A Guide to Collecting Original James Bond Posters

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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.