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Did you know... how to tell whether a poster that appears to be from the 1930s is really FROM the 1930s?

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Added: 10/07/2013

There are two types of phone calls I hate to receive. The first is, "Did you have a customer named [blank]?", because I know that a long-time collector has passed away, and that always makes me very sad, but after 25 years of doing nothing but sell movie posters, it is sadly a phone call I am receiving more and more.

But the second type of phone call (which I get an average of around once a week) is just as depressing, because it involves someone who has just bought a movie poster from a classic movie, and they THINK (or hope) that they have just struck it rich, and it is up to me to tell them (at least 99% of the time) that what they have is a repro that has only decorative value.

So in the hopes of heading off some of those phone calls, I thought I would share with all of you what I tell such people (who often bought the poster at an antique mall or flea market, most often paying $25 to $100), to help all of you from making the same costly mistake these folks did!

If the poster is for a classic 1930s title, the odds of it being a repro go up significantly, because the repro sellers of course mostly made repros of top titles. The first thing to do is to measure the poster. If it is in English, and it is approximately 28" tall by 20" wide, then it's almost certainly a reprint (1930s original one-sheets are 41" tall by 27" wide, and there are various other English language sizes, but never 28" tall by 20" wide). If it's on fairly heavy paper, or if it's glossy, or if it's never been folded, then it's much more likely a reprint (1930s original one-sheets are mostly on non-glossy newsprint-like paper, and are folded off the press). Finally if it says Portal Publications or Celestial Arts at the bottom, or if the date is in the bottom center in large numbers (as in 1933), it's surely a reprint.

1930s originals rarely have a date, and it's usually in a copyright notice, sometimes in Roman numerals. Every year many people burn up money paying lots of money for posters that turn out to be reproductions. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can always call me at 417 256 9616 or email me at "phillip@emovieposter.com" with the size and what is written on the very bottom, and I should be able to quickly tell you if you have "trash or treasure", and I won't charge you anything to learn the answer!


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