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Did you know... WHY we at don't have a standardized grading system that applies equally to all posters, and WHAT determines what condition grade each item receives?

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Added: 04/13/2020

Collectors often ask us the above questions, and others like them! And while these ARE excellent questions, obviously I would have to write a book to completely and fully answer them! But I would like to share some thoughts on this:

1) To me (I will say this to start out, but bear in mind that EVERYTHING I write here is "in my opinion"!), I feel you need to first consider what defects are somewhat "permanent" and what are somewhat "temporary"). The temporary ones are things like minor stains, smudges, or surface dirt that could be removed with barely leaving a trace. Sometimes pieces of tape or glued on paper snipes are temporary, because they come off with little trace, and other times they bond with the paper beneath and the area under it can only be re-painted. The same can be true of marker or pen writing. So unfortunately, there is no quick easy chart to refer to (subtract one point for each piece of tape, etc).

All of the above can be summed up by asking "How easily restorable are its defects?". If the answer is "very restorable", AND if the poster is valuable enough to warrant restoration, then those defects are not nearly as significant as when the answer is "not very restorable at all" (as in noticeable paper loss within the image, especially within faces).

2) WHERE defects are is a giant difference. For example, the This Gun For Hire one-sheet has a great huge image of Veronica Lake. The top crossfold falls in her forehead, and maybe it is something about the World War II paper used, but most examples I have seen have a hole at that top crossfold, and it is usually quite noticeable after restoration, unless her entire forehead is repainted, which is just as bad or worse. The same is almost always true when bored teens drew pen mustaches on stars' upper lips.

3) For me, border defects are MUCH less important than image defects. I don't mind pinholes about the edges near as much as I mind paper loss in the image, especially in an area people's eyes normally travel to. Even if all the borders are trimmed off, that is not that bad to me (especially if only blank paper was trimmed).

4) To me, the worst defect there is is major fading, because there is nothing that can be done for the poster short of repainting almost the entire poster. What is weird is that some heavily faded posters can still be displayed and enjoyed, while others look terrible. Part of this stems from people's faces sometimes get so washed out that they look terrible, and also sometimes fading can be very uneven (part fades and another part does not). Again, this HAS to be on a case by case basis.

5) I think many collectors do not put enough weight on folded vs unfolded. If it is a poster that is normally ONLY found folded, then of course this is not an issue. But when it is something (like most one-sheets of the past 30 years) that might be found either way, I then feel you are foolish to not seek out an unfolded version whenever possible. The same is true of extra folds. Many Italian one- and two-panels are found folded an extra time, and a few are not, and I feel the ones without the extra folds should be bumped up in grading for having far fewer folds.

6) In grading, I use a "sliding" scale, that takes into account the age of the poster and the type of paper it is printed on. So for example, Mexican posters from the 1950s and 1960s, which were printed on a very cheap paper that darkens and becomes fragile easily, are graded in a way that takes this into account. And one-sheets of the past 30 years, which can almost always be found in unfolded great condition are graded in a way that takes this into account as well.

So you might see a Mexican poster graded "very good" where had it been a 1990s one-sheet, it might have received a "good" grade! Some people have the idea there needs to be a rigid grading scale that applies equally to all posters (as with comic books or baseball cards) but I think that is silly, because under it, almost all Mexican posters would be graded "good" or under, and almost all 1990s one-sheets would be graded "very good to fine", and what's the value in that?

Of course, a ton more can be written about this, and I will try to find more time to do so in future club messages. In the meantime I urge all of you to ask any follow-up questions you might have, or to add your thoughts to the above, and of I get good replies I will share them in a future club message!

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