Collecting movie posters

Hi Paul, I've noticed a lot of news on movie posters on the site recently and I've just unearthed an old collection at my father's house. I'm sure they aren't worth much, but how do I tell if they are collectible? - Janet, Portland OR

There certainly have been some remarkable sales in the movie poster world recently, with the Metropolis movie poster collection selling for $1.2m earlier this month and one of the most important James Bond poster collections ever seen selling on December 16.

This is a collecting area entirely separate from movie memorabilia and one that can be extremely rewarding. When identifying your collection, there is only really one question you need to ask yourself:

Was this poster produced by a studio as an advertisement or was it meant to be sold to the public?

King Kong movie poster auction Style B three sheet
Generally, the older and more popular the movie, the better

If your answer is the former of these choices, then you could be on to a good thing. Collectible movie posters are the ones that were printed and designed by the film studio for distribution to cinemas. Reprints and those intended for retail are not produced in limited quantities and therefore, have very little value.

Generally speaking, the older and more popular the film, the more valuable your poster will be. For example, original King Kong posters are extremely popular and often sell for hundreds of thousands at auction (one sold for $388,375 at Heritage Auctions at the start of December).

That said, there are a number of factors to consider, such as condition, aesthetics and provenance - all of which are vital when it comes to poster collecting. Then of course there are limited editions, anniversary releases and lobby cards, but I'll leave those for you to discover.

It's important to remember that not all movie posters are the same, with a range of different shapes, sizes and paper types that will all affect the final value. This also varies from country to country, and the US will often have different sizes available to those in the UK and Europe. There is plenty of information online about this, which can be found on any of the dedicated sites.

Overall, if it's a well-preserved collection and it fulfils the criteria set out above, I'd say you have something worth investigating. Remember, movie posters are easily damaged and condition is key when it comes to selling - a visit to a professional restorer may be worthwhile.

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