Collecting, Vintage Posters

How to Verify the Authenticity of Vintage Movie Posters – Guide

Vintage poster for the movie Bitka na Neretvi with a design by Pablo Picasso.

How to Verify the Authenticity of Vintage Movie Posters: A Step-by-Step Guide

What, that’s a reproduction?

From time to time, you’ll come across a vibrant vintage movie poster. Usually, it is just another reproduction – as you can immediately tell by the price or unlimited quantity. However, sometimes you’ll see a stellar price and claims of authenticity – sure to spark curiosity with passionate collectors. Unfortunately, in some cases what you find is a reproduction in disguise. Whether the fraud was intentional, or a genuine unawareness of the seller, it is your responsibility to recognize what you’re looking at. In this guide, we’ll delve into the essential steps to verify the authenticity of vintage movie posters.

1. Understanding Vintage Movie Posters

Before you begin the authenticity assessment, it’s crucial to grasp the characteristics of vintage movie posters. These posters, typically created between the early 20th century and the mid-1980s, feature vibrant artwork, captivating imagery, and promotional content for classic movies. However, not all of them are classics. Some are less known and often obscure but managed to capture the attention then.

An example of how an authentic vintage movie poster should look like.

An original vintage poster for the movie The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, printed in 1966. A Yugoslav edition.

2. Research the Poster

Begin by conducting thorough research on the vintage movie poster in question. Explore its history, including details about the film, studio, release date, and notable cast members. Use the online databases, archives, and collector forums to gather valuable insights into the poster’s origin and significance.

3. Examine Printing Techniques

Posters have been around for some time, enough to go through various production changes. From the late 19th century up until the 80s, we know of at least 4 mass production processes. Depending on what you’re looking for, a digital print can be as good as a screenprint.

Authentic vintage movie posters are often produced using specific printing techniques prevalent during their era. You should familiarize yourself with common printing methods such as lithography, offset printing, and screen printing. Carefully inspect the poster for telltale signs of authentic printing, such as color saturation, ink texture, and printing plate marks.

4. Evaluate Paper Quality and Aging

Genuine vintage movie posters are typically printed on paper of lesser quality that ages naturally over time. Examine the paper for signs of aging, including discoloration, foxing, and yellowing. Authentic posters may also display imperfections such as edge wear, creases, or fold lines consistent with age and handling.

Of course, seeing high-gloss paper would be an obvious sign the poster is a reproduction. Sometimes, however, assessing the mere visual appearance is not enough. An interesting research on the artificial aging of paper shows a list of signs that indicate aging was done deliberately.

5. Verify Copyright Information and NSS

Authentic vintage movie posters often feature studio logos, copyright information, and other identifying marks. Research these details to ensure they align with known examples from the poster’s era. Be wary of posters with inaccurate or mismatched studio logos and copyright dates, as they may indicate forgery.

Still, be cautious of counterfeit versions that may bear the film studio or distribution company’s name and logo. Authentic vintage movie posters, distributed by the National Screen Service, feature a unique numbering system in the bottom right corner indicating the release date and print number.  Note that originals were initially meant to be discarded after the initial film run.

6. Seek Expert Opinion

When in doubt, seek the expertise of seasoned collectors, appraisers, or authentication services specializing in vintage movie posters. Some sellers may seem very educated on the matter, but too eager to sell. If the poster is high in value, always outsource an expert’s opinion. A professional assessment can provide invaluable insights into a poster’s authenticity, considering the aforementioned factors such as printing techniques, paper quality, and historical context.

We are happy to offer you a free expertise, all you need to do is send us a message.

When In Doubt

Remember, when in doubt, simply make sure you’re dealing with a verified seller. Legitimate art dealers get their posters from trusted sources. As most purchases are done online these days, this might sometimes be the only way to make sure your poster is the real deal.

Feel free to browse our rich collection of vintage movie posters & collectibles. 

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About Miloš Stanković

Miloš Stanković was born in Vranje, where he finished high school education. After that, he moved to Belgrade where, in 2014, he graduated in literature and languages from the University of Belgrade. After gaining a bachelor's degree, he also finished master studies at the same university. The literature and art were always his main interests. However, he is passionate about creating other content as well. He loves researching new topics and creating unique content. Besides formal education, Milos gained an education in copywriting, WordPress development, and SEO.

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