Where to Buy

So youíve decided to start collecting. Where do you start? Well Iíve divided the following page into 3 sections; specialist poster retailers, auction houses and Internet auction sites (namely Ebay).


My first grouping is that of specialist poster retailers. This includes high street shops, Internet sites (excluding auctions) and others retailers such as dealer stalls at memorabilia fairs.

The main advantage of going down this route is that unless you have the great misfortune of buying from a dodgy retailer (pretty hard to do) then youíll get something that is 100% authentic. Youíll also be able to examine the poster closely before you buy to get an exact condition, as even the highest resolution scans or photos can fail to show up some flaws.

The main disadvantage? Chances are youíll be paying more than you would if you found the same poster on the Internet somewhere. But in my opinion, paying that little bit more to buy from a reputable dealer can ensure that you have total peace of mind. Thereís nothing worse than spending several hundred dollars on a poster only to have constant doubts about its authenticity.

Auction Houses

When it comes to auction houses youíre really talking about the big three, Sothebys, Christies and Bonhams. Believe it or not they all sell movie posters, usually conducting 1 or 2 large movie memorabilia sales each every year in the UK alone (more in the US and other countries also).

Donít be put off by the names though. You donít have to spend $1000+ to be allowed to attend. Although youíll see some fantastic posters sell for $10,000s at these places, there will also be plenty of lots in the $100-$500 range. And since you can bid on the Internet or over the phone you donít even have to be there on the day to buy something.

Heritage Movie Posters

There are several good reasons to buy from an auction house. Firstly everything that youíll buy will have been authenticated by an expert in the field, so no worries about buying fakes. Secondly, because not a huge number of people browse the big auction web sites, there is the potential of buying items for less than theyíd usually sell for on the larger Internet auction sites. Thirdly when you win an item youíll get a letter in the post with the Christies logo on it, so you can pretend to be much richer than you actually are..

Only thing to remember when buying from an auction house is that youíll have to pay a Buyerís premium on anything you buy. This is typically 15-20%. So if you bought a poster for $300 hammer price, the total to pay would be $360 if the premium was 20%. So make sure you know how much itíll cost before you bid.

Ebay & Internet Auction Sites

This is the most popular way of buying film posters for most collectors. With the rise ofEbay there are now 1000s of film posters being auctioned every week. There are plenty of bargains to be had, but there can be dangers too if you don't do your research before you bid.

Dealing with Ebay specifically first, the most important step in buying a film poster is to gather as much information as possible. Here are a few pointers:

  1. Who is the seller? What else are they selling? What have they sold in the past? How is their feedback?
  2. Can you get an accurate idea of condition from the description/ pictures provided? If not then email the seller for more info or better pictures.
  3. Who is bidding on the item? If there is only 1 hour left and nobody has bid on an item that you think could be a bargain then it could be a sign that itís dodgy in some way. Likewise if an item has plenty of bids from people that have bought plenty of posters in the past then it could be a good sign. However it is always worth doing your own research, donít just follow the crowd!
  4. How will the item be shipped? I always politely ask how the item will be packaged before I bid. Buying a really nice poster only to have it crushed on route can be rather upsetting..
  5. What is the poster worth to you? Check out prices on Internet retailers, past auctions on Ebay and other sites to get a better idea.

Once youíre happy with the item, then I would advise calculating your maximum bid and putting it in a few hours before the auction ends. It can be all too easy to get carried away in the last few minutes of an auction.

There are other auction sites out there, the most significant being Heritage Movie Posters, which now has a dedicated web site. Heritage will shortly be running weekly auctions as well as several large vintage poster auctions every year. Heritage Movie Posters is run as an auction site, so you will have to pay buyerís premiums, but youíll have solid authenticity and the opportunity to bid on a huge variety of posters.

Posters I can't afford