Framed Carry On Cleo banned artwork originally owned by the Artist, Tom Chantrell
Carry on Cleo seen on Ebay, went for approx $1,000
A version of Howard Terpning's US Original
Ray Young's cheap and cheerful last minute replacement
Tom Chantrell's UK Quad art for Cleopatra
My Carry on Cleo One Sheet, as close as I can get for now
Why Do I Collect?
The Cost of Nostalgia
I have encouraged my wife to believe my collection will be worth a fortune to her when I die. I don't think she is totally convinced and is right to be skeptical. It is just the best justification I can come up with for what is a pretty strange and expensive hobby: collecting discarded advertising material.
I imagine most collectors struggle to justify why they do it. I bought most of my posters either for the art or the significance of the movie to me.
My Dad took me to see a lot of movies in the 60's and early 70's so quite a lot of those are on my wish list. My Mum is also responsible for my Horror film habit. Occasionally I have bought multiple posters in a lot, so it is true to say I have a few posters for films I have never seen or have no emotional connection to. A sensible person would sell those but I find it hard to let go of anything. Some have links to features I saw as a teen or with dates; but that starts to get into the 80's and I am more a pre-80's collector.
I have heard people talk about buying Movie posters as an Investment. That would seem pretty risky to me. It is very hard to say how much a poster is worth. The reality for any collectable is it's only worth what someone else is prepared to pay for it.
Value is in the eye of the beholder.
Like anything else traded supply and demand, condition, country of origin, original or re-release and the overall nostalgia factor all play a part in the assessment. Here are some factors to consider in how valuable it might be. Maybe.
Supply and Demand
Film posters were never intended to be owned by the public. They belonged (in theory, they still do...) to the movie's distribution company, they were sent along with the actual reels of film for the theater to use in it's promotion of the feature playing that week. At the end of the films run they were supposed to be returned. Many posters say as much in the small print at the bottom, either from the National Screen Service (NSS), the advertising company or the distributor. If they were returned to the distributor they were often destroyed, discarded or shelved and forgotten.
The supply of some movie posters is from, or connected to, that chain of people between the Printers and the Theaters. Unfolded posters may have come direct from the printers and have never seen a Theater, or have been samples hanging around the office. Folded and clearly used posters likely came from Theaters, either from someone who worked there's personal hoard or contacts in the industry. Cinema managers could certainly order more copies of a poster, but they were not sold direct to the public. One way or another they made it to a dealer, who sold them to us.
The supply is very limited. However many may have been churned out at the time, few made it out into the public domain. Those that did are hunted down with various degrees of avidity by their fans. Age and rarity are of course connected, old titles tend to only show up again when collections are sold off.
Demand comes from several factors including the popularity of the film, the actors involved, it's genre, it's worthiness as a milestone work, it's historical context in popular culture and the visual appeal of its artwork. Along with our fellow Film Poster Collectors, we now compete for titles with people who are fans of the actor or who just want some spectacular decorations for their new Home Theater room.
Condition Matters...Unless it Doesn't
There is no standard for describing the condition of posters that everyone agrees on. Terms like Fine, Excellent, Very Good, are the sellers point of view of what they mean, not necessarily yours. More useful is specific descriptive text cataloging the faults and blemishes of which there are bound to be some, this is disposable ephemera after all. Folds, edge tears, fold separation, tape marks, stains, pen marks, etc are all useful pointers to what you are actually getting. Of course a picture speaks a thousand truths but not at the resolution allowed on Ebay. An accurate and detailed description is really going to help you. If the description is lacking, email them for answers.
Remember what you are buying though and don't set your standards too high. A poster was originally a discardable advertising aid, printed on the cheapest paper stock around, sent folded from cinema to cinema to be repeatedly pinned on show, inside and out, in all weathers. They were not handled with kid gloves but by spotty kids with popcorn butter soaked fingers. Expect at it's best it will have folds, pinholes and some staining round the edges.
What you are looking for is minimal damage, if any, to the visible art. Fold creases and even some light wear (and tear) are par for the course. Pinholes in the corners are to be expected, even tape marks at the edges, but again, not on the main artwork. Tolerance for stains, pen marks showing through from scrawl on the back and general rumpling are up to you to figure in to how much you want this item. Posters should not be trimmed, if some previous owner cut the edges of a 27x41 1 sheet or 30x40 British Quad to fit their Wal-Mart frame then it is pretty much ruined. Unless...
