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Did You Know... that for a long time U.S. posters that were used in Canada were censored or approved?

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Added: 09/28/2015

Many collectors of non-U.S. posters quickly learn that many of them (most often those from Belgium, Denmark, and Italy) often have either postage-like "tax stamps" attached to the image or have foreign stamps (or punch holes that form numbers and words) in one corner of the image. Those stamps and similar markings were put there to signify that the theater had paid the tax levied on movies that were being shown. See the link below for more on how these affect the value of the poster they are on.

Canada had stamps as well on some posters, but these served a different purpose! They were much larger than other country's stamps, and they are called "Canadian censor stamps". They were put on posters for U.S. movies, and they showed that the movie (and the posters) had been "approved" by the Canadian censors at that time (and every poster was stamped individually).

Since these stamps were large, they often could not easily be placed in the background of each poster, and sometimes they overlap part of the image. In these cases, they DO lower the value of the item significantly, but proportionally to the impact the stamp has on the item. Sometimes the person stamping would obviously do their best to stamp as much as possible in a blank background area, and other times they would stamp right on the star's face! In those cases the value is very much decreased.

You may be thinking, "But can't the stamps be removed through restoration?", but unfortunately, in most cases, the ink completely bonds with the paper and anything that would remove the stamp would also remove the printed image, so they usually must be painted over, which falls more in the area of recreation rather than restoration, and it can be pretty expensive.

But there is another more important way that the Canadians censored U.S. posters! They simply could not stand even any hint of a "too-sexy" image in the 1950s and early 1960s (of course, in those days there were NO naked women on U.S. posters!) and if the image contained a woman with a low cut dress showing cleavage (or a bare midriff) then the censors would ONE BY ONE paint over the "offensive" parts of those images (sometimes they would try to make it appear like the image was different without a censor mark, so they might paint added parts of clothing to sexy woman, but it almost never looked realistic!).

In addition, they were mortally offended by hand guns, knives or other weapons, and those too would be blacked out, or drawn over, as would scenes of crimes, like someone being hung or strangled! Worst of all, they did not use the normal kind of black ink that was used for stamping the censor stamps. They used a special black magic marker-like paint that COMPLETELY bonds with the paper. and it is SO dark that you usually can't see what was under it, even if you look at it from the back, or hold it to a strong light (and I guess that was why they used it).

Now how do these kinds of "censored" images affect the value of a poster? Since they can almost always only be painted over, and since they affect a key part of the art, many collectors think they almost completely kill the value of the poster. But others (and I am one of them) thinks they are really cool and funny, because they show just how puritanical people in the 1950s and 1960s were, and I could well imagine displaying and enjoying such a poster exactly as it is. But of course, each person must make their own decision on this!

See also:
Did you know... why some foreign posters have postage-like "tax stamps" on the image?


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