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Customer Discussions > Broadway forum

old broadway playbills have a life?

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Showing 1-25 of 177 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 13, 2010 9:36:40 AM PST
What does one do with 50 years of New York Playbills? Is there a market for them? Curious to know what one "does" with them as well as printed books of plays from former Fireside Theatre and even collection of Theatre Art magazines ??? You never see anything about those who love to read/ share/ Any ideas?

Posted on Feb 13, 2010 1:28:19 PM PST
Good question. I have all my Playbills starting with the original South Pacific. Most are bound and in my library. However, I usually end up with my partner's copy also which gives a huge number of duplicates. You might want to contact theaters like GOODSPEED in ConnecticUt or PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE in NJ as they might want them for their libraries. Theatre departments in universities sometimes accept donations of Playbills and maybe they'll take the Fireside Books,which I also have a slew of. If that fails, try selling them on Craig's list or e-bay. Keep us posted on your efforts.

Posted on Feb 14, 2010 6:29:30 AM PST says:
Yep my first show was "On a Clear Day......." It poured that day...I mean a deluge! LOL just thinking about it ....I hate to throw them out....Now they are in storage. Memories.

Yep. PLEASE keep us posted.

Posted on Apr 6, 2010 1:36:53 PM PDT
There is a market for them. I, for one, buy old playbills. Especially souvenir books, too. I also have the old Fireside editions. And they are saleable on Ebay, too.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 10, 2010 10:29:45 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 10, 2010 10:31:06 AM PDT
Ex Libris says:
I have hundreds of OC Playbills from 1947 to 1990 and a few beyond then. I also have souvenir books from the same years, and dozens of window cards, from original productions of "West Side Story", "Camelot" and other mega hits, as well as some from mega flops such as "Come Summer", "Cry For Us All", Kelly",etc. All, or most all, of them are for sale along with leather, gold embossed Playbill binders.
I see from your profile page that you are inerested in bull fighting and that we very much share other same interests.
Please send me you emaill address so that I can respond with details of the above

Posted on May 3, 2010 5:20:48 PM PDT
Neal Foore says:
well, my playbills have stayed in piles here there and everywhere - until i got an idea to frame them. it took me forever to find a frame that fit them. and then wow! i found the perfect sized frames - and you will never guess where. the dollar store. now one by one they are going up on the walls of my business a hair salon in baltimore called "neal's the hair studio". we have done the hair and makeup for lots of broadway people. elaine stritch has used our salon as well as stephanie mills, andrea marcavicci (hope my spelling is correct). tracie thoms i have known since the day she was born, all though her high school days she'd come in all the time. she just visited yesterday. by the way she is going to be at fienstiens doing a cabaret act. just mention my name neal from baltimore and she will light up. what a great lady she has become. on her way to superstardom. my email is nfnjp at if anyone wants to say hi. have a great wonderful broadway life you all. it's all i play in my salon = broadway and standards. love - neal

Posted on May 4, 2010 10:34:14 AM PDT
Music Lover says:
Me thinks the Playbills are nu-found - like the provence only in print. The yellow came first, because it appears to be a soft yellow - not the brash yellow of today (for lack of a better shade of hounds-hooth). Gone are the harlets who would strut their stuff on the block. They have been replaced by skinny boys and girls in their school yarns. A better pie, for sure, but not as authentic. What is art-rat? Because we all lead a common cause for the better half - -ups and downs are now measured by inches rather than feet. An ode to the era of vaudeville. And that, my friends, is the real Playbill worth. Think about it.

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2010 2:05:34 PM PDT
how does one determine the value of such things, even when in pristine state?

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2010 4:52:41 PM PDT
It's whatever a buyer will pay. I doubt that they have any great monetary value, but for me, they are remembrances good, bad or mediocre of time spent in the theatre. I recently paid $5.00 for a copy of DO RE MI, because it was the only show that i have seen for which I had no Playbill.

