Movie Poster Collection Guide

With the popularity of movies today, there has been an increase in the demand for movie posters. Collectors should research the market before making purchases.

Movie Poster Collection Guide

Movie posters have seen an increase in popularity and demand in recent years. However, before starting your own collection, you should research the types of movie art available. You will also want to learn how a poster is graded and what factors affect the price. A little research beforehand will give you an overview of the market and a general idea of what to spend. Although there are no set rules for collecting, many collectors choose to purchase only posters that are considered to be legitimate theatre art. These are posters that are produced by film studios and sent to theatres to use for advertising. When the advertising campaign for the film is over, the posters are usually destroyed or returned to the film studio. The fact that these posters are not mass-produced and sold to the general public makes them highly sought after by collectors.

What to Collect?

If you are a novice collector, it is easier to start out collecting posters from a specific category. You might prefer to collect posters from only one genre such as science fiction. Many people collect posters of their favorite actor or actress. Foreign film posters are also a popular collectible. Collecting from a specific category will enable you to become knowledgeable in a specialized area rather than trying to learn everything about movie posters at once. The more you know about the item, the less likely you are to purchase a fake or reproduction. Although some people choose to collect reproduction or reissued posters, you should at least know what you are paying for. With the advanced technology of computers today, there has been an increase in the production of fake posters. Collectors should beware of dealers selling "authentic posters". Novice collectors are often confused by this term and mistakingly think they are purchasing an original poster.

Movie posters can be printed on either paper or card stock. Card stock posters are heavier and more rigid than paper posters. Paper posters vary in size from a one sheet poster which measures 27" x 41" to a twenty-four sheet that measures 246" x 108". Overall, posters printed on card stock are smaller than those printed on paper. Lobby cards are a popular item that is printed on card stock. Lobby cards come in different sizes but most will contain a set of eight cards. In the set there will be a title card, some scene cards, and often one "dead card". A dead card is a term given to a card that contains no images of the actors or actresses. A dead card has the least value of the cards in a set. Lobby cards are no longer produced for advertising in the United States.

Press materials also contain many items that are in demand. Press or campaign kits will contain a press book. A press book will have the cast listing and credits, a short description of the movie, and often a biography of the main actors or actresses. Other common items in a press kit include: ad slicks, buttons, slides, stills, and pins. An ad slick or ad sheet is a set of black and white ads sent to the theatre to be used mainly for advertising in newspapers.

Grading the Condition of a Poster

The most popular grading system for posters ranks their condition into one of six grades.


Near Mint

Very Good




A poster is examined for the following defects:

Tears- tears in the image will reduce value but are often repairable if not much paper from the poster is lost.

Holes- usually caused by pins or tacks.

Tape Stains- if tape used to display the poster was left intact; it can cause a stain mark over time.

Fading- posters will naturally fade some over time but if properly stored away from direct sunlight, they should have little noticeable wear.


Folds or Fold Lines- nearly all posters printed before 1980 will contain a fold line from mailing. If your poster has a fold line other than that incurred from mailing, it is considered a defect. It is common practice today to mail posters in cardboard tubes.

Bleedthroughs- ink on the back of the poster that is visible from the front side.


Trimming- you should never trim a poster in order to fit it into a frame. Any changes you make to a poster are likely to decrease its value.

A poster is rated by the amount of defects, if any, that it contains. A blemish or defect on the white border area surrounding the poster usually does not affect the value. You should be concerned about imperfections in the artwork itself.

How Much Should You Spend?

While the price of a poster is often determined by the market demand in a given area, the buyer always must decide an items value before making a purchase. If you are seeking a certain poster, it helps to research what the item or similar item has sold for in the past. You will also want to consider the items rarity, uniqueness, and general condition. Posters that have a linen-backing are more valuable because they are sturdier. Posters designed by a popular artist or producer often have added value.

It is a good idea to seek out an honest reputable dealer first and then inform them of the type of posters you are interested in.

Collecting movie posters can be an enjoyable and rewarding hobby. Movies are a very popular pastime today and this likely increases the number of collectors. Like any other type of collecting though, it is best to research the product first.

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