About Vintage Posters

Vintage posters were the original form of advertising. These colorful images were pasted in public places to advertise a product or event and were never intended to last hundreds of years. Their artists and printers knew that they would be rained on, torn down and covered up. The process of stone lithography limited the number of posters that could be created; a run of 2,000 to 3,000 was standard. Many poster designs were created by anonymous artists, but there is also a large cadre of well-known poster artists: Cheret, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cappiello, Mucha, Bradley, Colin, Cassandre, Hohlwein and Cardinaux to name a few. Posters that are available today are those that were not displayed, either because the printer made a few extras for a small number of collectors, or they were packed away in storage and only recently discovered.

Poster styles differ according to the period they are from, the originating country and the artist. Art Nouveau posters from the late 1800's, Art Deco posters from the 1920's-1930, and Modernist Posters all have a vastly different design style. Even during the same time period, posters from different countries have their own unique look. Of course the artistic sensibility of the poster designer also plays a large part in the design of the piece.

Early on posters were printed using a complicated process of stone or plate lithography but over time other printing techniques (photolithography, woodblocks, silkscreens, photo-offset) were used.

Vintage poster prices are determined by a number of factors: the artist who produced the poster, the rarity of the poster, the subject matter of the poster, the condition of the poster, and the global vintage poster market. Although there is no definitive price guide for antique posters, auction prices typically define a fair market value. Collectors must remember that every poster has a unique condition and provenance and because of that two posters of the same design may sell for vastly different prices.

Because vintage posters are essentially very old pieces of printed newsprint, many of them have been lined on linen (to preserve and protect them), and/or restore/repair. A professional conservationist may have repaired tears or over-painted stains. It is unusual to find a pristine antique poster and the amount of repairs done on a poster has an effect on its price.

This website contains a list of all IVPDA members worldwide. If you are thinking seriously about purchasing a poster or starting a vintage poster collection, look up a member in your area and make an appointment to learn about posters from someone who knows pretty much all there is to know about them. It will no doubt prove to be an interesting learning experience, and help you to make informed decisions as you acquire this unique art.