Movies Way Back When: Problem on a Movie Set

Movies Way Back When: Problem on a Movie Set title=
Image: Movies & Million Dollar Mansions, Betsy J. Green, 2022
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By Betsy J. Green

In a recent conversation with Elizabeth Stewart, fine art and antique appraiser, she mentioned that a photo from the 1913 “Flying A” silent movie “In the Days of Trajan,” which was set in Ancient Rome, had a prop that was all wrong in a couple of ways.

For starters, the stone sculpture is a baptismal font, a fact that I did not know. Stewart explained, "There were NO baptismal fonts in Classical era Rome. That is a European medieval invention really, used inside of a CHURCH. The design on the picture . . . is in the Classical style . . . That would put it in the Renaissance Revival era, which is the third quarter of the 19th century."

Stewart added, "For some reason, Montecito mansion owners LOVED to pillage European stone repositories. Was big business. Every garden had at least one font, and prob a few wells from town squares in France or Italy from the seventeenth century."

"In the Days of Trajan" was filmed at several Montecito estates belonging to the Gillespie, Graham, and Gould families. Fess up! Does anyone have this item in their garden?

(HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME! October marks the 9th year that I have been posting on Edhat – since 2013.)

Betsy's Way Back When book -- Movies & Million-Dollar Mansions -- is now available in local bookstores and at This is the seventh book in her series on the history of Santa Barbara. Learn more at​.

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