Here’s a real find. This small, two-color sticker surfaced recently at Hake’s Americana and Collectibles. The auction house description is here. It appears to be an early promotional item for James Whale’s 1931 Frankenstein.
The piece is undated, but the style, the hand-lettered logo, the catch phrase — The Man Who Made a Monster! — and the Laemmle credit are all typical of the original ad campaign.
The highly impressionistic image of The Monster, an amorphous golem-like giant with glowing red eyes, suggests pre-production art, something done prior to the now famous makeup having been finalized. It also evokes the earliest Frankenstein poster from a Universal campaign book that promoted Bela Lugosi as the star of the film. That one featured a giant man striding through a modern city, with beams shooting out of his eyes.
The origins of the sticker are unknown. It might be contemporary with the film or made at a later date. As to purpose, it could have been a theater giveaway. Handouts and premiums used to be quite common. My mom had a cutlery set she had assembled going to the movies. Forks this week, soup spoons next week. As a kid, I saw The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962) and got a lenticular ring showing Moe making faces. Saw Premature Burial (1962) and got a strip of black and white Monster Stamps, and I still have the May The Force Be With You lapel button they gave out on the first day Star Wars played, in 1977.
Whatever its origins or purpose, the Frankenstein sticker is a unique and very intriguing item.
Thanks go out to James Philips of Batfatty vs. The Chocodiles for the find, and thanks to Ted Newsom for expertise.