Walter Barnsdale's Electric Moving Pictures

Posters and Ephemera

Image Description

Title: Prison Bars

Date: 1901

Size: Stone lithographic 1 sheet poster, 28 x 42 inches

Description: This poster was printed by the Russel Morgan Lithographic Company and is dated 1901. It features a beautiful image of a female prisoner.

The film was supposedly produced by Walter Barnsdale using material he filmed in the Wisconsin state prison. It is likely that the production was a mix of photographic slides and film, all taken by Barnsdale.

Reference: eBay August 2009.

Title: 10 Nights in a Bar-room

Date: 1901

Size: Stone lithographic 3 sheet poster, approximately 27 x 81 inches

Description: This rather sensational poster features a moving picture presentation cited as produced by Barnsdale for showing to prisoners. The early date and the content of the poster suggest to this author that it was not a Barnsdale production and may in fact refer to a later feature.

Reference: eMovieposters 1997.

[No image]

Title: 10 Nights in a Bar-room

Date: 1901

Size: 7 lobby cards

Description: This movie has been cited as produced by Barnsdale for showing to prisoners.

Reference: eMovieposters 1998.

Title: Barnsdale Presents Life Behind the Bars

Date: 1903

Size: Stone lithographic half sheet poster, approx 22 x 28 inches

Description: Printed by American Showprint Company. A number of posters associated with Walter Barnsdale were printed by this firm.

Reference: eBay August 2009.

[No image]

Title: Barnsdale Presents Life Behind the Bars

Date: 1903

Size: program booklet

Description: A one page courier/program that Barnsdale had printed for his prison films including Life Behind The Bars. Barnsdale explains in it that he made a deal with the state prison to show the prisoners films for the right to photograph them and document prison life.

Reference: eBay August 2009.

Title: Oberammergau - The Passion Play

Date: circa 1903

Size: Broadside poster, 24 x 35 inches

Description: A text only poster, outlining the contents of The Passion Play feature program. The Passion Play of Oberammergau is accredited with being produced in 1898, though a number of variants subsequently appeared due to its popularity. it typically comprised over twenty separate pieces of film and various coloured lantern slides. By 1903 it may have included more film elements. It is unclear whether Barnsdale merely presented this feature or also included some of his own locally shot footage.

Reference: eBay August 2009.

[No image]

Title: The Life of Christ - The Passion Play

Date: circa 1903

Size: program booklet

Description: Barnsdale made his own program for The Passion Play aka The Life of Christ. It is 4 pages long and slightly larger than the Buffalo Bill program from 1912. It contains many pictures and the cover artwork is similar to The Life of Christ poster (below).

Reference: eBay August 2009.

Title: The Life of Christ

Date: 1903

Size: Half sheet poster, approximately 22 x 28 inches

Description: It is possible that this poster, by the Hennegan Showprint Company, was printed earlier. Hennegan Show Print in Cincinnati was the lithography house used by Thomas Edison for his first programs.

Reference: eBay August 2009.

Title: The Life of Christ

Date: circa 1903

Size: Half sheet poster, approximately 22 x 28 inches

Description: This poster is for the same movie as above, which is cited by some as the first docudrama ever made. This poster was printed by the Hennegan Showprint Company.

Reference: eBay August 2009.

Title: Life for Life

Date: 1904

Size: One sheet poster, 28 x 42 inches

Description: Life for Life is a 1904 religious morality melodrama. The rather dramatic imagery of the poster also features the titles "Go and sin no more" and "Friends in death", presenting elements of the film as shown . According to the eMovieposters website, this was one of the movies made by Barnsdale. This poster is dated 1904 and it has a litho mark from the American Show Print Company in the bottom right corner. Apparently, the top border of the poster was where show times could be written in, much like with window cards.

Reference: eMovieposters 2009.

Title: Barnsdale's Moving Pictures

Date: 1905 [1920]

Size: One sheet poster, 27 x 41 inches.

Description: High quality generic poster showing the image of a hobo / clown on the road, with a large banner reference to Barnsdale. There is some discrepancy over the age of this poster, it variously being dated 1905 or 1920.

Reference: eMovieposters 1997 - therein dated 1905; Heritage Auctions sale 601, 16 March 2004; eMovieposters 2006, therein dated 1920.

Title: Barnsdale's Viveorama

Date: circa 1907

Size: Half sheet poster, approximately 22 x 28 inches

Description: Broadsheet text only poster.

Reference: eBay August 2009.

Title: Defence of the Cameron Dam by John Deitz

Date: 1912

Size: Broadside poster, 24 x 35 inches

Description: In 1912 Eastman Kodak of New York sent filmmakers to Wisconsin to film the story of John F. Dietz. In 1904, Deitz and his family purchased a farmstead on the Thornapple River. Deitz soon discovered that Cameron Dam - one of many logging dams on this important tributary of the Chippewa River - lay on his property. He thereupon claimed that the Chippewa Lumber & Boom Co., a Weyerhaeuser affiliate, owed him a toll for logs driven downriver. For four years he refused to permit logs to be sluiced down the Thornapple, defending "his" dam at gunpoint and successfully resisting attempts to arrest him. At least one deputy and two of Deitz's children were wounded in confrontations. In becoming an outlaw, Deitz also became a folk hero with a nationwide following. In October 1910, a large sheriff's posse surrounded his house. In the ensuing gun battle, Oscar Harp, a deputy, was killed. John Deitz surrendered, stood trial for murder, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He served 10 years, but public pressure eventually convinced Governor John J. Blain to pardon him in May 1921. Deitz died in 1924. It is not known whether this broadside pertains to the film made by Eastman Kodak in 1912, or to another, early item perhaps involving Walter Barnsdale in its production.

Reference: eBay August 2009.

Title: The Life of Buffalo Bill

Date: 1912

Size: Stone lithographic one sheet poster, 28 x 42 inches

Description: This poster was used to advertise this autobiographical documentary film made by Buffalo Bill and starring himself. It depicts a young Cody and champion horse with historic scene behind them. The poster was printed by the Buffalo Bill Pawnee Bill Film Company and has the Barnsdale snipe at the bottom. Exclusive state distribution rights were held by the Barnsdale Moving Picture Company. A copy of the contemporary advertisement for this film is available here.

Reference: eBay August 2009.

Title: The Life of Buffalo Bill

Date: 1912

Size: Stone lithographic one sheet poster, 28 x 41 inches

Description: This poster was used to advertise this autobiographical documentary film made by Buffalo Bill and starring himself. It depicts a young Cody and champion horse with historic scene behind them. The poster was printed by the Buffalo Bill Pawnee Bill Film Company and has the Barnsdale snipe at the bottom. Exclusive state distribution rights were held by the Barnsdale Moving Picture Company.

Reference: Sold at Heritage Auctions, March 2010 for $3107.

Title: Life of Buffalo Bill: actual moving pictures by Cody, himself

Date: [1912]

Size: program booklet, 4 pages

Description: Caption on title - Barnsdale's Moving Pictures, all shown and operated by electricity.

Reference: eBay 2009.

Title: Barnsdale's Famous Electric Moving Pictures

Date: 1912

Size: Broadside poster, 24 x 36 inches

Description: This poster is representative of the "broadside" style of poster common to the late 1800s and the early 1910s, featuring a text style announcement.

Reference: eBay August 2009.

Site last updated: 22 March 2010. Return to Michael Organ's Home Page. Any comments, corrections, or additions to this site are most welcome.