Posted on May 5, 2010 10:36:55 AM PDT
Music Lover says:
The value, me thinks, is linked to the overall condtion of the pulp that helps, ever do gently, to bind the paper. Notwithstanding a complete overhaul, it would be a guise with the best intention since "Bullets Over Broadway". Just us, mind you, and that will bring the true value.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2010 10:36:06 AM PDT
I could be very interested in buying any Broadway musical souvenir programs as well as Playbills you may want to get rid. I would like to hear from you. Thanks.
Mitch Mitchell

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2010 11:55:12 AM PDT
Ex Libris says:
Hi Mitch-
You might be the first person to delve into my colletion of Playbills and illustrated souvenir books [both musical and straight plays].
I have never created a list of these more than 1000 items [which is something that I'll soon get to], but if you'd like to shoot some titles at me, I'll be glad to get back to you with a report on what I have. available.
The great bulk of these are Broadway prductions from the mid '50s through the mid '80's, with a couple of dozen before and after those dates [including some beautifully designed 'antique' ones from the teens and 20s, well before the first generic Playbill design was introduced. I speak of the 'script' logo which predates what became the standard yellow upper left corner box They're really quite gorgeous art work and certainly unique.]
I also have [literally] hundreds of ballet Playbills and programs and illustrated souvenir books, mostly concentrated on the New York City Ballet from the aerly 60s through the 70s. A number of concert and opera performances are available as well, as are some hard cover illustrated sovenir books from film 'road show' attractions such as, 'South Pacific', Spartacus, 'Ben-Hur,' various Cinerama films, 'Around the World in 80 Days, etc.

Thanx for contacting me. Hopefully we'll be able to mesh efforts.
Scott Fuchs

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2010 11:11:49 AM PDT
I was very glad to hear from you. I, too, will need to make a better list of the Playbills I am interested in, which I will do this weekend and get back to you. Meanwhile, can you give me at least a partial list of the Souvenir programs (musicals only) that you have? I would be very appreciative. Hope you have a great weekend. Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2010 1:18:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 4, 2010 2:37:25 PM PDT
Ex Libris says:
Hi Mitch-
The following is indeed, only a partial list. It's culled from one carton of three that I've just pulled out of storage
To the best of my recollection they are all original B'way cast programs, unless otherwise noted, 'n/oc'. And are in near mint condition, other than a mildew odor.

The Apple Tree
Bells Are Ringing
Ben Franklin in Paris
Bye Bye Birdie
Damn Yankees
Company [o/c + Kert]
Dear World
Here's Love
Hello Dolly
High Spirits
Hot Spot
I Can Get It For You Wholesale
Ilya Darling
A Joyful Noise
King & I [n/oc]
Kismet [n/oc]
La Plume de ma Tante
Anyone Can Whistle All All American
Destry Rides Again
Do I Hear A Waltz Do Re Mi
King & I [n/oc]
A Little Night Music
Little Me
Mr. Wonderful
New Girl in Town
Oh, Captain!Redhead
Pajama Game [n/oc]
South Pacific [n/oc]
Mr. Wonderful
Milk & Honey
Flower Drum Song
Unsinkable Molly Brown
Happy Hunting
My Fair Lady [n/oc]
Subways Are For Sleeping
West Side Story
Porgy & Bess
[the Leontyne Price revival in the early 50s]
Funny Girl

........and only two more cartons to go.
The above will at least give you an idea of the bredth of the collection, but not some of the 'wild cards,' such as Judy Garland Concert Programs, the Ethel Merman/Mary Martin 'Together, One Night Only' benefit at the Broadway Theatre in the 60s, ephemera such as opening night stubs from 100s of shows [including the gold foil ticket from the opening of the Palace as a legit house with Sweet Charity].
Gad! I'm sounding like a carnival barker. Enuf!
It would be much easier to communicate with you via directemail. I don't know if amason allows that, but my edres is my first and last name at emirakuhahnlyin.


In reply to an earlier post on Jun 24, 2011 9:40:55 AM PDT
D. Munhall says:
Kennet I have 20 or so Playbills some go back to the mid-late thirties. Would you be interested.
Dennis in FL

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2011 4:08:37 PM PDT
Ex Libris says:
Hi Dennis-
Can u tell me the titles and conditions of what you have?


