You'd think that a 1924 playbill, which contains unique ads for interesting national brands as well as local clubs and services, would be a nice ephemera find. Not so. I dread finding playbills like this one.
Here's why: it's against my principles to take a very rare item (in excellent condition) and cut it up to remove the ads. But unless I'm willing to break it up and sell the ads individually, the item will probably sell whole for only a fraction of the value of its parts. And the kicker is...whoever buys it as a whole unit, will most likely turn around and cut it up and sell the ads individually. So it's going to wind-up in pieces regardless. It's a frustrating Catch-22 that I imagine many ephemera dealers face.
This playbill is for a show called Madame Pompadour, which ran at the Martin Beck Theatre (New York) in 1924. I don't know if if the play was any good or not, but the playbill has some really interesting ads for such companies as Marmon, Springfield Tires, Helmar Turkish Cigarettes, and Murad Cigarettes.
Individually, the ads might fetch $10 each. Kept whole, the playbill might bring $5.
So, for me, when I spot a well-preserved vintage playbill among a pile of old paper, it's like finding fly specks in the pepper.