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Perhaps you’ve discovered a trove of original vintage movie posters on sale at a local flea market. Maybe you've received a Jaws or Star Wars movie poster as a gift, or seen a Saul Bass silkscreen that you like online. Or you could just be a fan of James Bond, science fiction, or horror films and want to own a piece of screen history. In any case, if you think you've found an authentic original vintage movie poster, chances are it has some value. But...

What determines whether a movie poster is the real-deal or simply a cheap reproduction?


In Film/Art Gallery's Ultimate Guide to Vintage Movie Posters we'll guide you every step of the way to begin collecting, growing and preserving your very own original vintage movie poster collection.


Let's get started...

PART ONE:

BEGINNERS

In the section below, we’ll give you the answers to some of the most important questions about vintage movie posters, covering:

vin.tage mov.ie post.ers

[ vin(t)ij / moovē /pōstərs ] • plural noun

  1. Come in a range of styles, sizes and designs from all over the world.
  2. It’s easy to find reproductions online, but a true vintage movie poster is any authentic promotional poster distributed to advertise a film during its original release.
  3. Vintage movie posters are usually printed on paper or card-stock.

3 MOST IMPORTANT

FACTORS:

Photo 1. TITLE

The most significant factor in the valuation of a movie poster is the film itself. Cinema classics such as Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Singin’ in the Rain, Psycho and Some Like it Hot have long been highly prized by poster collectors. But with every new generation of moviegoers come new favorites and in the past few decades more contemporary titles such as the Star Wars franchise, Back to the Future and Pulp Fiction have become widely collected.

Photo 2. SHAPE & SIZE

U.S. SIZES:

INTERNATIONAL SIZES:

Photo 3. STYLE & DESIGN

Vintage film posters are not just collected based on interest in a particular motion picture, but also for their value as limited edition pieces of art. Many of the world's leading graphic designers, artists, illustrators, photographers and copywriters have worked in film poster design, and in many cases the most striking and collectible movie poster images were created in Europe and Asia.

Some of the more popular international posters come from:

Legendary designer Saul Bass created movie posters for some of the most iconic films of all time including Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Vertigo & Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder.

Film/Art Gallery, located in the heart of Hollywood, holds the world’s largest collection of Saul Bass vintage movie posters including rare silkscreen prints. The Saul Bass Archive can be viewed at filmartgallery.com/sba

ASSESSING

CONDITION

Film posters weren’t designed to stand the test of time. They were made cheaply for theatres as disposable advertising materials and rarely handled as expensive movie collectibles. Many original posters have been folded, stapled, pinned, taped, written on and generally handled poorly.

Understanding the condition of a poster is essential in assessing its value and how to best preserve it.

Once you assess the condition of a vintage movie poster, it can be graded on a sliding scale, known as the '9-Grade System'. The system grades posters as:

photo

Assessing the condition of vintage original movie posters can be tricky business, especially to the untrained eye.

It’s a subjective process and opinions may differ between collectors as to whether a poster should be graded as ‘FINE’ or ‘VERY FINE’. At the end of the day it comes down to the individual person.

SOME OF THE MORE COMMON BLEMISHES/DEFECTS THAT ARE ASSESSED WHEN GRADING A POSTER ARE:



THE BASICS OF

STORAGE & PRESERVATION



For folded movie posters, plastic or acid-neutral paper sleeves that can keep out moisture are the most effective method of storing movie posters not on display. For unfolded or rolled posters, either a flat-file storage system or a solid cardboard tube is the most effective method.

Vintage movie posters that require restoration or preservation can undergo a process called linen-backing (although this process originally utilized a thin European linen, current methods use a sturdier cotton canvas). In this process, the damaged poster is mounted to acid free paper and canvas that allows it to be easily handled, stored or framed. During the linen-backing, the poster is flattened and folds, tears and paper loss are restored. Color loss can also be restored with pencil or watercolor paint.

Click here to learn more about the linen-backing process.

It is vital that movie posters are kept in a cool, dry environment, out of direct sunlight.

DETERMINING POSTER

VALUE

Like many other collectibles, the condition and rarity of a movie poster have a significant impact on the value - as does the popularity of the film and the poster's design. While more common or poor quality posters may be worth little-to-nothing, the most sought-after posters can command prices that reach into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Photo

It's also important to remember that historically, film posters were not produced to be bought, sold, collected or saved. They were often printed on low quality paper, typically pasted or hung during a film's original release and then discarded or lost to the ravages of time. For this reason, the oldest posters tend to be the rarest, and in many cases the most valuable.

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COMING SOON:

PART 2:

THE INTERMEDIATE GUIDE TO VINTAGE MOVIE POSTERS

  • • How can I preserve my vintage movie poster?
  • • Where can I source vintage movie posters?
  • • How do I authenticate my vintage movie poster?

PART 3:

THE ADVANCED GUIDE TO VINTAGE MOVIE POSTERS

  • • How do start and grow my movie poster collection?
  • • How do I price, buy and sell vintage movie posters?
  • • What is the ‘point of view’ of my movie poster collection?