Master Still Photos?

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Brooksie

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Master Still Photos?

PostTue Nov 28, 2017 3:16 pm

I recently purchased what was purported to be a master still photo, which was described to me as a still that was struck for the studio's exclusive in-house use, and from which the subsequent copies for public distribution were copied.

It doesn't have a stills code, which I was told was a sure way of identifying a master still, but it does have the typical 'X and Y, stars of the new movie Z' publicity snipe stuck to the back, which made me wonder if it was just a regular publicity photo that did not have a code for whatever reason. It's not an area I'm familiar with. Can anyone help me out in confirming that it's authentic (or otherwise)?
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missdupont

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Re: Master Still Photos?

PostTue Nov 28, 2017 6:17 pm

Keybook stills were normally kept in books, with holes punched in them at the top, signifying they were the studio's reference copies, with still codes somewhere on the verso, but not all possessed snipes. Most stills manufactured were made from the negatives associated with these stills, so virtually every still that went out would have a code on it and even sometimes the photographer's name. The MGM, Paramount, RKO, and First National keybook stills that the Margaret Herrick Library has all possess holes at the top. Keybook stills from about 1934 on also have the Production code Administration stamp on the back showing that they were approved for release. On virtually every still studios made, they attached snipes, and when sending them to magazines and newspapers would also include a letter giving further background and even suggesting uses for the photo. Magazines and newspapers also often stamped the photos they received. I have plenty of stills with codes and snipes, but that doesn't mean they are the studio's keybook photos.
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Brooksie

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Re: Master Still Photos?

PostWed Nov 29, 2017 11:17 am

Interesting. I guess this will require some further research. I might ask the dealer to provide some more information on their provenance.
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silentfilm

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Re: Master Still Photos?

PostWed Nov 29, 2017 12:39 pm

I have dozens of stills that don't have a still code. Ignoring those from the early teens that did not use codes, it doesn't really mean anything. It does make is slightly likely that the still is a reprint, and the code was cropped out by the photographer who duplicated the photo.
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missdupont

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Re: Master Still Photos?

PostWed Nov 29, 2017 3:50 pm

Yes, I have vintage stills where you can see someone reprinted them and then cropped them to remove still codes and/or photographer's name, or ones from newspaper morgues where they painted around codes and photographers' names.

The Production Code Administration stamps were green colored on stills they passed after 1934. They also had a certain stamp for stills they killed as well.
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Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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Re: Master Still Photos?

PostThu Nov 30, 2017 1:36 pm

Post the photos of the codes
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Brooksie

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Re: Master Still Photos?

PostFri Dec 01, 2017 6:13 pm

For a bit of context - the still is from a 1940s film, and the presence of a studio 'Please credit ...' stamp suggests that it's not a reprint - but it also makes me wonder if it truly is a master still, or simply a studio-distributed still where the code was left off the image for whatever reason. Why would they bother with the stamp when the photo was for internal studio use only?

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missdupont

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Re: Master Still Photos?

PostFri Dec 01, 2017 6:27 pm

That kind of stamp was put on the thousands of stills they mailed to magazines/newspapers, they had no stamp like that on keybook stills. It's also missing the stamp from the Production Code Administration, giving approval to distribute it.
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missdupont

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Re: Master Still Photos?

PostSat Dec 02, 2017 9:28 am

There are some keybook stills for sale on ebay right now which show what they look like. The Paramount still with Robert Ryan from I MARRIED A COMMUNIST is linen backed and has 4 holes at the top for the book. The Universal still of MY MAN GODFREY has 3 holes at the top for how it fit in their keybooks. The top with the holes is larger than the bottom ends. The Fox stills have holes in the images. There is an Alan Ladd still that has the green Production Code approval stamp on the back as well.
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Brooksie

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Re: Master Still Photos?

PostMon Dec 04, 2017 8:42 pm

So, as I suspected - that pretty much confirms that it was not a master still. That's OK - it's an image I've been after for a while and the price was right. Nothing lost, nothing gained.
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LouieD

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Re: Master Still Photos?

PostTue Dec 05, 2017 11:19 pm

missdupont wrote: the green Production Code approval stamp on the back as well.


I love stills which have that stamp. I have a Breen as well as some other guy.

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