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Did You Know... that Italian movie posters are among the hardest of all countries to date?

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Added: 04/15/2011

Lots of U.S. posters have a date and/or an NSS number which makes it easy to date them (and many of the undated ones have some clear markings that let you date them once you know what they are, and most U.S. re-releases are marked, and many are dated). Most French posters can usually be identified by the printer and/or Visa numbers. Many Japanese posters have an Eirin number that indicate the year of release. While there are of course exceptions to these general guidelines, most movie posters from the U.S., France, or Belgium are relatively easy to date.

The other main countries vary, with few as easy as the above three, but of all the most collected countries, Italian movie posters are far and away the hardest to accurately date It is frustrating because almost all have printer names but no one we know of has been able to correlate those printers to specific dates with any useful level of accuracy (as has been done with almost all French movie poster printers). Sometimes re-release Italian movie posters even have the first year of release for that movie printed on them, but that doesn't mean the poster is from that year (and it doesn't mean it isn't from that year either). Instead, it simply means "the film was first released in Italy" in that year.

Worst of all, even the most knowledgeable movie poster dealers and collectors from Italy admit that, while they are more knowledgeable at determining dates for Italian movie posters, even they are missing lots of knowledge, and that there are many Italian movie posters where they can't say for certain if they are from the first release or a later release. Sometimes an Italian movie poster is thought by everyone to be first release, and then someone finds another poster that clearly pre-dates it!

Because of this, we add the following note to all of our auctions of Italian posters (unless we feel that we have been able to determine the year of release with absolute certainty):
     "Note that it is difficult to accurately date Italian posters, and some unmarked re-release posters can be extremely difficult to distinguish from first releases, so please bear that in mind before you place a bid. We used our best information to date this poster, but we can't always guarantee that the Italian posters we sell are not from an unmarked re-release, but this will only prove to be true in a very tiny number of cases."

Furthermore, we are always looking for additional experts on Italian posters, but it seems that dating Italian posters is just too complex of a task for we have only found individuals with useful information on specific posters, but no one with an expert overview on most
Italian movie posters.

Here is most of the information we currently have that pertains to Italian posters:

  • Italian posters most often come in five sizes. The most common (called a "2 fogli" in Italy or a one-panel or two-sheet in the U.S.) measures 39" x 55". There are also two-panel posters (also called four-sheets or '4 fogli") that measure 55" x 78" (and are printed in two sections). Another size (often called an "Italian one-sheet") is the Foglio which measures 28" x 39" and are somewhat uncommon. There are also "photobustas", which are printed on glossy paper and come in a variety of sizes and are most commonly are made in sets (similar to U.S. lobby cards, except that they are almost always quite a bit larger, and on thinner paper). Photobustas can vary quite a bit in size. Some of them measure only slightly larger than a U.S. lobby card, and some measure slightly smaller than a U.S. one-sheet! But they almost always come in a set of 8 (but this too varies!). Finally, there are locandinas, which somewhat resemble U.S. inserts, and which also come in a variety of sizes although most measure approximately 13" x 27".
  • Virtually no Italian posters survive from before World War II (mostly only pre-war heavy stock lobby cards, and even those are rare). Apparently there were many paper shortages in Italy during World War II, resulting in the destruction of almost all pre-World War II posters!
  • There were "Italian export" posters created in English and Spanish languages to be used in other countries. These usually come to us from Middle Eastern, European, and South American sources. Oddly, they are not exclusively for Italian films. It appears that in the 1960s and early 1970s most top English and U.S. film producers had some of their oversized stills and other items printed in Italy, likely because of their superior printing ability at that time.
  • In general, "TODD-AO" on an Italian poster means it is from the "roadshow" release of that movie.
  • Photobusta envelopes usually indicate the quantity made for a set of photobustas. If an envelope has the quantity handwritten, that was the quantity sent to that particular theater which is to say that few theaters actually ordered complete sets. Sets were mixed "large" and "regular" photobustas and there is no consistency of quantities between films.

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