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How can you tell if a movie poster is "original"?The only way we can possibly tell you if your poster is authentic is by examining it in person.
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An original movie poster can be defined as: A poster that was issued for a movie by the National Screen Service (NSS), or by a movie studio, or by another company authorized by the studio FOR DISPLAY IN AN ACTUAL MOVIE THEATER at the time of the films original release.
Advertising posters used outside a theater (wilding, bus shelter, subway, and billboard) during an original release are also considered original movie posters.
There are also "Studio Issued" original movie posters. These were printed at the same time as theatrical display posters. Although usually not meant for theatrical display, they are still considered original. They were distributed to "insiders" and those who worked on the film.
Posters that were made to be sold to the public in stores or on line are reproductions/reprints or restrikes and are NOT original movie posters, even if they were printed around the time of the films release. Films that are very popular usually have all kinds of reproductions, licensed and unlicensed (bootlegs) and they are always on ebay. The market is flooded with them. Sometimes reproductions are so close in quality to originals that it is VERY hard to tell them apart.
Video posters are NOT original movie posters because they were issued to advertise the movies release on videotape or dvd, not during the films original theatrical release.
Original movie posters are HIGHLY collectible and can be worth thousands of dollars. Reproduction posters are not very collectible and usually have little if any value.
Just because a seller lists a poster in the ORIGINAL MOVIE POSTERS category on Ebay, does NOT mean it is an original movie poster. Sellers often list their reproduction posters there because they know they will be seen by more people as no one really browses the non original category.
Older posters prior to the mid 1980's were usually (not always) issued folded while newer posters are always issued rolled. Vintage original movie posters were normally printed in very limited quantities, thus they are usually pretty rare. All of them were not meant to be saved. After their initial use they were supposed to be returned to the studio or destroyed.
Usually, the older the poster, the rarer it is. Original movie posters usually contain an NSS information tag/paragraph and number. However, this is not always true. There are plenty of original movie posters that do not contain NSS info.. And, to complicate matters, just because a poster has an NSS tagline, NSS number, and a GAU (printer's union) logo, does not necessarily mean it is an original movie poster. There are many fakes and reprints that have this printed on them to make them appear more authentic.
Common standard sizes include: One Sheet 27"x41" or 27"x40", Insert 14"x36", Half Sheet 22"x28", Three Sheet 41"x81", Six Sheet 81"x81", Lobby Card 11"x14", Window Card 14"x22". Measurements on these can vary slightly, but usually by no more than a half inch or so.
Common Reproduction sizes (not original movie posters) are: 24"x36", 20"x30", 11"x17" and anything slightly smaller than a standard size one sheet approx. 26"x39".
The above information applies to U.S. posters. Non U.S. movie posters have different specs/sizes.
How can you tell if a movie poster is "original"?
We get this question all the time. There is never a simple answer. For every poster there are different things to look for. Here are just SOME of them:
What is the exact size?
Where did it come from?
Is it folded or rolled?
Is it single or double sided?
Does it have a GAU logo?
Is there an NSS number on the front?
Is there an NSS stamp on the back?
Does it "look" and "feel" right?
What kind of paper is it?
Is the print quality good?
Are there known reprints or reproductions of it?
Is the artwork cropped at all?
People send us photos all the time asking if their posters are original. We usually can't answer definitively UNLESS WE SEE THE ITEM IN PERSON. We have handled many thousands of vintage movie posters over the years. We know what to look for. More than 99% of the time we can determine without a doubt, one way or the other, if a poster is an original or a reproduction.
BEWARE OF FAKE MOVIE POSTERS!!!
Yes, there are "fake" movie posters all over ebay. There are even a few dishonest powersellers (with a lot of positive feedback) who continually sell them knowing they are not real. Bootlegs/repros/fakes/restrikes/counterfeits (whatever you want to call them) exist for many popular titles from the 70's and 80's including (but not limited to) : Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Blade Runner, Taxi Driver, Jaws, Scarface, A Clockwork Orange...and many more. These fakes are usually insert size 14" x 36" and can be VERY convincing. They are usually printed on a "minty white" card stock.......but not always. These fakes have been around since the mid 1980's, so some of them have started to age and may no longer be "minty white". Even some long time professional dealers.....and major auction houses....have been fooled!
Beware of fake 27" x 41" one sheets for Star Wars including the regular style A first printing 77/21-0, the teaser style B, and the international style C. The fakes are usually rolled.....but lately the bad guys have started to "lightly fold" them to make them appear more authentic because they were having trouble selling them rolled. These fake Star Wars one sheets have been well documented in two books published by Lucasfilm. They have also been around since the mid to late 1980's.
There are also fake DOUBLE SIDED 27" x 40" one sheets out there. Some titles include: Spiderman, The Matrix, and The Dark Knight.
And finally....there are also tons of fake 11" x 14" lobby card sets. There are literally dozens and dozens of titles that have been counterfeited.
How can ebay allow this? The short answer is.....they can and they do. They are powerless to stop it. How can anyone PROVE that a poster is not authentic to a huge conglomerate? If anyone out there knows how....just let me know! There are fake items all over ebay in practically every category. Movie posters is just one of them. There are guides in virtually every ebay category warning people of fake items. Caveat emptor.
The dishonest sellers who have been peddling these fake posters for years always have a plausible excuse like "they are from a warehouse find" or "they are from a different printing" or the latest one is "they are garbage runs from the factory". Beware of listings with poor quality photos and with low buy it now prices that seem too good to be true.
If you happen to come across another guide that tries to defend the fake inserts as being real.....just look how many people have and have NOT found that guide helpful. If 22 out of 102 have found it helpful......then 80 out of 102 believe it must be full of lies. As for the 22 that voted for it, you can be sure those votes came from multiple ebay user id's used by the fake sellers.
To learn more about this and how to spot fakes before getting burned......you can search movie poster sites and message boards elsewhere on the internet. There are lots of helpful collectors and reputable dealers out there that can be learned from.
If it looks too good to be true....it probably is.
If this guide has helped you please vote "Yes".
This guide created by David A. Lieberman, CineMasterpieces.