How to Spot Fake Original Vintage Movie Posters

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Unfortunately many fake original vintage movie posters end up finding their way onto eBay. Most of these are in the one-sheet (27" x 41") format and some of the individuals selling them are unaware they are selling a fake. But there are numerous shady dealers that know they are reprints but are selling them as “originals” and, these are regularly bought by unsuspecting collectors.
So how do we check to see if the movie poster we are thinking of purchasing is indeed a genuine original vintage movie poster. There is no real foolproof way to do it as even the most experience dealers have been caught but here is a checklist of things to look for in a fake movie poster.
  1. One way these shady characters sell their fake original vintage movie posters is by listing them one or two at a time and when those are sold, they list more and, tend to have an endless supply. They will often say they have “uncovered” a warehouse full of them. The chances of finding multiple mint copies of rare and hard-to-find genuine original vintage one-sheet movie posters will be very rare but not entirely impossible.
  2. Another telltale sign is if the person is selling them significantly cheaper than the true market value. Due diligence here, do some research on the particular original vintage movie poster you wish to buy and determine the true market value. If its too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Check the sellers’ feedback and click on the “view item” link on the far right. If they have sold multiple copies all in mint condition it is a good possibility they are fakes, especially the rare hard-to-find movie posters. If the “view item” link is not there then beware, why is it not there, what are they trying to hide?
  4. Are they trying to sell the poster in a "PRIVATE" auction? Dishonest sellers often make their auctions private so you can't see the bidders identities and therefore, honest collectors and dealers cannot warn bidders that they are about to be ripped off.
  5. Nearly all of the older pre-1980 original vintage movie posters, inserts, daybills and one-sheets, were folded (not rolled) by the movie distribution house before shipping out to the movie theatres. Some collectors’ do flatten and then roll their folded posters but if it is not a rolled previously folded poster and has no fold lines, then it’s more than likely a fake.
  6. Most fake reprints being past off as original vintage movie posters are normally “minty white” particularly on the borders and have a different feel to the paper; it looks and feels “new”. Genuine original vintage movie posters were printed on lesser quality paper than what is available today and as such; tend to get age browning (acid tanning) particularly around the border edges. However, it is possible to find mint copies still in reams or rolls as issued to movie houses (we have seen them) particularly in the Australian daybill (13" x 30") format.
  7. Is it printed on glossy paper, usually both sides? This has not been used on any other type of movie poster other than bootlegs… ever!
  8. Many of the “fake” original vintage movie posters are not issued by the actual studios e.g. 20th Century Fox, or official distribution companies like National Screen Service (NSS) or country of origin printers. Genuine original United States one-sheet NSS issues will also be numbered in the bottom right corner e.g. 55/671, the first digits being the release date. Some “fakes” will have the studio name and the NSS wording and numbering but the logo, wording and numbering will be slightly blurred but this can also happen during the printing process. Remember these posters were produced to be destroyed after the film run was finished.
  9. There are printers, mostly overseas (some licensed, some not) that copy the real studio issued posters. Sometimes they are marked as reprints, sometimes they aren't.
  10. Many overseas countries, like Australia, found it more economical to print the posters within their own country. They were sent basic artwork but most were then produced using local artists who produced many varied and graphically stunning posters, which have now become highly collectible.

Please Note: The “fake” and reprint movie posters that are circulating appear to be still mainly just the one-sheets (27" x 40" or 27" x 41" pre: 1985) as these were considered by many collectors as the preferred format.

However, we have found that inserts (14” x 36”) and Australian daybills (13” x 30”) are gaining popularity with collectors’ because of their size and ease of display (they do not take up as much room on your wall). These formats are generally much rarer than a one sheet and studios stopped issuing these in the early 1980's but the Australian daybills were produced for a little longer.
Personally, we go for the artwork and aesthetic value of the poster regardless of its size, and that includes many awesome foreign posters by renowned local artists.

Good luck with your collecting and we hope this guide has been helpful. This guide provided by Auction Hut Australia please check out our store:
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