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Becoming a poster collector

Becoming a poster collector

To collect posters as an investment, or hobby, one should know a bit of the history associated with these pieces of paper that are now valued so much. The information given here is by no means complete, and is for the most part, general. To learn more about specific aspects of the history of movie posters, there are the occasional poster books out there and best of all, the knowledge collectors and dealers have gathered over the years.

Before the early eighties, posters were printed in limited quantities, usually in some multiple of the number of theaters expected to screen a film at the time of release, and then at various re-releases. The number of posters printed would vary by title, and with each decade that we go back, the numbers decrease. The huge volumes of paper destroyed during the WWII effort, along with the fact that print numbers were already low in those years, make posters printed prior to that period especially rare. In addition to the scarcity of the older posters, various poster production processes such as the stone lithograph associated with that era have pretty much disappeared, much to the dismay of many collectors.

Posters were printed in multiple sizes until approximately 12 years ago. Since then the industry has limited itself almost exclusively to the one-sheet. In the earlier years the one-sheet was printed in the largest quantities, followed by half-sheets, inserts and three-sheets. The 30x40 and 40x60 silkscreen heavy stock posters are even more rare, for they were printed in very limited quantities. Billboards and six-sheets were commonly destroyed and are extremely scarce today. Going back decade by decade, as the print number for each title decreases, the rarity of the posters increases.

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