Poster Design on a Dime? Affordable and Authentic are not Mutually Exclusive

The poster has long evolved from a medium of advertising into a form of art. Vintage posters have gained immense popularity in the last decade which is in part evident in the ever growing number of businesses offering reproductions of vintage poster art in all sizes, mediums and in varying degrees of quality. The consumer can find small size photo-size prints for as little as $5, or poster-size reproductions that might cost less than $75. Why this trend? Well, posters are beautiful, they make wonderful decorations in home and office, and they are inexpensive. Originals, according to the average buyer of a reproduction, are too expensive. New admirers of poster art either know too little about the medium to consider the purchase of an original or they seem too intimidated by the prices in galleries or at auction. But is this really an accurate concern? Are original posters no longer affordable? We disagree. True, if you are looking for that hard-to-find Cappiello or a classic Cassandre, you will not find many true bargains under $2500 whereas smaller reproductions of poster classics are available at a fraction of this cost. But you generally get what you pay for. There are several reasons why you should look at originals before purchasing a modern replica.

Originals stand out because they are authentic, old, original, artistic, collectible and possibly even rare. They stem from a golden age of advertising that existed prior to color television, computer-age media and digital printing. Posters were generally printed on thin, fragile paper, meant to be discarded after use. They are special, often created by artists who used their talents and passion to create an artwork that would outlive its original advertising intention. Add to that the beauty and the immense work involved in some of the early printing processes (for instance, stone lithography) which in themselves can be called forms of art. 

Is buying a reproduction worth it? The replica that you buy to decorate that empty wall space will always be exactly that: a copy of an original, produced in an unlimited number. At the end of the day, these reproductions will never increase in value. Even 50 year-old copies remain copies. Originals on the other hand have the potential to increase in value over time. You might not always double your money in a short period of time but over the years, poster values appreciate and you might very well be able to sell your art for more than you paid.   

And what about the affordability of original posters? Yes, posters can be pricey but there are thousands of good, original posters out there at reasonable prices. Online and walk-in galleries as well as auctions offer beautiful poster art for under $1000. Still too high, you say? Well, there are plenty of great posters available for as little as $300, $200 and even $100. Next month, for instance, we are conducting our sixth “clearance sale” with over 400 posters and each lot has a starting price of only $100. While this sale always includes posters that are valued between $200 and $400, there are plenty of original posters that would retail for $600 and much more. You just need to look. They might not all be in flawless condition, but that is part of what makes them old, authentic and original. 

Below are some of our favorites from the upcoming auction. Enjoy and feel free to email us if you have any questions. Click here to view the posters in our March 3, 2015 clearance sale.

Winter Clearance Sale by Valley, ca. 1898/1900

The perfect British poster for this auction: Winter Clearance Sale by Valley, ca. 1898/1900

John Hopps & Sons by Mario Buzzi, 1923

John Hopps & Sons by Mario Buzzi, 1923

Balkamp by Donald Brun, 1955

Balkamp by Donald Brun, 1955

Write a Cheque Today for National War Bonds by Anonymous, ca. 1918

Write a Cheque Today for National War Bonds by Anonymous, ca. 1918

Join the Navy by Anonymous, ca. 1917

Join the Navy by Anonymous, ca. 1917

St. Valery en Caux - Tennis Casino Yachting by Camille Marchand, 1936

St. Valery en Caux – Tennis Casino Yachting by Camille Marchand, 1936

Winter Sports In France by André Giroux, 1935

Winter Sports In France by André Giroux, 1935

Pfingstrennen Frauenfeld by Iwan Edwin Hugentobler, 1938

Pfingstrennen Frauenfeld by Iwan Edwin Hugentobler, 1938

Furka-Oberalp by Herbert Leupin, 1944

Furka-Oberalp by Herbert Leupin, 1944

Visit Kashmir by Anonymous, 1949

Visit Kashmir by Anonymous, 1949

Song and Light in Central Park by Anonymous, 1918

Song and Light in Central Park by Anonymous, 1918

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