ABOUT MOVIE POSTER ART GALLERY and COLLECTING VINTAGE POSTERS.
A BIT ABOUT OUR HISTORYWe began our vintage paper odyssey in Islington's Camden Passage in 1993 with one of the first outlets in London dedicated to selling purely vintage and original movie posters and lobby cards.
In 1997, Movie Poster Art Gallery opened in London's West End to introduce this wonderful material to a much wider public than had previously been catered for.
In 2002 we moved to our new gallery at 1 Colville Place London W1 where 2006 saw the ground breaking and highly acclaimed exhibition 'Rock Explosion!' which introduced our ongoing selection of vintage original rock and pop posters.
ABOUT VINTAGE FILM POSTERSThe key fact to remember about original film posters is that from the earliest days up to at least the 1970's hardly anyone, anywhere considered them worthy of preservation. Collecting film posters in America only began in the late 1960s, and then only amongst a small group of individuals.
World War II and after saw huge quantities of paper recycled; poster distribution warehouses periodically cleared out old material; mice, insects, damp, heat and floods all consumed their share. What has survived worldwide from those many decades is basically the product of luck: discoveries made in old warehouses, empty theatre basements, dusty attics and, crucially, the foresight of a few unconventional individuals. In the U.S., the studios made no serious attempt to preserve or archive their advertising material.
CONDITION AND GRADINGFrom the above it will be apparent that it's unreasonable to expect movie posters to have survived always in 'as new' condition. The purpose they were made for and the lack of interest shown in them for decades ensures this. Nevertheless, good condition is still attainable on many posters. The degree to which this applies will vary from title to title.
There is no one set of condition gradings in use everywhere : auction houses often use (and sometimes abuse!) a simple 'A,B,C' system; in America the C-number comics grading is occasionally - and rather confusingly - used. On our websites you'll find the full version of the most widely accepted film poster grading system:
- EXCELLENT (near mint) - almost flawless
- VERY FINE - some very slight wear e.g. light fold wear, tiny tears or small pinholes
- FINE - slightly more noticeable wear or restoration, but still a copy presenting very well
- VERY GOOD - some more noticeable wear, possibly requiring, or having undergone, a bit more restoration. But at the upper end of this grade posters are very acceptable visually.
- GOOD - more noticeable wear, possibly requiring, or having undergone, a greater degree of restoration.
- FAIR and POOR - in rough or worse condition. Usually acceptable only in cases of exceptional rarity.
Grading is a subjective process, and one person's grading of a poster may not be the same as another's. Nevertheless, this system is widely used and should provide the buyer with a useful yardstick. Always feel free to contact us to get a detailed condition report.
LINEN BACKING, RESTORATION and FRAMINGPrior to 1990, the majority of film posters from around the world were issued folded, and this is not a defect. Linen backing is the most common way of mounting film posters to flatten them out for best display. Linen backing also helps stabilise fragile paper and provides a platform for any restoration work that might be necessary (most folded film posters will require some degree of touch-up to the fold lines, as these are by definition an unavoidably weak area). When done properly linen backing offers a safe, conservation-friendly, reversible way of mounting valuable paper.
Restoration or touch-up work should also ideally be done with reversible materials, and the buyer should be aware that some restorers in the U.S. are able to disguise very serious flaws with 'invisible' overspraying. A small amount of cosmetic work can have merit in some cases, but it is important for the person about to part with a substantial amount of money to be sure that what seems 'near mint', really is 'near mint'.
The same care must be applied to the Framing of collectible paper. Acid-free materials, UV-flitration glazing, and no permanent bonding of the poster to its backing are vital elements of preserving condition and value. We undertake full conservation framing on all items we sell.