In reply to an earlier post on Jul 10, 2011 12:30:38 PM PDT
I'm 85 and have many Playbills from Broadway, not to mention those from amateur groups you wouldn't want. And a friend who died left me a huge box of his lifelong collection of programs. I have never even opened it. What might you buy? Category? Etc.
Pat Sheffield in NJ, (That's a Q, not a G.)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2011 10:22:54 AM PDT
I collect broadway souvenir programs and playbills as a personal hobby. I am not a reseller. I plan to leave my collection to the high school of performing arts here and the Houston library. I am very interested in what you have, so we might be able to work out something mutually beneficial to both of us. I would really like to grow my collection before I turn it over to the young people. I hope you will contact me soon. Thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2011 10:54:54 AM PDT
Hey, Scott:
Thank you for sending the list of some of your playbills. I appreciate your taking the time to do so. I am a collector of souvenir programs and playbills. I am not a reseller. I am trying to build my collection larger because I am going to leave the collection to the high school for the performing arts here in Houston. Do you have any broadway souvenir programs? Let's try to make a deal that is mutually beneficial to both of us and our future singers, dancers, and actors. Many thanks

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2011 1:03:25 PM PST
Hi Scott,

Are you still interested in Playbills from the 40's?


Posted on Dec 5, 2011 1:33:44 PM PST
I am interested in buying any broadway souvenir programs and playbills anyone may want to get rid of. My primary interest is broadway musicals, original casts if possible, but I am also interested in comedies and dramas, too. I am building a collection to leave to The High School For The Performing Arts and the Public Library here in town. If anyone wants to help in this endeavor, please email me at I will appreciate hearing from you. Thanks.

Posted on Dec 5, 2011 11:45:49 PM PST
Ebay....after that, do what my mom did...she ripped off the cover and actor's page and kept just those. It depends if you want a basic memory or to collect the whole playbill. If you collect, you can't remove a word. There are people who collect each cast, each month of a show. This is from a couple of my listings: WHAT IS AN OPENING NIGHT PLAYBILL?A discussion. Perhaps for purists only. Thanks to two eBayers who provided input on this subject, one who works at the Hilton Theater. Happy to hear others' thoughts.

A playbill from the opening night has a banner printed over the title page with the date of the opening night. Playbills on opening night may, though rarely, have an "official" opening night sticker on the cover. There was no such sticker added to the Young Frankenstein playbill. The Young Frankenstein opening night playbill was still being given out by the Hilton Theater during the entire first week. Yes, it is the playbill that was used at the opening night. No, it may or may not have been given out at the opening night performance. Thus, is a playbill with the banner given out on a day other than November 8 still the opening night playbill? You decide.

Subsequent playbills no longer had the date banner over the title page. Instead, the date of the show's opening is noted in smaller print above the listing for the show staff. This is standard for all shows. On Friday night, November 16th, the Hilton Theater still had both playbills in circulation. Thus, 8 days after opening night, some audience members were given the opening night playbill. sells opening night playbills that have a sticker. They can be found in the Playbill Store and are called "Limited Edition Official Opening Night Playbill." They also sell one for Young Frankenstein. So my questions now become: Is any playbill with a sticker for a show that never actually used stickers at the theater an "official" anything? Is any playbill with a sticker that has never seen a theater truly an opening night playbill? Mary Poppins, I was told, is one show that paid Playbill to put stickers on the playbills for opening night. It also had the opening night title page banner. Did kosherize those playbills by walking them through the theater lobby for a few seconds on opening night? All for you to decide.

In a similar vein, if you have a mint playbill signed by an actor, you have now rendered that playbill no longer mint. Someone marked on it even if it is an autograph. Thus a playbill with a sticker is also no longer a mint playbill. Right?

Pablo Picasso had some works that he did not sign. A reputable dealer will know. However some dealers forged his signature on the work to reassure buyers that it was "a Picasso," but thus rendering his work other than the way he intended. And so it goes.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2011 4:13:49 AM PST
D. Munhall says:
I have two dozen some from the late thirties in very good [pristine] condition.
Dennis in FL @

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2011 4:13:50 AM PST
D. Munhall says:
I have two dozen some from the late thirties in very good [pristine] condition.
Dennis in FL @

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2011 4:16:31 AM PST
D. Munhall says:
I have about two dozen dome from the thirities including "Harvey" w/ James Stewart all in pristine condition
Dennis in FL @ lets communicate.
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Discussion in:  Broadway forum
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Initial post:  Feb 13, 2010
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