Original Vintage Posters


What are original vintage posters?

When a poster is described as original it means that it came from the first or original printing run. This does not mean it is unique or one-of-a-kind as advertising posters are printed in mass. Rather, this means it is an original-period piece printed in the actual year listed on the product page, with the artist signature or in the margin of the image.


What size were the print runs?

Print runs typically produced between a few hundred to a few thousand posters. Although, for collecting purposes the size of a print run is less relevant or interesting than the number of given posters that survived. Posters are essentially ephemera fulfilling their purposes as advertising. They are created to be posted outdoors for a few weeks, where they deteriorate in the elements, are torn down or covered over by another poster. Therefore, tracking the number of posters left in circulation is difficult.


How were posters printed?

Many forms of printing techniques are used with speed, ease, cost, and quality of image in mind.

In the 1880's significant advancements were made in the technical production of printed media with color stone lithography which made rapid color printing in volume possible. Today, the primary technology used for printing is offset lithography which came into production in the U.S after World War I. While in France, this faster method of production was largely adopted after the 1940's.


Why are so many of your posters French?

Many reasons, firstly French is used in parts of Belgium, Switzerland, Italy,Monaco etc. giving a poster a very wide distribution.

In the early 20th Century France had a large middle class with an interest in and money to spend on art. While they may not have been able to afford a painting, there was a large following in colorful posters that many people collected to decorate their homes. In 1880, Paris had a thriving poster scene with over forty important dealers and many poster exhibitions. They were so influential during this time that costume parties were thrown where people would come dressed as a figure in a poster that had hanging in the streets. Another reason posters were so plentiful in France is partly due to the fact that official proclamations always had assigned places to be posted, so the idea to treat posters in a similar fashion quickly followed. In Vienna, the idea to cover open sewer vents with metal pipes created a new platform for billposters, who began to cover them completely with their printed ephemera. Not long after Paris took up the same idea. The French have always had second hand shops and weekly flea markets so posters always had a way to trade. In the turn of the last century, many collectors quickly ran out of space to hang their work which helped create the beginning of the making of the L'Maitre de L'Affice, The  Masters of the poster ,  was a publication created by the Father of the Modern Poster, Jules Cheret. If you subscribed you would receive 4 prints a month which were meant to be the best posters of the month.


Why do you find some vintage posters in such great condition?

When a poster is found in great condition it usually means that it was never used due to either print over runs or minor mistakes during printing. On rare occasions printers might print double the run for clients who had a habit of reordering. As the main cost in printing is the preparation of the lithographic stone, setup time and labor (after that there is only paper and ink costs) doubling print runs meant that printers could make huge profits off clients who reordered. Of course this had it's own risks, sometimes the printers would estimate incorrectly and be stuck with the overrun.


What is poster and print conservation and restoration?

At the Poster Museum we work with conservators when a poster requires restoration. We take great care in handling the paper, using high quality acid free materials for the best presentation and overall longevity of the documents. After carefully reviewing the document for tape, writing and focusing on areas requiring special attention due to wear and tear linen is applied to the back of the paper for conservation purposes.  Linen backing is a three step process where a canvas is stretched like a painting over a large screen, acid free paper is applied with a wheat paste. Finally, the document is placed on top of the paper using a roller and left to dry for a minimum of one week. If any areas of the original document is missing we do our best to match those areas with paper adding color if necessary. 


How have you come to find so many incredible posters?

Philip has been collecting posters since the 1970's, his posters are sourced from all over the world.


Why are posters valuable?

Posters have been collected from the moment they were visible on the streets. Today, they are highly sought after by collectors across the globe. First of all, posters have been collected because they are beautiful and this has been a major contributing factor to their survival given their intended nature as ephemera. Secondly, most advertising posters were only printed once because original lithography stones were almost always reused by print houses. After a print run was finished printers were able to reuse a stone by grounding off the original design making it suitable for creating another poster.

The value of a given poster is usually determined by the following set of criteria: artist, rarity, condition and topic. Posters are valuable because they were printed in limited runs and most were discarded or deteriorated over time. As the popularity of a given poster rises so do the pool of buyers interested in it - inevitably increasing its value.


Do vintage posters increase in value?

Yes, there has been a steady increase for the last 40 or more years.


How are vintage posters usually displayed?

We recommend that you frame your vintage poster professionally. A framer will mount a poster to a piece of acid free foam core board with acid free tape and a hinge. Once mounted the poster is then ready for framing using a moulding of your choice. Plexiglas is our preferred treatment as it reduces the weight and the chance of damage due to breakage. UV plexiglas is also recommended as this will protect the poster from uv damage. The Poster Museum offers framing in store and to New York residents only.


Ordering and Payment


Can I change or Cancel my order?

We except cancellations as long as we are notified prior to shipment which usually occurs 1 to 3 business days after payment. If you wish to cancel your order please contact us immediately via email or telephone and have ready your order number.


What are my payment options?

We accept Visa, MasterCard, Diners, Discover, JCB and American Express.


What Currency is the site in?

All prices are defaulted in US dollars. 


Shipping and Taxes


Where is The Poster Museum Located?

The Poster Museum is located in New York City at the following address:

122 Chambers St

New York, NY



Do the pieces include taxes?

No, If we ship within New York State we must collect 8.875% sales tax.


Do you ship internationally?

Yes, we ship to most international countries.


Shipping fees?

Shipping fees vary from country to country. For US shipments we charge a flat rate of $20 USD, while international prices vary. Please note that this does not include country taxes or duties which may or may not be incurred from your country's border custom control agency.


Does The Poster Museum insure all shipments?

Yes, all shipments are insured in case of loss or damage.


Tracking Orders

All international shipments can be tracked using the tracking code included in a confirmation email we will send after payments have been processed.


When will my order be shipped?

Orders are usually processed and shipped in 1 to 3 business days after the order date.


How do I know that my order has been shipped?

We will send a confirmation email when the order has been shipped which will include a tracking number and link to the post office website.


How long will shipping take? 

Shipping durations vary from country to country, however, one can usually expect to receive their parcel within 7-14 days.


How do I track my order?

The confirmation email will give you your tracking number along with a link to the post office website. Follow the prompts on the website to obtain your tracking information.




What is you return policy?

When choosing a poster it is important to bear in mind its historical and original quality as most posters are extremely old and were never made to last. While, the majority of our posters are in extremely good condition, having been conserved and linen backed, many posters will undoubtedly show aging in the form of slight nicks and tears. Please inspect the poster carefully before making a purchase by using the zoom function that is available on each product page. Clicking on the image will increase its size where you have the ability to then zoom-in even further. This function gives you the ability to see up close and in full detail the posters true condition. This is one of the most important features on the website as it allows our customers to make informed decisions on the poster that best suits their needs. While, we believe that minor tears and folds are marks of time and reveal its true nature as ephemera, we also understand that sometimes things just don't work out. In such circumstance a full refunded can be made as long as the following guidelines are adhered to:

  • We accept returns 7 days after the delivery, after this time all sales are considered final.
  • The piece must be returned in the same original condition.
  • The return shipping costs are the responsibility of the customer.


How do I proceed if I want to make a return?

Please call or Email us within 48 hours after receiving the poster. 


When will my purchase be refunded?

After we have inspected the returned item we will process the refund within 1-3 days.


What if my purchase is damaged?

Keep the tube or packing and contact us and the shipping company immediately.