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Did you know... that there has been a major change in the source of older posters coming into the hobby?

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Added: 03/04/2013

As you likely all know, I have done nothing but auction movie posters as my sole source of income for 24 years now, and I have been collecting all my life (I bought my first movie posters in 1969 from Tannar Miles, a Texas dealer!). I have run over 750,000 lots through my auctions, and I know it is fair to say that a wider selection of movie posters and lobby cards have passed through my hands than almost anyone else alive.

There has been a major shift in in the source of older posters coming into the hobby over the past ten or so years. All through the 1990s, I would get phone calls and letters every week or so stating "My dad [or granddad] worked in [or owned] an old movie theater and he has a lot of old posters he saved." Or they sometimes said "We were renovating [or tearing down] an old movie theater and we found a lot of old posters in a closet [or under a stage]". Or they sometimes said "We were renovating [or tearing down] an old house and we found a lot of old posters under the floors [or between the walls]". Between 1989 and 2000 a LOT of the great posters that I auctioned or sold through sales catalogs were found in these ways.

But after 2000 these kinds of calls started drastically slowing down, and they were mostly replaced by a different sort of call! These would start out "I have been collecting since the 1960s [or 1970s, or 1980s] and I have reached a point in my life where I realize it is time to start selling what I have". Or they sometimes say "I have been collecting for many years and my best buying experiences were with you, so naturally I thought of you when it came time to sell". And most sad are the calls that start out "You had a customer named ..." and "he told me to call YOU if anything happened to him (because he knew you would not take advantage of me), and now he has passed away, so I want you to auction his collection".

The big difference here is that BEFORE 2000 or so, LOTS of great older posters were entering the hobby on a regular basis, and that meant the overall supply of pre-1960 posters in the hobby kept multiplying. But SINCE 2000 the number of pre-1960 posters entering the hobby has drastically slowed (likely because there just aren't that many really "old" movie theaters left that haven't been torn down or renovated, and there aren't that many people left who worked in those theaters). Of course there are still a few great finds, but the number of them has gone down drastically.

So the net effect of all this is that the total number of pre-1960 posters "in the hobby" has stayed pretty constant over the past ten or so years, and since more and more of them keep getting added to museums and universities that never sell them, the overall supply is starting to decrease.

And the next time you notice that older posters and lobby cards you used to see fairly often are now seen less and less and less often, you will know why that is!


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