Prison Bars

Walter Barnsdale (director, producer, screenwriter)

Wisconsin: Walter Barnsdale, 1901. Vintage US one sheet lithographic poster for the 1901 documentary film short.

One of the earliest silent documentary film shorts, created by early Wisconsin film pioneer Walter Barnsdale, who traveled around the state screening some of the first films ever made, including "Prison Bars," a film featuring the Wright Brothers, and a Western starring sharpshooter Buffalo Bill. Touring with an electronic lamp house and a portable gasoline-powered electric power supply of his own invention, he found great success with his traveling show until stationery theaters made his business model obsolete in 1917. From a nearly-forgotten era of film history, his name, innovations, and films have largely been lost.

Set in Wisconsin's Waupun Prison and shot there on location, where Barnsdale had arranged to film the lives of inmates in exchange for screening entertainment for the them. An especially bright, attractive copy of this piece of early film history, and an uncommonly detailed artifact from the height of stone lithography poster advertisements. One of the earliest documentary motion picture ads we have ever seen, in remarkable condition. Created by the US Lithograph Company Russel-Morgan Print.

42 x 28 inches, rolled. Two light creases, else Fine.

[Book #142546]