A Guide to Collecting Original Horror Posters

Movie poster artists have been frightening people into the cinemas with their scream inspiring designs for the best part of a century. To celebrate the coming of All Hallows’ Eve, gallery owner Bruce Marchant gives his expert insights into this creepy but utterly compelling genre, that, more so than any other, attracts the obsessive and life-long collectors.

What has happened to the price of horror posters in recent years?

It’s a very strong genre. The earliest horror film posters dating back to the 1920/30s have gone crazy, and the 1950s examples have seen a consistent rise too. The early Hammer Horror posters have become very collectable, and a market now exists for the later titles and their respective posters, which is no surprise.

Why does the horror genre hold such appeal?

This genre is different from anything else, and historically the films and their posters have stirred a unique fascination. As early as the silent era the love of the horror movie was born, with hits such as The Cabinet of Dr Calagari and The Phantom of the Opera drawing in the teens and 1920s cinema crowds. Taking it even earlier, Thomas Edison was responsible for releasing an early short film of Frankenstein in 1910. This genre therefore truly spanned the twentieth century and its popularity has never abated.

Is it one of the most collected poster types?

I would say it isn’t necessarily the most collected, but horror posters are the most expensive. It was the first type of film poster to start being seriously collected back in the 1960s. So the market is mature and as a consequence, prices are now very high.

What’s more important to a collector – the title or the poster itself?

From the 1950s to the 1970s many of the poster designs were better than the films themselves. The 1930s were when the best movies were made, largely produced by Universal Studios.  The success of these early horror films saved the studio from bankruptcy. From this adversity some of the best ever horror movies were made – Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, The Invisible Man and The Wolf Man.

Did Universal Studios specialise in horror more so than any other studio?

In the 1930s Universal Studios made more horror films than any other studio. Its horror back catalogue is unrivalled. As well as paving the way in the 1930s, all the late 50s and early 60s Hammer Films were released in America through Universal.

RKO as a response employed Russian-American film producer Val Lewton in the 1940s, who had success with Cat PeopleI Walked with a ZombieThe Leopard Man and The Body Snatcher, but in truth no other studio has really come close to Universal’s repertoire.

Which is the quintessential horror poster for collectors?

The 1931 teaser for Frankenstein. There is only one known, which creates even more mystery around it. To me it looks a bit like a Warhol painting.

Personal fearsome favourite?

I remember seeing the teaser poster for The Omen and thinking that is genuinely chilling. The special style poster for The Exorcist is another one that stays with you – in a sinister sense. Both share an overuse of black and monochrome style. I also like the teaser for The Invisible Man from 1933. With the words “Catch me if you Can” looping across the artwork. Such a cool poster and incredibly rare. There are less than half a dozen known to exist.

What advice would you give a collector starting out?

Unless you have very deep pockets, I’m afraid you can ignore Universal, as their classic 1930s titles, such as FrankensteinDracula and The Mummy, are now each commanding well over £200,000.

If you are in search of entry level, then the later Hammer Horror posters are more affordable, such as The Brides of Dracular (1960), Curse of the Werewolf (1961) and Dracula Prince of Darkness (1965).

One of the titles that I believe has a great future as an investment is the 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Remember the market will continue to rise for posters kept in pristine condition. Later horror blockbusters like Alien are slowly rising in value. This title currently exists in higher numbers and is therefore less expensive to buy, particularly if you can get your hands on the 1979 teaser. Also check out titles like Rosemary’s Baby and The Evil Dead.

Browse the Gallery’s full selection of original horror posters by clicking here.

A Guide to Collecting Original James Bond Posters

With the release of Spectre this autumn Bond fever is heightening, and with every new release, this multi billion franchise reaches a new generation. The legacy of James Bond is not only immortalised in the movies themselves, but also in the iconic poster artwork designed to drive hoards of fans to cinema houses.  From the 1962 release of Dr. No over 50 years on, the collectors’ market for James Bond original posters represents three generations of collectors, and with every year the market continues to heat up.

Gallery owner Bruce Marchant provides his expert tips on collecting some of the most coveted movie posters of all time:

What has happened to the price of James Bond posters in recent years?

Twenty years ago original Bond posters were in the low hundreds, whereas today any poster for Sean Connery’s first four Bond films are now in the thousands. This is due to supply and demand. Naturally, there is a shortage of mint condition posters of the early titles due to their age. Early Roger Moore titles like Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun, have steadily increased in the last few years. After Roger Moore, the demand drops so prices plateau.

Is there a fakes market?

They are reproduced, but in different sizes and different paper stock. This is not done to fool anyone, but for somebody to buy a £5 poster copy to pin on their bedroom wall. Any expert would be able to identify an original James Bond poster for a client.

Which James Bond poster is most collectable?

The original British Goldfinger is the most desirable – not the most valuable but the most desirable – because it is such a well-loved title.

Which James Bond poster has the most celebrated design?

It’s down to everyone’s particular taste, however personally it would have to be the original British poster for From Russia with Love. The artwork is different to other early Bond posters, as the hugely talented Italian artist Renato Fratini (1932-1973) was commissioned to design this British poster.

How much did artwork vary country to country?

Quite dramatically until the early 1980s, as the film distributors would commission an artist to design posters for the release of the film in their own country. So for each title release, poster design would vary wildly internationally – from Japan to Germany, Italy to the US. This a major reason why the poster collector’s market for Bond today is so rich, as each country put their stamp on the movie, creating wonderfully varied styles often in different sizes. With the coming of the 80s however, the studio introduced global themes with the aim of cost saving and the work of design teams around the world become more uniform – displaying common variations of the British design.

Which country’s poster designs are the most valuable?

British posters as a rule are the most valuable and the most collected, but there are cases where highly collectable pieces originate from the US – like doors panels for American movie houses. Prices have sky rocketed for complete sets that are in excellent condition.

Which James Bond actor is the most collectable?

Sean Connery posters are certainly the most valuable and collected. While everyone has their opinion, Connery is perceived by the majority of collectors to be the quintessential, original James Bond star. Roger Moore, as the longest running Bond, is a close second.

Connery and Moore posters also exist in far fewer numbers than their later protégés. After Moore’s final film A View to a Kill in the mid eighties, far more posters were produced and survived. As print numbers increase, the market lowers and poster are more affordable – the perfect entry point for these collectables.

Will modern James Bond posters become collectable?

Again the sheer number of posters printed dictates that it would take many years until these posters become remotely scarce, and therefore reach higher prices. Also one must consider the impact of the digital age. If we take Spectre and Skyfall as examples, they are photographic posters that use images of Daniel Craig to attract the viewer.  While there have been some relatively attractive posters in recent years like Goldeneye and The World Is Not Enough, the craftsmanship in the artwork does not exist as it once did. For all the early Bond films, characters and scenes were hand drawn and painted to create the artwork, and from there printed and distributed. There was no photoshop or computers, just artwork. That’s what people want to collect.

Is it possible to buy James Bond original artwork?

Original artwork for many poster collectors is the ‘holy grail’ as the piece is completely unique, and the prototype for all subsequent posters. Unfortunately in the case of the early Bonds, when these posters were being painted, no value was given to the artwork itself, and once the posters had been printed, the artwork was often discarded. Those artworks which have survived and appeared on the market, have sold for tens of thousands of pounds.

View original artworks from other titles at the Gallery

Shop our full range of James Bond available online.

Spectre is released in UK cinemas on October 26th 2015.