Tis the season to be animated !

Tis the season to be animated !

The most famous mouse in the world, Mickey, celebrated his 90th birthday last month, and with this in mind we thought that we would write again about animation.

This genre, more than any other, reaches everyone, and has no boundaries to age or sex.  Walt and Roy Disney founded their company in 1923 and along with their creative team were revolutionary in bringing animation to life on the big screen. The first full-length animated feature film was Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937.

The history of animation began forty-six years before Disney was founded when the French inventor, Charles-Emile Reynaud, patented the praxinoscope, the first device to project animated shorts.

There were a number of very early animation filmmakers who had been experimenting with stop-motion animation since 1899.  One of the first and most famous was J. Stuart Blackton, a British-American producer and director, who is considered the father of American animation. Blackton’s 1907 short The Haunted Hotel was very successful, and inspired other filmmakers to try their hand at this new technique.  The process Blackton adopted, stop-action, was first used by Georges Melies and others.

Emile Cohl, a French caricaturist, created the earliest known traditional hand-drawn animated film, Fantasmagorie, in 1908.  Animated short films became known as cartoons in the 1910s, and became a separate industry.  Many shorts were made and shown in movie theatres.  John Randolph Bray and Earl Hurd, pioneering American animators produced many films at this time, and patented the cel animation process, which dominated the industry for the balance of the decade.  Around the world animators were experimenting with a variety of different techniques in animation filmmaking.

The first animated short to completely use Technicolor was by Walt Disney in the Silly Symphonies’ cartoon Flowers and Trees in 1932.

Tom and Jerry’s creatures William Hanna and Joseph Barbera founded Hanna-Barbera in 1957, and were a leading force in American television animation.

The process for making animated films has changed over the years, with Toy Story heralding the way in 1995 with the first fully computer animated film.

In today’s global world we are very fortunate to have access to animations from all corners of the globe, and have noticed a particular interest in films made by the Japanese film studio Studio Ghibli, who were founded in 1985.

It is interesting to see how the history of animation has evolved from its simple beginnings to the changes that have been made along the way with the invention of new technologies and equipment.  Although the techniques used in creating animations have changed drastically over the years, the magic that is creates still enthrals audiences to this day.

Here are a few of our favourites…..











That’s all folks !














Collecting Horror Posters

Halloween is nearly upon us, so we thought that we’d pick gallery owner Bruce Marchant’s brain (not literally !) about collecting horror posters.  This genre has ignited collectors’ imaginations since its chilling beginning in 1896.

We last wrote an article on horror posters three years ago, and thought that as the market has changed in this area, it was time to revisit this much loved and collected genre.

Why is the horror genre so highly collected ?

This genre has always been highly collected.  Our fascination with horror films started in 1896 when one of cinema’s pioneers, George Melies, created Le Manoir du Diable, a short film about an encounter with the devil.

Horror films draw us into their web of terror, macabre and the supernatural, and also overlap with other genres.  It may all go back to our primal fears, and the ultimate good versus evil. Whatever it is we are back being curious children, wanting to be scared and at the edge of our seat, not knowing what to expect, with our hearts racing.

From that moment on we were hooked, and this fixation has not appeased. Our love of the films themselves has transferred onto the posters that are designed to ignite our desire to see the films.

What are the most famous horror film posters ?

There are three horror film posters that always attract huge attention – Frankenstein (1931), Dracula (1931) and The Mummy (1932).  Universal Pictures, who made many horror films from the 1920s onwards, produced these three films.  The success of the early horror films saved the studio from bankruptcy.

Posters for these titles are extremely rare.  There are various styles and sizes of posters for each film, with only five or less examples of each known to exist.  As a result the posters sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Do the best and most popular horror films have the greatest posters ?

Not necessarily.  I personally do not like the main poster for Frankenstein or all but one of the posters for Dracula. I think that the artwork is not great, and there are other far superior posters in the genre.  Some of the less high profile films, such as The Invisible Man (1933) and Supernatural (1933) have far more evocative artwork.

What is the artistry in designing horror film posters ?

Designers of horror film posters, like those for other film posters, need to draw in the audience.  They need to convey just enough of the theme to draw us in, and not scare us off too much. This can and has been done using a variety of different techniques – sinister photography, menacing colour schemes, chilling typography and doomy taglines.  Here are a few examples …









Are the main collectors all in America ?

