Vintage Movie Posters & Lobby Cards - A History
Original vintage movie posters and movie memorabilia have become increasingly desirable by collectors over the past 25 years. Most people don't realize vintage movie posters are available to the general public . They were only to be loaned to theatre owners and then returned thereafter thereby never produced for the collector market.Vintage movie posters even have a studio notation on the bottom stating “Property of National Screen Service Licensed for Display Purposed Only, Must Be Returned”. Before the monopolization of the movie theatre industry, move posters were also used throughout the community to promote upcoming films. The barber shop, drug store and local hardware store displayed movie poster “inserts” and “window cards”. Today, only the “one sheet” movie poster is produced and displayed in the theatre lobbies.
In 1933, one of the darkest years of the Great Depression, a theater owner might receive a 15-cent credit for returning a movie poster to his regional exchange. Compare this figure with the cost of a gallon of gas (18 cents) or a loaf of bread (12 cents) and it’s easy to understand why very few movie posters survived from this period. If the austerity of the times and the frugality of theater owners was not enough to keep movie posters out of the hands of the general public, the sweeping paper drives of the war years also did their part to help keep movie memorabilia out of general circulation. So it’s no surprise that movie posters from the years of 1930 through 1945 are quite scarce.
Check out some genuine vintage movie posters
In fact, it is estimated that fewer than 20 copies of movie posters exist from most films made during the period of 1930 through 1945. For many landmark films of the era (e.g., “The Grapes of Wrath”, “Stagecoach”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, “Fury”, “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”, “Flash Gordon”) it is believed that less than a dozen examples have survived of any particular poster.
Over the years original vintage movie posters have been produced in various shapes and sizes.Before the 1980’s and the demise of the small town movie theatres (as a result of the monopolization of the industry by companies like Showcase cinemas) also meant the extinction of all the breath-taking movie posters such as the lobby cards, window cards, insert, half sheets and the traffic-stopping 3, 6 and 24 sheets. The primary movie poster that survives today is the standard one sheet.Below is a glossary of the most popular vintage movie posters that once played a major role in the promotion and exhilarating anticipation of upcoming movie events.
One Sheets & Half Sheet Movie Posters:
These have always been the primary advertising posters used by theatres since the early 1900’s. The one sheet (27x41”) is still used today in the lobbies of the major movie theatres. However, the half sheets (22x28”) became extinct around 1980. Vintage one sheets of major classics from pre 1960 are highly sought after by collectors sometimes paying over $1,000,000 for such gems as Frankenstein or Metropolis.
Lobby Card Movie Posters:
Lobby cards were used in U.S.
theaters prior to the late 1970’s. They are rarely produced for today’s films. These small movie posters (11”x14”) printed on card stock were generally produced in sets of eight.These mini movie posters were designed for display in a theater’s lobby for the purpose of luring movie goers into the theater by showing highlights from the movie. A lobby card set entailed one Title Card (TC), a lobby card of usually designed similar to the one sheet with credits and feature/close-up artwork of the major stars, and seven Scene Cards (SC), each depicting a different scene from the movie. Original vintage lobby cards are highly collectible today because they often depict the most memorable scenes in the movie which were not captured on the other style posters. In addition, lobby cards are the perfect size for framing and display.
Window Card and Insert Movie Posters:
Highly collectible vintage movie posters today also include Widow Cards (14x22”) and Inserts (14x36”). These movie poster styles were primarily used to promote the movie in local businesses, such as the drug store and local barber shop. As with lobby cads these movie posters are often very desirable due to their superior vintage graphics and artwork.Modern day posters generated by computer have lost their artistic value as compared to the vintage movie posters created by highly skilled artists.