How To Start a Poster Collection
Collecting posters. Whether it’s horror movies of the 1930s or air travel from the 1950s, vintage posters make for superb pieces of art that thrill the collector with their depictions of a bygone era.
But where to begin? Our How To Start a Poster Collection is a good place.
What to collect? Two of the main areas of poster collecting are vintage film and travel. Yet within these there are a myriad of options. Some collectors seek out ski resort posters, while others concentrate on Pan-Am or a particular railway company.
Then there are other avenues to explore, including political posters or wartime recruiting posters. Others collect particular styles, such as Belle Epoque or Art Deco, or a particular artist (although this isn’t easy as many did not sign their work). Specialising in an area helps maintain your focus and makes the collection that much more appealing to collectors. Attending poster fairs, auctions and special museum exhibits that occur from time to time are all a great to discover what you like and to broaden your knowledge of the subject. Attending auctions also gives you an idea of what constitutes a fair price for a piece – vital for making an informed purchase.
Where to buy posters? The rarest posters tend to be found at major auction houses or dealers. Purchasing through a dealer who provides you with a lifetime guarantee gives you the confidence that the posters you are buying are genuine, as reproductions are extremely common. Poster fairs are another good bet, though do your homework on prices before setting out. For those looking away from the top end of the market, is it possible to find items of interest – in wildly differing conditions – at flea markets or car boot sales.
[![An anti-Vietnam war poster](http://collecting.wdfiles.com/local--files/image:joan-baez-draft-resistance-poster/girlssayyesvietnamposter.jpg)](http://en.wikicollecting.org/image:joan-baez-draft-resistance-poster)
|An anti-Vietnam war poster|
Beware posters of film re-issues: Posters advertising re-issued films are much less valuable than those concerning the original picture. If there is an “R” in front of the date on the poster the film is a re-issue.
Displaying your posters: Long-term care of your posters will help them retain their looks and their value. If you plan to display a poster, framing it behind glass or plastic on acid-free paper will keep dirt and dust away, and prevent degradation. Avoid direct sunlight. The same goes for heat and damp. To maintain in optimum condition, however, posters should be stored flat in an acid-free box and lined with acid free paper. Light items can be stored on top of each other without fear of damage. Again, place in a dark, cool, dry spot. Another option is to roll your posters around a tube that has been lined with acid-free paper. If a poster came to you folded, do not try to flatten it, as this is best left to a professional restorer. Store it in its original folded state instead.
Read about posters: There are several books and online resources which can provide you with a solid understanding of the history of posters, so that you can make an informed decision when you buy. A good knowledge of lithographic techniques, the different artists and styles are beneficial to getting the most out of the hobby.
Join the community: There is a small but growing online community dedicated to poster collecting able to offer advice, and sometimes arrange swaps and sales. Discretion is always advisable.
Take the long view: There are just a limited number of auctions each year with means the rare poster market is somewhat illiquid. However, values are on the rise which means that a profit can be had for those who are patient.
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