Condition matters, but demand can out weigh it. Recently on Ebay a version of the Carry On Cleo movie poster for the popular UK 60's comedy went for nearly $1,000. It's description included this:
"The Poster has been trimmed to 24/3/4"x 40" & has been rolled (as the Poster was printed on a heavy stock card paper this shows through but suitable framing would largely obviate this effect). "
This poster appears to be printed on card, unusual for a quad, rolling it up had put extensive creasing across the art, -10 points. Condition is not good, especially trimming 5 inches off it, a real negative, -100 points at least. Also, it's a double bill which some people like and specifically collect and others see as a re-release version and the less for it, -5 points. But...It has the art of the first UK Quad version painted by Tom Chantrell and deemed too close a parody of the actual Howard Terpning version of the real Burton-Taylor Cleopatra movie poster art. Under threat, the Chantrell "bed" version was withdrawn from circulation, making that UK quad a very rare poster indeed, +1000 points. So just to get the banned art in any form at all, the bidding went up and up. Yep, one of my bids is in there too, somewhere near the bottom.
The Nostalgia Wildcard
You may find yourself the owner of a hot poster for no other reason than someone else really, really wants that poster. They may not even be a poster collector, it may be a nostalgic link to some part of their life that they alone know. Maybe they were an extra in that film, their wife loves it and the anniversary is coming or they lost their virginity in the back seat of the cinema to it. Whatever, it may be almost money no object for that specific poster to that sole person.
I once had an angry email from someone I had outbid on a Frankie Howard, Up Pompeii poster. They said alright then, name your price. Well, I never found out how high they would go. Turns out this was a must have for me too, my nostalgia factor kicked in because I loved Frankie, I had seen him on stage weeks before he died and Up Pompeii was a movie my Dad had taken me to when I celebrated being old enough to get into an UK AA rated movie. I had never seen one offered on Ebay before and I had wanted it for a long time. No sale. Of course a couple of months later another one appeared on Ebay and went for half what I had paid, I don't know if it went to my accuser or not. Irony or Karma?
What's Worth Collecting?
There are a lot of niche demand posters out there. Maybe a good idea is to find a genre you like and stick with it. Things come and go in popularity, the difference between a junkshop and an antiques dealer is specialization.
James Bond movies, for instance, have always been popular and big box office, lots of theaters had the posters, all over the word. Demand is high enough that though I would love to, this is one niche I just can't afford to get into. Popular movies, big stars, important leader in a genre, part of Cinema and Cultural history and last but not least, great art by Mr Robert McGinnis and others push Bond prices way up.
I try to collect Hammer Film Posters, which are also starting to move beyond my reach. When I can't feed this habit I make do with other British Quad posters, I like the large landscape format 30x40 art of the 60s-70s by people like Tom Chantrell. Unfortunately, so do a lot of other collectors.
Fathom and the Father Factor
I recently got hold of a poster that illustrates a lot of what I said above. The 1967 Film Fathom, starring Raquel Welch, isn't a particularly well known film. It's star, Ms Welch, is iconic and has her fans and collectors but this isn't a milestone work for her. However it is a high nostalgia factor poster for me, I clearly remember going to see it with my Dad. So I have been looking for it for quite a while and just haven't seen one offered anywhere. So in my opinion, it is pretty rare. The dealer offering this for sale on Ebay was generously also throwing in the Press Kit, the advertising blurb sent along to promote the poster.
I was lucky that only 3 other people bid on it, I'll tell you how much it cost me after you see what the press kit says about the original promotion of this poster.
I really wanted this poster, my max was pretty high, luckily I ended up paying only 100 times the original cost of the poster. Over nearly 40 years, is that a good investment? Probably not. For all it's supposed scarcity I have seen three other examples offered since then, they all went for less than I paid. Sigh.
On the other hand, I am really happy to have this poster and the Press Kit was a great bonus. It looks great even though it has some particularly stubborn creases and wrinkling. Some posters you just feel so good about finally owning.
I have told my wife it will be worth a fortune to her when I die.
Hammer Comedy Thriller Adventure Drama Family War Western
Ones that got away...For the interest of other collectors, Hammer posters that I don't own, have never owned or only have a reproduction of.
This site was last updated 03/23/12 by xperiment><