COLLECTING MOVIE POSTERS: An Introduction & Frequently Asked Questions

Most of the posters on this website are more than 30 years old, from a time when cinema advertising material was reserved to cinema owners and not available to the general public. It is only due to the combined efforts of collectors and film enthusiasts alike that enough material has survived to establish and feed a collectors market.

Promotional items for selected films have of course existed long before, but the now omnipresent merchandising, the targeted distribution of collectibles for movies, only started in the 1977 with a single, now landmark, film: STAR WARS. Here’s one example: This large two-panel poster, measuring an impressive 118 x 168 cm (app. 47“ x 66“) was sold in 1978 in department and toy stores in Germany for a price of 4,95 DM, which converts to €2,53 in today‘s currency

It was advertised as nursery decoration. Back then, adults did not dress up their homes with movie posters. The poster was available exclusively in Germany, is now very much in demand by STAR WARS collectors around the world, and sells for hundreds of Euros. At the same time, a series of action figures with STAR WARS characters was offered. Many of these have also become collectors items and now demand high prices. This poster is also a rare example of a  commercial poster that became a desirable collector‘s item.

In the late 1970s, original movie posters were still reserved for cinema owners.

This website focuses on original movie posters pre-1990, when film posters were exclusively made for cinema advertising, used repeatedly and eventually discarded. Or saved by collectors.

In the following chapter I will try to answer a few Frequently Asked Questions.

Helmut Hamm

FAQ About Collecting Movie Posters

1. Why collect Movie Posters? Five Reasons.

First of all, because it's fun! Almost everyone in every country and of every age enjoys watching movies. They have become one of the most dominant forces in both national and international culture. Movie posters are an excellent way to remember and admire the great films of the past. Two: They look great framed on walls. Movie posters can be visually stunning, a snap-shot of the movie in one image equally as attractive as any work of art. Three: they are affordable, a fair number of the posters offered by Galerie are priced between €20 and €100. Four: With people collecting all over the world it is a great hobby for anyone with an interest in film. Finally, movie posters can be a good investment. Since the first major auction at Christie's in 1991, movie posters have stood their ground in major league auctions. Sales results of the regular movie poster auctions held at top auction houses like Heritage and Christies are an obvious proof that the movie poster collecting market is very much alive and kickin'.

2. Are Movie Posters collectable?

In 2005, a private collector paid $690,000 for an original 1927 German poster on the science fiction classic METROPOLIS, a world record that still stands today.  While obviously most posters will never sell for anything near this amount, it shows just how valuable vintage movie posters can become. Popular movie posters for titles like 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', early James Bond titles and 'Star Wars' regularly sell for hundreds and thousands of dollars; the latter movie being just over thirty years old.

3. What makes a Movie Poster collectable?

'Original movie art' materials are produced by movie studios for distribution directly to theatres and/or movie distribution centers. They are printed by a select group of lithographers. These materials are designed, produced and distributed solely as advertising materials. They are to be used for that purpose only and then either returned or destroyed after their use.
These advertising materials are never intended to be given, distributed or sold to the public under any circumstances. They are printed in limited numbers, in accordance with the needs of the theatres and/or movie distribution centers. This makes them harder to get, thus creating the limited supply. Most people regard video posters and poster reproductions as non-collectible, so they are usually of no or very little monetary value.

4. What affects the Price of a Movie Poster?

Numerous factors affect the price of a movie poster and these include: the popularity of the film, the importance of the film, the director, the stars, the condition of the poster, rarity, size, the age of the poster and of course the artwork itself.

5. Where do you get your Posters from?

Galerie acquires posters directly from movie theaters, private collectors and reputable dealers around the world.

6. How do I know these Posters are genuine?

Every poster offered by Galerie (unless explicitly stated) is an original, vintage, theater-used movie poster. These posters were never commercially available and were only printed in the year of their issue. We have been in business since 1996 and we guarantee the authenticity of every single movie poster in our collection. The occasional art print or reproduction is explicitly labeled. As in any other field, it always helps to educate yourself, if you are at all inclined to do so. However, at some point you simply have to trust.

7. Do you buy Movie Posters?

Yes, we do. Yes, we do. Yes, we do. Buying new stock is still the most exciting part in this business. We're always interested in buying vintage quality movie paper from around the world. We buy anything from individual pieces to complete collections. If you have posters and you're considering to sell them, please CONTACT US for a free appraisal.

8. Why are so many of the Posters folded?

A folded poster is not defective or always considered lower in value. Advertising materials released prior to the mid-1980s were usually machine folded and mailed flat to the local movie distributors/exhibitors. A rolled, original US movie poster for 'Casablanca' from 1942 simply does not exist.
Different countries still use different methods of distribution. Most modern American posters are sent to theatres rolled and an unfolded poster from the last twenty years is almost always more valuable than one that has been folded.

9. Which Grading System do you use?

There is no universal grading system in the movie poster hobby, and the different grades within a system may vary considerably by the personal standards of the person or company grading the poster. That said, the following grading terms should merely help to give you a general idea of the condition. Please contact us for a more detailed condition report.

