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ANTIQUES & COLLECTING: Posters in the frame; Those childhood pennies invested in posters of your favourite filmstars could now net you a tidy reward. Sally Hoban explains.

Byline: Sally Hoban

So you've bought the DVD, the music soundtrack and the book for your favourite film, but somehow that just isn't enough. Well why not invest in an original poster?

When they were first made, film posters were designed purely as advertising tools to promote the film.

Now they have become collectables in their own right as they immortalise the Hollywood stars of the day and celebrate their best films.

The vogue for collecting film posters originally began in the USA and later spread to Britain, with their popularity and prices beginning to soar in the 1980s.

But it's not just film posters that are collectable, as music posters (whether promoting singles, albums or concerts) also attract premium prices if they are for a famous band like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, or for seminal solo artists like Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan.

Posters and artwork created for the most famous films, both in terms of box office takings and critical acclaim, will always be in demand by collectors and will attract the highest prices.

Other film memorabilia, such as handbills, front of house promotional photos, counter-shop displays and even ticket stubs for early showings of iconic films like Star Wars or The Godfather, will also have a value.

As with all antiques and collectables, the condition of a poster is vital.

Watch out for rips, stains, marks where a piece has been pinned up or hung on a wall with sellotape, moisture damage or printing errors as these can all affect the value and appeal of a poster (except in rare cases for early films where only a couple of examples have survived).

When you've got your poster, frame it behind glass and ideally display it out of direct sunlight to minimise colour fading.

Original British and American posters are becoming rarer, so over the last few years collectors have begun to branch out into buying examples of famous film posters from Europe and other countries, with examples from Italy, Poland, France and Japan now appearing on the market.

Internet auction sites are an excellent source for these examples, but watch out for modern reproduction posters for classic films that are advertised as originals.

Another affordable way to start collecting film advertising is through lobby cards, which were printed on heavy board and usually include a title art card and a series of separate photographic stills showing scenes from the film.

Posters come in several sizes. The US paper one-sheet is the most common example on the collectors' market and these come in a standard size of approximately 104 x 70cm and usually have one vertical and two horizontal folds.

In Britain, the one-sheet is known as the quad. Three-sheet paper posters are larger and were printed in two or three separate sheets.

These are the rarest examples to survive as they were made to be pasted on to billboards.

Christie's auctioneers will hold its latest sale of film posters tomorrow at its South Kensington branch.

It is one of the biggest sales of its kind to date and includes posters for films starring Hollywood greats including Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Marlene Dietrich, Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood.

All film genres are represented in the sale, including classic early films from the 1930s, musicals, film-noir, westerns and science fiction.

Leading the sale is a very rare Austrian poster from the classic film Blonde Venus, which was released in 1932. Starring Marlene Dietrich in her most famous role, the poster is expected to attract pounds 15,000-pounds 20,000 as only one example of this posterhas previously appeared at auction. A rare American three-sheet from Charlie Chaplin's 1936 satirical film Modern Times carries an estimate of pounds 10,000-pounds 15,000, while a British one-sheet for the cult 1966 Michael Caine film The Ipcress File is priced at the more affordable end of the market with a pre-sale estimate of pounds 1,000-pounds 1,500.

If you want to spend a little more, you can get your very own slice of Rita Hayworth's seductive beauty through a stunning French poster for the 1942 film Gilda, which gave cinema-goers a real touch of glamour (and racing heart beats) in the austere war years. This is expected to sell for pounds 2,000-pounds 3,000.

There's a real treat on offer for science-fiction fans in the sale, with the chance to invest in a poster from the original 1950s film version of HG Wells' novel The War of the Worlds, which was recently remade by Steven Spielberg. This is expected to attract pounds 6,000-pounds 8,000.

The 1950s was the golden age of sci-fi in America, with writers such as Arthur C Clark, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov thrilling readers with tales of Martians and space adventure, and directors producing film classics such as The Thing, The Blob and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Posters from all these films are extremely desirable today.

If you're looking for a hefty dose of kitsch or classic British humour, you could invest in some Hammer House of Horror posters which will be sold in this sale in group lots with prices ranging from around pounds 400, or posters from some of the 1960s Carry On... films.

These are still very affordable and are a good investment now as the particular kind of Britishness they represent is rapidly receding from memory.

James Bond is always a favourite among film poster collectors and pounds 1,000-pounds 1,500 will buy you an original 1964 poster for Goldfinger, which starred Sean Connnery and Honor Blackman.

Think of 007 and you inevitably think of Aston Martin, and one of the most unusual lots in this sale is a rare Aston Martin poster which was used to promote the car in the 1965 Bond film Thunderball. This poster is expected to sell for around pounds 1,500-pounds 2,000For further sale details, log on to www.christies.com

CAPTION(S):

Christie's holds its latest sale of film posters tomorrow at its South Kensington branch. It is one of the biggest sales of its kind to date and includes posters from all film genres including this Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany's poster from 1961 which is estimated to sell for pounds 400-600
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 10, 2005
Words:1047
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