Vintage Poster Conditions

Vintage posters started life as advertising destined for display in public places, on the sides of busses, in businesses, in railway and underground stations and the like. In 19th century Paris, the now famous street kiosks provided opportunities for the great poster art of the Belle Epoque era. Vintage posters were designed to capture interest at a moment’s glance and to captivate the viewer.

Posters were usually printed on low quality paper, good enough to hold the image, but not of sufficient quality to endure preservation over time. This was disposable art that was designed to last as long as the ad campaign they supported.

Fortunately they have lasted a lot longer through collectors and print overruns. Collectors appreciated the beauty of the art when first published and sought out the ad agency or printer. These same printers and ad agencies usually had extra copies in some quantity, should the ad campaign prove highly successful and the client request more copies.

Most vintage posters on the market today have been linen mounted to preserve the poster. Linen mounting is a reversible process that provides substantial backing to the paper and protects the edges from damage. When first mounted, the linen usually extends a few inches beyond the poster itself. The framing of the poster may result in the linen being trimmed – its personal preference, but we usually like small posters (20″ x 24″ or smaller) matted to add emphasis to the image, while larger posters look better with a simple frame and no matting. Some posters are so large (some as large as 48″ by 72″) that matting becomes impracticable unless the display area is oversized. All of our posters are linen mounted but some may be trimmed to the size of the poster itself – if it is an issue to you, let us know.

Linen mounting also allows for restoration. Professional poster restoration is a fine art in itself. When necessary, we use one of the best.  With most  of our posters it is not necessary, but if it is, we’ll let you know in our description of the poster. Because vintage posters were usually stored flat and not folded, condition issues are rare. This is different than with movie posters that were folded for storage and shipment and thumb tacked to a display case.

Vintage posters come in all sizes and formats, depending on the dictates of the intended location of the poster and the size of printing presses used in the many countries involved.  Small posters were intended for places where the audience would be close – like the overhead of a bus or the facing wall of a train or subway car. Small posters are usually under 20″ x 24″. The most common size posters have one dimension in the 24″ to 30″ range and the other in the 36″ to 42″ range.  These were the street posters, designed for areas with large population flow, on the Kiosks in Paris, the train stations, store fronts, and businesses. They view well from across a room and fit most viewing areas. The last are the large posters. These are big with the smallest dimension over 42″ and the largest dimension up to 72″ (six feet). Large posters are stunning from any viewpoint and dominate the setting. If you have the space a great large poster is perfect.

Feel free to ask questions about the condition of any of our posters.