Birth of a Nation movie poster makes $74,500

A Birth of a Nation one sheet has top performed at Heritage Auctions' vintage movie posters sale.

The 28 by 42 inch item, produced in 1915 for the divisive film, sold for $74,687 at the Dallas auction - a testament to its huge rarity.

Birth of a Nation poster
John Wilkes Booth makes his escape

"It's almost never seen at auction," explains Heritage Auctions.

The silent film depicts two families during and following the US civil war. It was hugely successful at the box office, partly fuelled by the controversy of its racist depiction of black people, and its portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan as heroes.

Indeed, the film is thought to have provided the impetus for the second era of the racist organisation, after it had died out in the 1870s.

Heritage explains the film is notable for more palatable reasons too. "It broke ground in new cinematic innovations, technical effects and artistic achievements that would influence feature films throughout the century and beyond," says the auctioneer.

The poster depicts actor John Wilkes Booth jumping down to the stage after shooting Abraham Lincoln at Washington's Ford's Theatre.

An original 1939 Son of Frankenstein one sheet poster was another star lot of the July 30 sale, making $43,020 - the first time a style A sheet has appeared at auction. The film was the last appearance of Boris Karloff in the famous role.

A style B one sheet from Paramount's Morocco sold for $40,630.

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