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A great mystery about vintage movie posters that has baffled long time collectors for decades!

BruceBruce Member, Captain Movie Poster Posts: 965 ✭✭✭ Daybiller
edited November 30 in Various Thoughts

There is a great mystery about vintage movie posters that has baffled long time collectors for decades, and I doubt that even Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Charlie Chan, Hercule Poirot, or Sam Spade could solve it, either! What is this unsolvable mystery?

It is exactly WHY it is that the pricing of the very best movie posters lags SO far behind that of EVERY other collectible. One by one, EVERY other major collectible has in the last few years (at the latest), first shattered the million dollar mark for the most wonderful item in that hobby, and then, there are not only ones that then sell for two or three million or more, but there are also other "not as wonderful" items that start selling for stratospheric prices as well.

Yet not only has this NOT happened in the movie poster hobby, but we are not even very close. Many of the very highest priced reported sales are often items that later sell for FAR lower amounts of money, and it is still rare to see even a $50,000 or $100,000 poster, and many of the very best ones can still be purchased in the $10,000 to $25,000 range.

IS it "just a matter of time" before movie posters catch up to those other hobbies? There are clear signs it might. The last couple of years have seen some wealthy collectors surface and buy lots of the best of a specific type of poster or other movie paper collectible (in many different areas) and it seems very likely that, even if they are primarily doing so for the love of what they collect, they likely also think these are very undervalued, when compared to top items from other types of collectibles.

Look at it this way. Two million dollars won't get you even ONE of the best items in those other fields, but not only WILL it get you one of the very finest movie posters known to exist, but you would have enough left over to buy an entire amazing collection, maybe hundreds or thousands of great items! And movie paper is now including a lot of items over a century old (making them "antique", rather than "collectible" and in just 21 years EVERY pre-1940 movie paper item will be an antique)!

And this is not just limited to the very best movie posters, but it EVEN MORE applies to more affordable ones! There are LOTS of very enjoyable movie posters (even ones that are 50 or 75 years old) that can be purchased for well under $100, and some are in the $20 to $50 range! Ones that can be displayed on your wall, and which will elicit comments and positive reactions from those who view them. The same can't be said for a coin, stamp, baseball card, or comic book, both because they are too small to be displayed, and because the prices have risen so much that $20, $50, or even $100 doesn't get you very much in those collectible areas!

And only a small segment of the population can relate to comic books, or baseball cards, or the rest, but EVERYONE has favorite movies, and the vast majority of people spent a major portion of their youth watching movies, and in today's world, movies are bigger than ever before! I believe the question is not IF movie paper will catch up to those other fields, but rather WHEN just a small number of the world's top collectors realize how massively undervalued the best movie paper is!

And of course consider the fine art market. The prices there have been exploding the past few years, and there is now a $500 MILLION DOLLAR painting (and one that is massively restored with somewhat questionable provenance) and there are $100 MILLION DOLLAR paintings by living artists, and a million dollars doesn't get you a really first-rate painting anymore!

Some people say, "But paintings are one-of-a-kind, and movie posters were mass produced", and yes, that is true to an extent, but ANY long time collector can tell you that for the vast majority of great posters from the 1910s to the 1930s there are usually one example to a handful of examples known to exist (and in many cases, not even ONE is known to exist), so yes, there is that difference, but does it account for the difference between one painting selling for a million dollars and a poster selling for $10,000?

So I think it will be, as I said above, a question of when some new collectors with both vision and lots of money to spend enter the vintage poster hobby, not a question of IF it ever happens! But when will this be? Will it be in a year, or decades from now? I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know that when that happens, many collectors will be shaking their heads and looking back at auctions, and saying, "if only I had known"!
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  • darolodarolo Member Posts: 30 ✭ Mexican Lobby Carder
    Posters (movie or otherwise) are best measured in price against those of other collectables and not against that of fine art, antiques and other decorative arts that have a scholarly history well before that of posters. Collecting movie posters also doesn't seem to be a millionaire heavy hobby despite the highest prices reaches into 6 figures. I think those that value and treasure posters the most don't have the funds to be able to have (or want) a $100K poster on their wall. Personally I would prefer to spread the money over a collection of posters than on one huge purchase.  The most sought after posters are generally some of the most common as they fall into the 1950s onwards category where dozens or more exist and that will moderate price rises of any of those. The prices obviously will rise as has been seen with Star Wars where some have reached $10000. I think what film the poster is advertising will be the rule of thumb to future collecting (and price rises) and 9 out of 10 collectors will favour Goldfinger, Jaws or Star Wars over a very rare beautiful 20s or 30s poster. Also stamps and coins and a few of the older collectable areas have a street cred that posters haven't yet obtained, The average person - even a non-collector can name a coin that is very valuable and famous as a result - in Australia it's the 1930 penny. In the same vein a lot of paintings are now famous simply because of their value. However that can't really be said about movie posters. Outside of the hobby there is no poster that is famous because of its value. There are famous movies but that's another thing altogether. If the hobby doubled in size and that will take time, then movie posters will be up there with baseball cards, rock memorabilia or whatever is leading the pack. 
  • JohnJohn Member, Dealer Posts: 1,220 ✭✭✭✭ Three-Sheeter
    The hobby is more popular than ever but one of the problems with someone paying a million bucks or more for a poster is that they have no way of knowing whether others might turn up in the future. When that happens it can significantly devalue the investment and that is definitely a factor for collectors. 

    More and more collections are surfacing and lately, I have been offered poster collections of one sort or another on a daily basis. Every so often there is another major find and sometimes multiples of great titles turn up. Who knows what else is out there?

    Another consideration is that the most highly valued posters at the moment are Universal Horror. My feeling is that, as collectors get older, Universal Horror will not attract the prices that we have seen in the past. 

  • 110x75110x75 Member, Sarli Connoisseur Posts: 1,705 ✭✭✭✭ Three-Sheeter
    I can not even approach to a valid answer to this mistery.
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