Collecting original vintage posters can be hard on “condition freaks.” Unlike fine art, which was usually printed in smaller format on fine paper, posters were normally printed in a large format on low quality paper with an anticipated life which seldom exceeded five to eight weeks. As with oriental rugs, one can live more comfortably with vintage posters by learning to love the minor flaws. If the design is clean and the paper intact, the poster is collectable. Its relative value will be affected by the degree to which the design is impacted by condition.
Below is a simplified description table for the posters offered by Fine Old Posters (each lower grade may contain the flaws listed in the higher grades):
- Like new: rarely seen in original vintage posters. Mint is a term we seldom use with reference to original vintage posters.
- This poster has no paper loss, has retained fresh colors, and has no restoration. It is very clean with fresh, bright colors. It may not be perfect, but any minor flaws are unobtrusive and not harmful to the image area.
- The poster may have minor, unobtrusive restoration, perhaps minor age toning, evidence of folio folds. Unobtrusive is the key word here. Colors are strong. Any minor paper loss will be confined to the borders, not affecting the image area. This is the “normal” collectable condition for original vintage posters.
- The poster may have minor restoration, perhaps minor age toning, evidence of folio folds (like those graded A-). Colors are strong. Any minimal repairs will not detract from the quality of the image.
- Posters in this range are usually described as being in “very good condition.” There may be unobtrusive restoration of small missing pieces and/or repaired tears at the edges or at folio folds, but the work will not be detrimental to the quality of the image. Colors are fresh and the restoration is not considered “significant.”
- The paper may show minor evidence of handling. Paper toning may be evident. Paper acid burns at original folio folds may be evident.
- This poster is in fair to good condition with need for restoration or with restoration work which is evident. There may be minor paper loss, some fading in the image area, folds, or tears. The image, however, is intact and the artist’s intention is evident. Think of it as a book collector’s “reading copy.” The poster may not be the condition you want but you may never see this original poster again. If you need it to fill a gap in your collection, let the price be your guide.
- This grade denotes a poster with significant flaws: missing pieces, serious fading, poor restoration, dry mounting, etc. Unless you’re desperate, such posters are not considered collectable.
Unless otherwise noted, all posters have been “linen backed” using acid free paper and muslin. This procedure is archivally sound, improves the appearance of the poster and enhances the poster’s collectability and value. Read more about Linen Mounting.