We asked Alastair McCrea, entertainment specialist for the Woking-based auctioneer Ewbank’s, for his tips on buying vintage film posters and picks from the Adrian Cowdry Collection going under the hammer next month
Buying vintage film posters is growing in popularity, what are the most in-demand genres?
Usually people collect by genres, the strongest areas are James Bond, Star Wars, Hammer Horror, westerns and sci-fi. Good artwork on a poster is usually a factor in how collectable the movie is. We also have some collectors who focus on poster artists as they all had their own style. Current trends influences what people collect. For example, every time a new James Bond or Star Wars movie is released the interest in buying vintage posters of the older films increases.
What should you look out for if you’ve only seen the poster online?
Condition is always vital when collecting posters. They are all printed on paper and not intended to last any longer than the duration of the run in the cinema yet some can now be well over 60 years old. Watch out for paper loss, tape marks or sun damage which cannot be rectified without major restoration. A useful way to check condition is to look at the back of the poster as this will often give you just as much information as viewing from the front.
Have you any tips for the newbie collector, such as certain poster size, or overlooked designers?
1980s posters are increasing in value. Movies like Big Trouble in Little China have great artwork and the value has rocketed in the last five years. One good artist to collect is Graham Humphreys. His bright, vibrant artwork on a range of cult titles means he will always prove a sound investment. One of my favourite artists is Arnaldo Putzu, who produced great imagery on posters such as From Russia With Love and Get Carter.
What would be your Holy Grail movie poster?
There are too many to choose from. Personally, to find an uncut James Bond Thunderball advance Quad, which was usually cut into four sections, would be pretty special for me. I am also a big fan of any Ealing Studios’ Quad posters many of which are now fetching well into four figures at auction.
What will be the highlights of the sale of the Adrian Cowdry Collection at Ewbanks next month?
The highlights will doubtless come from the James Bond collection. It’s a sought-after franchise with prices always on the rise. Some of Adrian’s items have not appeared on the market in years, so it will be interesting to see how much they fetch. All our auctions are listed online to worldwide audiences, but we expect to see the majority of interest come from the UK and US.
The Adrian Cowdry collection of movie memorabilia, including a collection of James Bond memorabilia, takes place on October 12 and 13. For more details visit www.ewbankauctions.co.uk
This is an extract from an in-depth article on collecting film posters by expert Phillip Hunter in this month’s Antique Collecting magazine – find out how to subscribe to Antique Collecting here.