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Welcome to our "How to Package and Ship Posters" guide. If you have been directed here by someone who bought something from you on ebay, this buyer is just taking extra precaution to make sure their purchase arrives to them safely and undamaged.
Collectors of vintage posters know that "condition is everything". If you are a seller and you are not familiar with vintage posters and how to ship them properly, please read this guide carefully. There is nothing a collector hates more than receiving a crushed tube or a damaged box with their valuable posters ruined inside.
Careless packaging is one of the main causes of ebay negative feedback.
It is absolutely the responsibility of the seller to do everything in their power to ensure that a poster arrives undamaged to the buyer. Extra strong packaging materials should always be used. There are NO EXCUSES for flimsy/careless packaging. The seller should expect that their package will be abused by the postal system. If a poster is not packaged well and it is damaged in transit, it is 100% the sellers fault because they didn't take EXTRA precaution. If however the poster was expertly packaged and it arrives damaged, only then is it the fault of the postal system.
If you are a buyer, you may want to offer the seller extra money so they will use extra strong packaging. If it is a very valuable item you may want to send them your own super strong packaging materials. With your insructions and materials they can then package the poster securely and ship it to you.


Do not use a flimsy thin walled tube. You should be able to stand on the tube without it bending. Seriously! The U.S. post office, UPS, and FedEx have a nasty habit of crushing industrial strength tubes, so a flimsy one will definitely not survive. Sadly, most shipping tubes found at professional packing supply stores are NOT strong enough. They will tell you they are very strong (remember, they are trying to sell you something!) but 99% of the time they are low quality and will get crushed if you use them. If this is all you can find, then you should use 2 tubes, one with a smaller diameter than the other and put one inside the other. Or, you can place one of these tubes inside a FREE triangular Priority Mail tube for extra protection.
PVC plastic pipe makes a PERFECT shipping tube. If you are a little creative you can make your own from materials at Home Depot. Try and get light weight 3" or 4" diameter pvc COEX drainage pipe. It is cheap, light weight, and strong. Regular pvc pipe works great also but it is heavier and will cost more, and it will cost more to ship. Cut it to length and buy end caps or you can make your own out of cardboard. IF YOU LIVE IN A COLD CLIMATE WHERE IT IS BELOW FREEZING-DO NOT USE PVC! We have heard that pvc plastic can become brittle and crack/shatter in extremely cold weather. We haven't personally had it happen, but others have told us it is possible. If you live in and are shipping to a climate where it is not cold, then PVC plastic will be fine.
DO NOT use just a Triangular Priority Mail Tube alone without putting the poster in another tube first. TRIANGULAR PRIORITY MAIL TUBES ARE NOT STRONG ENOUGH BY THEMSELVES. REPEAT! TRIANGULAR PRIORITY MAIL TUBES ARE NOT STRONG ENOUGH BY THEMSELVES. They are great for extra protection though. Double tubing (placing your regular cardboard shipping tube inside a free triangular priority mail tube) is considered a requirement if you want the poster to stand any chance of surviving undamaged.
For one sheets and other paper posters (not cardboard stock), make sure to roll the poster into approximately a 1 1/2" diameter and then wrap with paper or plastic and fasten it with tape. THE POSTER MUST BE ROLLED INTO A SMALLER DIAMETER THAN THE TUBE SO THERE IS AIR SPACE BETWEEN THE SIDES OF THE POSTER AND THE TUBE. Just placing it in the tube without rolling it into a 1 1/2" diameter and resting up against the inner wall is a bad idea because if the tube gets dinged even a little, then the poster gets completely ruined.
Do not use rubber bands.
DO NOT JUST PLACE THE POSTER LOOSELY IN THE TUBE. REPEAT! DO NOT JUST PLACE THE POSTER LOOSELY IN THE TUBE! This can not be stressed enough. Damage to the poster will definitely occur if you are careless and just put the poster in the tube loosely.
1. It makes it very hard to get it out.
2. The edges are unprotected as it slides up and down causing dings.
3. If the tube gets dinged then it will cause dings all up and down the poster.
Please excuse the small photos, they are the largest size ebay allows in their guides.
Protect the ends/edges of the poster from getting damaged by using cushioning material like bubble wrap, a paper towel, tissue paper, plastic bags from the grocery store, etc.. This is an extremely important step that many people forget.
Use plastic or cardboard end caps on the tube and tape them closed to the tube. Do not just place tape over the ends of the tube without using some form of end cap.



Put the poster in an envelope or plastic bag prior to putting it in the outside envelope/package.

Put the poster between at least 2 pieces of STRONG cardboard. 4 is better. Not flimsy thin cardboard, it should be strong box like cardboard at least 1/8" thick.
Thin masonite particle board or plywood is best. You can get a 4'x8' sheet at home depot and get a bunch cut to size approx 12"x15". They should wind up costing about 50 cents each.

Do NOT just put it in a flimsy envelope.
Make sure the poster does not come in contact with the inside sticky seal of Priority Mail envelopes.
The envelope and cardboard stiffeners should be larger than the folded poster by at least one inch around the edges so it can absorb postal impact. If a folded poster measures 11"x14", then the cardboard and envelope should be at least 13"x16". The poster should be in a plastic bag and then taped to the center of the cardboard.

The packaging you use is critical. We use UNASSEMBLED Priority Mail Boxes and Express Mail boxes. You can get these FREE at the post office. WE DO NOT ASSEMBLE THEM INTO A BOX. We put the poster and cardboard in FLAT and then just tape the ends closed. This creates a very strong FLAT package.

The only time we suggest you assemble the box is if you are shipping A LOT of flat posters where it is just not possible to fit them in the unassembled flat box/envelope. The amount varies, but you can usually fit at least 10 folded posters in a flat unassembled box.
Why don't we assemble the box? We receive shipments of posters every day. Often times we get in a folded poster that was shipped in a box with bubble wrap. The box will be very lightweight and contain mostly air. These packages frequently get damaged/punctured by other packages in the giant mail bins at the post office. An assembled box full of air is usually not strong enough to survive a trip undamaged. We see it ALL THE TIME!!
Be sure to use enough tape to seal up the ends very well. You should use postal insurance if you feel it is necessary. 


For Domestic Shipping within the U.S.
The BEST way to ship a very valuable item is by REGISTERED INSURED U.S. MAIL. All of the above packaging instructions apply. When shipping this way, all seals and openings must be secured with brown packaging tape. Shipping by Registered Mail is the safest way to ship something. The package is tracked every step of the way. Everyone who comes in contact with it must sign for it.

For International Shipping to outside the U.S.
The best way to ship is by U.S. EXPRESS MAIL WITH INSURANCE. Please be aware that if you do use insurance you must declare the value on the customs form and the recipient of the package may be responsible for import fees and taxes which could be quite high.


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This guide created by David A. Lieberman, CineMasterpieces.

Please see our other guides about movie posters.

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