Galerie uses the following grading system:

An unused, unfolded item in perfect condition, with only minimal wear (if any.)

Usually applies to folded, but otherwise mint movie posters or rolled posters with only minimal wear. Posters and lobby cards may have single pinholes in corners.

A used film poster in overall excellent shape, but with minor signs of wear.
May have pinholes, smaller tears, light fading and slight overall wear.

An average, theatre used movie poster.
Several pinholes, tears, fading, tape stains, and/or minor paper loss may occur.

Heavy wear. Item will most likely show heavy fading and/or significant paper loss.
May still be presentable if framed. Items in Good condition are not recommended for the condition conscious collector.

Below average, major defects.

Unless it is an extremely desirable title, we don't sell items in this condition.

10. What does 'Re-Release', 'Advance' or 'Doublesided' mean?

A re-release means that the poster was printed when the film was re-released. After its initial release in 199, 'Gone with the Wind has been released' has been re-released  about a dozen times in the US alone, so there are about twelve or thirteen different versions of the poster. Obviously the first issue is usually the most valuable but often the poster art is more definitive in defining value than the year alone.
An 'advance' or 'teaser advance' is a poster that is released before the film shows. It often has 'coming soon' or the date of release printed on the poster.Since c. 1990 many posters have been printed double-sided which allows them to be placed on light boxes in cinemas. These posters are rarer than their singlesided counterparts and hence very collectable.

11. What does 'Linenbacking' or 'Paperbacking' mean?

Some of the film posters offered on this site are described as 'linenbacked' or 'paperbacked'. Linen- and paperbacking are techniques used to restore and archivally protect posters. The process also diminishes the appearance of the fold lines evident in many posters.Here's how linenbacking works: The poster is affixed to archival paper which is then put on linen (actually, cotton canvas is more commonly used these days) and sometimes stiff paper stock is used instead of canvas. The process is archivally sound and reversible. Strictly non-acidic materials are used, and as part of the backing process the poster is de-acified, thus stopping the natural decay of the paper stock and preserving the poster for generations to come. Also, professional restoration can vastly improve the appearance of a movie poster. This procedure is internationally accepted, it is used by collectors, auction houses and archives worldwide.
We offer linenbacking and paperbacking as a customer service, please inquire for details.

12. Do you offer a Framing Service?

We do. For a small surcharge, a framing service is available for local clients. We're also happy to recommend a high quality, trustworthy framer. A piece of general advice regarding framing: If you want to do the framing yourself, in most cases, a slim black or silver frame bar should work fine. Standard sizes save a lot of money, but some internet vendors offer custom frames at very reasonable prices.
Working with a local shop will give you unlimited options, but especially if you find yourself drawn to high-grade frame bars and museum-style glass, the project can become quite expensive. On the other, a matching frame can dramatically increase the display the display value of a poster.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad apples in the framing business. When choosing a framer, my general advice is this: Politely ask about 'Conservation Framing'. Any framer worth his or her money should be able and willing to explain this to you. If you feel you are drawing a blank on this subject: Walk away and find somebody else.

13. Why are they all different Sizes?

Every country has different poster formats. Most countries have some variant of the 'one-sheet' format which usually measures around 69x104 cm (27x41 in). These posters are the most collectable but you should also keep an eye out for other sizes which are also produced for more unique purposes such as subway stations, movie theatre lobbies and advertising billboards. These sizes were usually printed in much lower quantities and are therefore considerably rarer.The sizes of the posters can be found in the item descriptions. Sizes and designations differ according to their country of origin such as the A1 (Germany), One-Sheet, Halfsheet and Insert (USA), B2 and B1 (Japan), British Quad (Britain), or Daybill (Australia). An exception to the one-sheet size rule are France and Italy. These countries traditionally have rather large movie posters, a standard French Affiche measures app. 120x160 cm (47x63 in), the Italian Due-Folio and Quattro-Folio measure 100x140 cm (39x55 in) and 140x200 cm (55x79 in) respectively.

14. How do I preserve a Movie Poster?

Framing can help to preserve a movie poster but there are other factors to consider. Ideally they should be placed out of direct sunlight to avoid fading. In places with excessive humidity the paper can be affected if the frame is loosely fitted. If you have a large collection both in size and quantity, you may want to invest in flat file drawers.  They can be purchased in most larger art supply stores. Linen and paper backing are techniques used to restore and archivally protect posters.  More information about linenbacking and paperbacking can be found elsewhere on this page.

15. Do you sell Movie Poster Reproductions?

This website exclusively deals in original movie posters, the occasional art print or reproduction are explicitly labeled. Galerie specializes in original vintage movie posters. Dealers for art prints and movie poster reproductions can be found elsewhere on the web. With very few exceptions, reproduction posters are not considered collectible.

Just in case, if you want to discuss a possible purchase, consider selling your collection or individual posters, or if any other questions or concerns arise, please drop us a message or give us a call. We will be glad to assist you!

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