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History and Collectability

History and Collectability

Vintage movie posters are valuable collectables today but ironically they were never intended to be collected. These were advertising tools designed to create interest and entice audiences to movie houses during the screening of a film. They were printed in limited numbers and sent out to theatres to be returned at the end of a film's run, most were subsequently destroyed.

It was only years later when theatre owners started to ignore the return policies of the studios and kept the posters, which is how these artefacts escaped destruction. These old posters – tangible memories of our favourite films and stars – have over the years been bought by dealers and collectors resulting in a huge market.

Auction houses such as Christie and Sotheby's regularly auction posters at ever increasing prices to people who buy them for investment or simply as decorative art. The record price achieved for a film poster to date is $478,000 for London After Midnight (1927), making it an extremely good investment for the owner!

In general, we can say there are three characteristics that could make a poster collectable and desirable:

  • If they are from the Classic Films genre, like King Kong, Casablanca, Frankenstein, Dracula, Citizen Kane, The Wizard of Oz, etc.
  • If they have Major Stars on the poster such as Humphrey Bogart, Charlie Chaplin, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, etc.
  • If they have Good Design by well know artists such as Saul Bass, Reynold Brown, Tom Chantrell, Bob Peak, or Ercole Brini to name a few.
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