There’s a great deal of history behind movie posters and movie poster collecting. By the end of this first decade of the 1900’s, movies had become a fantastic source of public amusement. Within this period of time, the movie poster would become a standard size called the one sheet measuring 27″ x 41″.
In the early days, the names of actors did not appear on the posters, which the movie studios liked, because it meant paying actors less money. It was in this early period in movie history, however, that movie studios realized movie stars were as much of an attraction to the moviegoer as the movie itself. Thus, the movie star was born, and movie posters began showcasing actors’ names along with the title of the film.
By the 1920’s, the golden age of silent movies, movie posters became more artistic and spectacular, with accomplished artists being hired by movie studios to paint portraits of the stars for posters. From the late 1920’s, movie poster images became sharper due to a new printing process developed by the Morgan Litho Company.
In the 1930’s, also known in the movie industry as”The Golden Age of Movies”, another style of movie poster was created, the half sheet. Important movies would sometimes get more than the 2 styles. But, as a result of depression, many movie materials were being created more cheaply, causing a loss of quality in movie posters.
The dawn of World War II in 1941 saw many of the movie stars heading off to war and war was the significant theme of movies at that time.
By the 1970’s, movie posters used photography, occasionally using drawing and painting styles. Movie posters at this time were being published on a clay-coated paper, which gave them a glossy finish. Star Wars and Star Trek posters were the most well-known posters of the time and are still collected by many today.
From the 1980’s, the age of the special effects blockbuster, the mini sheet was invented, and video stores became popular, thus the video store poster was created. Today, reprints of movie posters are mass-produced and sold in many stores or are just a click away on the Internet.There are several types of movie posters. Due to their rarity, the avid movie poster collector has concentrated on movie poster or theater art. These are the images that are delivered and displayed by the movie theaters and then meant to be thrown off. Another kind of movie poster is the commercial poster, which is mass-produced for immediate sale to the public. Video posters are distributed to video rental stores for advertising material. Cable and TV posters are use as promotional material for TV stations for their programming. Like theater art, video posters and cable and TV posters aren’t produced for the public. Though not as valuable as theater art, these types of posters are still popular with collectors. Special promotion posters promote a movie along with a product. Other types of movie posters include advance posters that promote a movie well before the movie’s release. The award poster, which indicates that a movie has won an Academy award. The combo poster, advertising two movies instead of just one. The popular double-sided poster that has art on both sides, with the artwork reversed on one side of the poster. There are featurette posters highlighting short films or cartoons, review posters for when a movie gets a fantastic review, serial posters for movie serials, and special distribution posters.
With the popularity of movie posters has come the necessity to create various sizes of posters. The first and most widely used poster is the one sheet, which is usually 27″ x 41″. The subway, also known as the two sheet, is larger but not exactly two times the size of this one sheet. The 3 sheet is three times the size of the 1 sheet measuring at 41″ x 81″. The 6 sheet is six times the size of the one sheet measuring of 81″ x 81″. There is also a 12 sheet approximately twelve times the size of a one sheet, and the colossal sized 24 sheet measuring 246″ x by 108″. Other sizes include the mini sheet, which is usually considerably smaller than the one sheet and comes in an assortment of sizes, and the stock sheet issued for cartoons or other shorts.
As with all collectibles, condition is a great element when placing a value on posters. Poster collectors use the same grade system used by comic book collectors: mint (perfect), near mint, very good, good, fair, and poor.
For people who want to be serious movie poster collectors, you’ll have to understand some things about caring for your movie poster artwork.
Tips to retain the total collectable value of movie posters
Never alter the appearance of a poster. Do not fold, bend, tear, or punch holes in it even to hang it on your wall.
Never place a movie poster in direct sunshine. UV lights can also be detrimental.
Do not write on your poster, even on the back. Marks on the back can sometimes be seen from the other side, taking away from the poster’s value.
Never put tape on the front of a poster even to repair tears. Should you use tape, use acid free tape available from an art supply shop, and place the tape on your back. For expensive movie art take it to a professional to be restored. Posters can be restored the same way rare comic books are professionally restored.
When shipping posters use thick poster tubes or bubble envelopes.
For long time storage, frame, or place the poster in a plastic bag or tube, and keep it in a cool dry climate.