Originating in France and primarily used as billboards for announcements and advertisements the vintage poster became popular in the 19th century due to the new and less expensive printing processes which also gave them their characteristic intense color. In the late 19th century and early 20th century they became the method of mass communication in the cities of Europe and then America and are the precursors to the modern day advertising industry. Without television and the internet, the vintage posters was a major source of communicating to the public.
Although originally created as advertising, well-known artists soon started creating their own posters. Artists like Toulouse-Lautrec, Cheret, Cappiello, Roby, Razzia and Andy Warhol, just to name a few. As a result, these posters were eventually considered real art and when poster shows began being organized in the late 19th century their credibility and cache were on the rise as a new art form.
There are so many subject matters used in vintage posters. They could be used to advertise all sorts of things such as events as dates for an event like operas, concerts, sports and later movies. They could advertise simple household products like soap, sewing machines, biscuits, and umbrellas. There are many posters advertising travel destinations and these were a major subject for the vintage poster, but perhaps the most famous and iconic subject for the vintage poster is liquor. Some of the most dramatic and most sought after posters were for alcoholic beverages. These “vices” posters, including cigarettes, can be extremely collectible and very high in price.
Still posters represent great value when considering the age and size of the work. Many posters can be had for under $1,000 especially the those printed in the later half of the 20th century, but some of the very old very famous posters are still under $3,000. When you consider what an original oil painting from a well known artist would cost the vintage poster is still a bargain.
The colors in vintage posters are bright and characteristic of the art itself. The printing process made for these intense colors and the designs were graphic and attention getting. To be noticed at a glance as opposed to studied like a subtle painting. This graphic quality makes these art pieces very much fun and very dramatic in the right space. Frequently they will make you laugh due to their comic and lighthearted nature. What’s not to like about a monkey drinking a bottle of anisette.
When buying vintage posters be sure to use a dealer who will certify the poster as authentic. Limited quantities of these posters survived unused in factories so you want to make sure yours is authentic. Of course there are many new copies of vintage posters but we wouldn’t recommend them. After all you wouldn’t put a copy of the Mona Lisa in your home would you?
Lastly be very sure your vintage poster is framed properly. They require archival acid-free framing since they are on paper, and you’ll want them under UV glass or plexiglass so they will not fade due to sunlight.
If you want to know more about vintage posters or need help deciding on size, subject, location and procurement feel free to contact us.