Vintage posters are a unique combination of art and collectible, and you can choose to buy them for either reason. Vintage posters come in all shapes and sizes, for all different types of media and art, and in a variety of conditions. Before expanding your vintage poster collection, consider the style, age, value, rarity, and condition of the posters available to make an informed purchase.
Style of the Vintage Posters
Unless you prefer to just collect any old poster, then you probably want to narrow your collection down to a specific period, style, or even artist. This allows you to focus on the art and artists that you love. A few examples include collecting vintage music posters, film posters, collecting belle époque or art deco posters, or focusing on French advertising posters from the likes of Alphonse Mucha or Jules Chéret.
Age of the Vintage Posters
You also have to choose whether you want to collect posters from a specific period or date. One way to collect is to simply buy any posters from a certain decade, such as the 1950s. The most collectible vintage posters are from the 1880s and 1890s, when French artist Jules Cheret first began using lithographic printing to mass-print posters. These antique posters are old, rare, and valuable. Alternatively, you can choose something newer, such as posters from the 1990s, which still offer a lot in the way of collectible and diverse designs.
Value and Rarity of the Vintage Posters
The rarer and more valuable a poster, the more collectible it is. When buying antique posters, pay attention to make sure that they are not reprints, unless the reprints themselves are from the original artist. Only the original artist prints are actually valuable. Most vintage advertising and travel posters had runs of a few thousand, while vintage war posters usually had runs of 10,000 or more, although many of them did not survive. The fewer posters originally printed, the rarer the poster.
Condition of the Vintage Posters
Finally, it is always a good idea to pay attention to the condition when you buy vintage and any other old posters. The better the condition, the more valuable the poster. The majority of retro posters feature some damage from glue, staples, or the hanging method, but some, especially movie posters and framed posters, are very well preserved. Most collectors prefer to get posters in as good of condition as possible, but obviously, mint condition posters do fetch a higher price than those with some damage, marks, or bends.