John Reid Vintage Movie Memorabilia Newsletter May 2006
In the last few months I have been lucky enough to come across four major collections, one of which had been put up for auction on eBay. It is rare to find decent posters in any of the modern metropolitan cinemas these days. Most of them are either too new or the posters that they may have once had are now long gone. The eBay auction was for a collection from a Multiplex Cinema in Brisbane described as four rooms full of posters ranging from the 60s on. A couple of fairly rare posters were photographed in the auction as a teaser but I didnt expect miracles.
I actually bid on this lot sight unseen, working on the theory that there had to be something decent amongst the thousands of posters. I came up with the winning bid and when I inspected the posters at the cinema it was pretty clear that I would need a huge truck and a large warehouse to take everything. The owner had kept every poster, banner and lobby card from the last 10 years and there were literally mountains of posters, some used and others never displayed. To be quite honest, the prospect of relocating and sorting these posters was extremely daunting and it was pretty clear that many of the damaged/used posters from recent years would have to be dumped as they had little or no value. The task of sorting, photographing and listing posters of low value is often not worthwhile, considering the work involved.
We somehow mananged to get everything out of the cinema and found a couple of boxes of older posters and lobby cards dating back to the 50s but, in the end, it will take years to sort through everything and much of the recent material will go into storage until I decide what to do with it.
I had known about another more interesting and, thankfully, smaller collection for some time and had been waiting for the owner to decide what he wanted to do with it. I finally heard from him and flew up to North Queensland to view the posters. There were some great titles, many of which I had never seen before. I have sold many over the last month or two and some will be appearing at major auctions in the future. Collections like these are becoming more and more scarce but I am still hopeful that there are some more gems lurking under floorboards or in a box somehwhere out in the country.
The latest collection came from an elderly collector who had accumulated a quantity of US half sheets and quality Horror posters. It is a little unusual to find US half sheets in Australia as they were rarely used here but he had worked in the cinema for many years and had access to distributers in the US and had managed to hoard a very impressive collection.
There are a few elderly collectors in Australia who have passionately built up collections of posters over many years. They have rarely had to pay for a poster as most had careers in the industry and had access to whatever they wanted. They usually started their collecting when posters were considered to be junk and there are many stories of Forbidden Planet lobby card sets and other great posters that were retrieved from dumpsters.
One of the great collectors died in the last year or so. He had worked as a distributer all his life and his house was filled from floor to ceiling with US and Australian posters, lobby cards, books, rare comics and other memorabilia. His collection was sold through a solicitor some months ago and it was all laid out in a huge hall on trestle tables. This was probably the largest and most impressive collection of quality posters ever assembled. I doubt that there is anything similar anywhere in the world. The collection was not widely advertised and ended up being sold off in lots with various collectors buying posters, press books, first edition rare books and rare comics, but few dealers were involved or even aware that the collection was being sold. I believe that two or three people (not me) purchased the bulk of the posters. I was happy to pick up a small quantity of posters, press books and books.
I have been looking at putting together an exhibition of some of the great collections on my website. There are some incredible collections out there and it would be great to be able to make the images accessible to all. One collector has accumulated a fantastic collection of Australian John Wayne posters. Another has a huge Sci Fi collection and there are many collectors of various genres like Richardson Studio, Errol Flynn, Star Wars etc. Its a pity that many of these collections are rarely seen by others but hopefully we will be able to achieve something in the not too distant future. I will eventually update the images of my own collection of Hitchcock posters on this site.
ANOTHER CLASSIC EBAY AUCTION
A few sellers have recently decided that a good marketing tool is to put up a great poster for auction at an outrageous price. They often have no intention at all of selling the item and their motiviation is to either attract publicity or drive traffic to their auctions. Some use these auctions as a tool to attempt to maintain or inflate the value of their own collections. In many cases this is just a form of cheap advertising and there is nothing wrong with that. There have been a number of recent auctions where posters or collections have been offered at huge prices, some in excess of a million dollars. These auctions get a huge amount of hits but the prices are generally way above the real market value so nothing sells.
Here is one of the more entertaining and colorful "tongue in cheek" auctions. The seller describes this title card as one for the "blue-collar working man who wants to party with the big boys".....
I hope you all had a relaxing Easter. It is the best time of the year up here in Queensland - not too hot but still warm enough to swim and enjoy the beach.