A Quick Guide to Authenticity: The Concept of Originals
Given the vastness of the market, there truly is something for everyone when it comes to collecting movie posters. As such, it’s easy to find a cinematic treasure no matter where your interests lie (or how small your budget may be).
The only difficulty is knowing where to start, and the concept of what actually constitutes an ‘original’ can throw a lot of new collectors.
In a nutshell, it simply means that the poster was issued for use in promoting or advertising a film – usually in theaters – and not for general sale to the public.
Confusingly however, while nearly all original posters were at one time issued by the National Screen Service, there are a handful movie posters which have been issued by another party (such as by the studio, directly studio or a third-party promo company) and they are still considered to be original. In fact, an even smaller portion of these were never meant to be seen by the public and were intended for industry-insider eyes only. Given their very limited release and circulation, these can be highly desirable and crop up from time to time in forgotten collections and on display in LA film schools.
To further complicate matters, most NSS-issued posters have their own NSS number, usually stamped or printed near the bottom. But a word of warning: a poster can be an original without an NSS number, and just because a movie poster has one doesn’t mean it’s genuine (since the tag is easily faked).
Re-issues, Re-releases and Re-strikes
In terms of originality, it mainly boils down to how ‘authorized’ the poster is; as such, the term ‘reprint’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘fake’ if the print run was conducted by the NSS in an official capacity, and would therefore be an original. Of course, there are plenty of unauthorized reprints out there which are not to be considered originals. These are generally made by fraudsters looking to sell them as the real deal, and are generally easy to identify if you know what you’re looking for.
What aren’t easy to identify are NSS re-strikes, which are authorized but in this case not considered to be original. These were intentionally printed for sales purposes by the NSS or the studio behind a movie, and since they come from the same source, look virtually identical. But as they were mass-produced and not intended for theater display reasons, these are not ‘original’ in any sense and are unfit for investment purposes.
Re-releases are another matter altogether. In the event of a movie’s cinematic re-release (usually a massively popular film), a new poster will be issued to go with it. It can vary massively from the original or not at all, but either way it’s still an ‘original’ in its own right albeit slightly less desirable (in a collectibility sense, at least).
One telling mark is that a re-release poster generally has an ‘R’ prefixing the NSS number.
A Quick Word on Fakes
Avoiding shady or unverifiable sellers is essential if you’re serious about steering clear of fakes. Without naming names, as a general rule online auction sites can act as the primary hunting grounds for scammers. As mentioned, for the most part they’re easy to spot but as technology (and determination) progresses some fraudsters even fool seasoned experts from time to time. Some notable examples:
- Kerry Haggard was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison in 2012 following a string of high-quality poster frauds over the course of seven years. Along with an alleged accomplice (who protested innocence and was never charged), Haggard sold numerous desirable poster replicas convincing enough to pass at auction, nine of which sold for $93k.
- Thomas Rega very nearly got away with a sale of three ultra-rare posters at auction – including a Dracula style B one-sheet – before the elaborate fake was uncovered at the last moment. The Dracula poster alone, if sold, was estimated to fetch around $225,000.
- If you think it’s a skill faking existing posters to indistinguishable standards, consider the work of Pascal Witaszek. In a light-hearted example of poster fakery, Witaszek’s imagining of a non-existent Walt Disney biopic was so credible it started a viral buzz in which scores of people believed it to be a real upcoming movie. Sadly, it’s not.
Don’t Be Put Off – Start Building a Collection Today
Whether you’re looking for something to simply hang on the wall or for a serious memorabilia investment, we take the hard work of authentication out of the equation. Allmoviereplicas.com offer a great range of guaranteed original posters, all of which are in mint condition in a variety of styles and prices.
Movie posters make for superb talking points in a home and with prices as low as $30, they can also serve as thoughtful gifts. In addition, not only can movie posters serve as a fairly solid alternative investment, they provide immediate gratification upon receipt; unlike buying a bottle of 1959 Chateau d’Yquem and keeping it locked in a hermetically sealed box for years, movie posters don’t require any special storage (for the most part) and can be displayed without fear of damaging your investment.
Written by: New York Film Academy