What's So Important About Original?

Something very important to me personally and part of the reason this business was founded, is the value of originals. To me, an original has endless value - the smell, the weight, the feel of the piece. Knowing that this individual poster is a part of history, has been around in many cases, much longer than I've been alive. To think that a poster has been there, during an era when this movie or this album came out is a wonderful thought. The way it is printed, the technique, the colours, you can tell almost immediately - this is something that won't be made again. To me, a number of factors determine the true value of a poster, or a piece of art, none of them are bigger than the feeling that it gives you. 

For more information on the value of original posters, below is an extract from a wonderfully informative article from Aproposter.

What factors determine the value of an original classic poster?

If you want to buy an original poster, you are certainly wondering whether the price asked by the seller is appropriate for the given poster. Often it is tricky to estimate the poster value and various aspects must be considered.

Typically, the following seven factors have an impact on the poster value:

Original, reprint, or reproduction: only original posters by the original poster artist are valuable. A poster is an original if it was printed in the first printing run. Later official reprints may also have some value, but typically they are significantly less worth than the original poster. Reproductions of a poster have no monetary value.


Condition: classic posters are graded from Mint to Poor. The better the condition, the more valuable is a poster. However, a very rare poster may achieve a high price even in poor condition. The condition of a poster can significantly impact its value and the difference can easily be several thousand dollars.


Rarity: the rarity of a poster is an important, though hard to assess factor. For most posters, no one really knows how many originals still exist. Posters printed with the process of stone lithography were mostly printed in runs of up to 3,000, most of which were destroyed when torn from the wall. Furthermore, museums and collectors may permanently take away a poster from the market, making most classic posters even rarer over time.

Printing method: old vintage posters were printed using the process of stone lithography. Stone lithography is a very difficult, time and work intense process resulting in vibrant colors. After World War II, offset and silkscreen printing replaced the stone lithography. Typically, older posters printed by using the stone lithography process are of higher value than the newer posters. Though, there are also some offset or silkscreen posters achieving high prices.

Poster artist: posters of the most famous poster artists, such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Mucha, Cappiello, AM Cassandre, etc., almost always have a high poster value and achieve notable prices in auctions.

Poster subject: the subject has a significant impact on the demand for a given poster. Travel, winter sports, automobile, and ocean liner posters are typically very popular and, therefore, are often more valuable.

Conservation: posters on the market today are mostly mounted on linen or rice paper for conservation purposes. Conservation must not harm the original poster and must be fully reversible. Non-conservation techniques or restoration that is not reversible may significantly impact the value of an original poster. 

As you may imagine, appraising a poster is a difficult task and requires a lot of experience. Therefore, it is recommendable consulting a reputable expert for the poster appraisal. 

Movie poster value

What determines the value of an original movie poster?

For film posters, the value is also determined by a combination of factors, the most important factor being the title of the film. The most coveted posters are those from the most popular films such as Wizard of Oz, Casablanca or Dracula. The Dracula poster from 1931 was sold for USD 525,800 in November 2017.

The second decisive factor for attractiveness are the graphics on the poster. Often the title of a movie poster is not that important, but the poster design can be beautiful. 

After all, the condition is of great importance. These three factors are usually the most important elements for determining the value of a movie poster.

From which period are the most expensive movie posters?

Movie posters from the early 1910s to the 1950s usually have the highest value. Some posters from the 1960s also achieve good prices, but the value of posters from the 1970s to the present is drastically impacted by the much larger print runs making them easier to find and lesser of a rarity. Another important factor is that movie posters were rarelly collected until the 1970s. From the beginnings to the 1960s, most of the posters were simply thrown away after the film was no longer shown in the theaters.

Movie poster of which film genres achieve the highest values?

The top horror and science fiction film titles have always achieved the highest prices and continue to do so today. Other genres and stars of high value include Film Noir, the Marx Brothers, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Douglas Fairbanks, early Walt Disney cartoons and other classic animations, and Alfred Hitchcock.

Poster condition and grading systems

For all original posters the condition is of great importance for the value. Restorations or tears are generally only acceptable in marginal areas. The motif itself should always be fully intact. The rarer a poster, the more compromises regarding the condition are often made by collectors. A poster should never be mounted on cardboard or canvas, otherwise, it is generally worthless. 

The most common defects of a poster are bleed-throughs, creases, fading, holes, marks, see-throughs, stains, tape, tears, trimming, and wrinkles. Be aware that assessing the condition of a poster can be very subjective and different people may come to a deviating conclusion when determining the condition of a poster.

There are different grading systems used by dealers and collectors to determine the condition of a poster. In addition, the grade systems are often not consistently applied, which can make it difficult for a beginner to understand the condition of a poster without having seen it.