Historically the main collectors were in America, but this has now spread to all over the world.  The more recent interest in posters for Hammer Films, a British film production company based in London and founded in 1934.  The company is best known for its gothic horror films made in the mid-1950s until the 1970s.  The interest in Hammer posters has increased their value and made them highly collectable. The market for Hammer posters is being driven by collectors in the UK.

What is your ultimate horror poster ?

If I could have just one horror poster it would have to be the British poster for Dead of Night (1945).  I love this film and the detailed artwork by Leslie George Hurry, who truly captured the essence of this Ealing horror classic.

What advice do you have for new horror collectors

The market has changed since 2015.  The Hammer market has continued to grow, and Hammer double bill posters that were once ignored are now selling for thousands of pounds.

Unless you have extremely deep pockets and are able to pick up some of the highly collectable and expensive pieces, my recommendations would be to buy some great titles from the 1970s and 1980s, such as The Omen, Alien, Evil Dead. These are all good entry point pieces.


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

La Poster è Bella: A Guide to Collecting Italian Posters

Nowhere else in the world is poster design more of an art form than it is in Italy. In the country’s golden era, classical painting fused with the fantasy of cinema and the result was intoxicating. Inspired by the cinematic extravaganza of this year’s Venice Film Festival, The Reel Poster Gallery thought it appropriate to bring to the fore this heavyweight in poster design – more dazzling than any film festival red carpet..

How would you characterise Italian posters?

The golden era of Italian posters spanned 1930s – 50s, and posters of this period are immediately recognisable because of their signature glamorised painterly style. This approach was dramatically different to British and American posters that portrayed the actors more realistically.  Contrasting styles can easily be seen with the US and Italian posters for American film noir White Heat (1949).

From the 1960s onwards Italian posters, like those in other parts of the world, also adopted a more photographic aesthetic as the ‘photo montage’ came into being.

Italian artists during the golden era were often classically trained and had a far more creative scope than their counterparts, as distributors could alter style briefs as they liked to increase the seduction of a poster. The glamorisation of women and a flaming colour palette were Italian poster trademarks.

Creative license was not limited only to the image but often used on the title as well. The Italian distributors would change the original title of the film to suit their domestic market, and to increase its allure or to heighten suspense; Rope (1948) starring James Stewart was changed to Nodo alla Gola or ‘Lump in the Throat’, Cover Girl / Il Fascino (1944) translates to ‘The Charm’, Peeping Tom (1960) appears as L’Occhio Che Uccide or ‘The Eye that Can Kill’; or quite brilliantly Rawhide (1966) was translated to Il Magnifico Straniero, ‘The Magnificant Stranger’.

The sum of all this creative adaptation meant Italy produced some of the best posters ever created, and certainly some of the gallery’s favourites.

Which artists are most collectable?

Anselmo Ballester (1897 – 1974) and Luigi Martinati (1893 – 1983) are two stand-out Italian artists that dominated the golden era of Italian poster art. Both attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, and in the mid 1940s they went into business together, along with fellow artist Alfredo Capitani, to create BCM studio dedicated to film poster advertising.

Both artists were greatly influenced by classical painter Federico Ballester who was father to Anselmo and tutor to Luigi Martinati.

View all Ballester posters currently in stock.

View all Martinati posters currently in stock.

What are the most important Italian posters?

The Italian posters for classic Italian films like Stromboli (1950), Fellini’s 8 ½ (1963), and of course Le Dolce Vita (1960), are very collectable and command high prices.

Also the Italian versions of major US titles are incredibly popular with collectors. Gilda (1946) and Lady from Shanghai (1947) are stand out examples. The US poster for The Lady From Shanghai is very collectable and sells for thousands, but Ballester’s version has the status of a masterpiece in the collector’s market and sells for tens of thousands.

What advice would you give a collector starting out?

To get started I would explore 28 x 13 in. size posters, also known as ‘Locandina’. These small Italian posters were created to go outside the cinema in a glass display case, and so are relatively well preserved in contrast to larger posters of the same design (79 x 55 in. ) that were glued to billboards. Unsurprisingly few of these larger posters survived and so their rarity means they are highly sought after and valuable. Smaller posters are also easy to house, low cost to frame, and still feature the same spellbinding imagery – a great place to start your collection.

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