainment memorabilia appraiser on the PBS series, Antiques Roadshow who currently runs the website, Poster Appraisal Dot Com.