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Vintage movie posters are very different from what we see today when we see a contemporary poster for a film. In the days before there were endless sources of entertainment, movies were king and movie posters were used to advertise upcoming films. Vintage movie posters are not only nostalgic, but are highly artistic works of art. Generally speaking, antique and vintage movie posters for “classic” films fetch the highest prices. In fact, the top five most expensive movie posters are all advertising films made between 1927 and 1935. These posters are usually elaborately illustrated and brightly colored “teaser posters,” also referred to as “advance posters.” A teaser poster contains basic images or a design (sometimes also a tagline) that generates interest in the film without revealing too much information, such as the plot, theme and characters. The purpose of the teaser poster is to foster awareness and generate hype and interest for the film. There are some instances when teaser posters are issued long before the film goes into production (teasers for cancelled projects are historically informative), although they are issued during the film development

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What are the different kinds of vintage movie posters?

  • Lobby Cards Also known as “front of house cards,” lobby cards are similar to posters, but usually smaller 11 in × 14 in, also 8 in × 10 in. Lobby cards, like other types of film posters, are collectible. Their values depend on their age, quality and popularity of the film. Lobby cards are typically issued in sets of eight, with each individual card featuring a different scene from the film. Some film releases were, in unusual circumstances, promoted with larger (12 cards) or smaller sets (6 cards). 
  • Jumbo Lobby Cards Jumbo lobby cards were also produced for major releases with the larger card sets. In addition to the larger size, the paper quality was better (glossy or linen). The title card displays the movie title and top stars prominently.
  • Teaser Posters Teaser posters, also referred to as “advanced posters,” are posters that contain a basic image or design and often a tagline that is meant to generate excitement and anticipation for an upcoming film release.  
  • Character Posters For films that are being released with an ensemble cast, character posters feature each member of the cast as characters from the film. These posters may also include tagline that are revelatory about the individual characters.

What are the most expensive vintage movie posters ever sold?

It is quite interesting to note that the top six most expensive movie posters come from the horror or science fiction genres and at least 3 of the 6, Dracula (1931), The Mummy (1932), Bride of Frankenstein (1935) are by the same artist, Karoly Grosz. 

6. Dracula (1931) - $315,552.61362826.42

5. The Black Cat (1934)- $339,904.53

4. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)- $33,9904.53 

3. Metropolis (1927)- $362,826.42

2. The Mummy (1932) - $437,282.65

1. Metropolis (1927, international version)- $1,181,845.00 

How are movie posters valued?

If you are considering collecting movie posters as an investment, it is important to purchase posters that are directly connected to the films they advertise and are authorized and printed by the same studios promoting the films in question. Collectors usually avoid reprints or duplications, as this can depreciate the value. However, some movie posters are so rare (there is only one original version of The Bride of Frankenstein) that purchasing reprints or copies is sometimes unavoidable. Some factors that contribute to the value are the condition of the poster, the rarity and the popularity of the film.

Not just movie posters...

Mearto evaluates many different items.