Ultra-rare Academy Award for Photography up for auction


posted Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 12:34 PM EST


In 1947, for the third and final time to date, the Oscars offered an award for a very unusual field: still photography. Legendary Hollywood photographer Ernest Bachrach was honored with a medal from the Academy, and this extremely rare piece of film memorabilia is now up for auction.

Bachrach was one of the major photography figures of the golden age of Hollywood, working as the still photographer for dozens of classic pictures, most famously King Kong and Citizen Kane. He was also a well respected portrait photographer, working with the greats of the era.

The award itself is more than just rare—it's something of a peculiarity in and of itself. Bachrach isn't mentioned anywhere in the information about the 1947 Academy Awards, and the piece is obviously a medal rather than the traditional statuette. According to RR Auctions, who have the piece up for sale as part of a larger Hollywood auction, there were only two other such awards: one went to Merritt Sibbald in 1941, and the other to Scotty Welbourne in 1942. They claim:

Bachrach’s medal is unquestionably the most desirable, as he was one of the most prominent Hollywood photographers of the period; today, his work is arguably the most collectible of any of his peers. The other known awards were also sponsored by the Public Relations Institute, while this example was directly presented by the Academy and features the same wording that appears on the famous Oscar statuette.

The medal itself was awarded for Bachrach's work on Crossfire and The Farmer’s Daughter, and is inscribed on the back "Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, First Award to Ernest A. Bachrach For Outstanding Achievement, 1947, Class 10."

This isn't the first time the medal's been up for auction, either. It popped up in 2007, when it appears to have been sold over eBay.

With just a day left on the clock, the auction is already up to more than $19,000—which shows just how rare a piece of memorabilia this actually is.