Collecting vintage posters: how to make a good investment

The Art Syndicate Staff Writer: Constanza Ontiveros Valdés


For the last thirty years or so, the vintage posters market has been steadily growing on an international scale. Vintage posters are high in demand among collectors wanting to build a compelling collection at an affordable price. Next to the indisputable aesthetic value that vintage art posters have, collecting them can also be a smart and low-risk investment. Why is that?


Since the 1990s the major auction houses have staged sales of vintage posters and many galleries worldwide now explore this niche market. This is not surprising since posters are a very popular item, their value has repeatedly proven to increase over time making them a fairly good investment. For example, posters by French Jules Chéret, known as the father of the modern poster have doubled in price in the last five years, and the value of the most sought-after vintage movie posters have doubled over the past decade. But let’s say you want to start or grow your vintage poster collection, what should you look for to guarantee a good return?


1)    Rarity is key to understand the present and future value of your posters. Posters were not made to last very long so only few have survived. Also, the supply of original posters is dwindling and the demand for them is increasing with that reflecting on their price tag.


2)    The type of edition and printing method affects the value of a poster. If it’s a first edition, considered as an original, the poster will have more value than an official reissue. Posters printed with stone lithography are often valued more than other methods. However, other processes can have a high value and return depending on the rarity, topic and author. Reproductions -with no real value- are often offered as original posters so make sure to double-check the reputation of the place where you are buying from.


3)    Conservation is crucial for the return of your investment. When buying a poster verify its condition and look for any damage. Posters are normally graded on a scale from A to D in terms of their conservation, so try to look for an A or B. Taking care of your collection will guarantee it maintains and increases its value. Posters should undergo anti-acid treatment to stop yellowing and be professionally linen-backed. They should be hung in a dry room away from sunlight behind ultraviolet filtered plastic.


4)    The author, date and subject of a poster affect its value. While the authors of many posters remain unknown many can be traced back to an artist or designer. Likewise, some time-frames and subjects such as travel, skiing, or movie posters are more sought after than others. Without a doubt, demand drives the market!


Now, as with all things in life many other factors can affect the value of a poster, and there are specialty poster markets with their own set of rules. Importantly, posters are not to be expected as an investment with an instant return, prices typically will increase over time so patience is required. However, more often than not, the value of a poster will increase depending on the demand for it. Aside from all this, vintage posters enlighten and give a final touch to any type of space, so it won’t hurt you to get one.

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