Saturday, January 31, 2004

Beware of recently reproduced posters

By Anne Gilbert
Enquirer Contributor

Some dealers argue that it doesn't matter if a poster is a stone lithograph, offset lithography taken directly from the original painting or a "vintage" original. They say it isn't the technique that sets the value, but the artist, image, rarity, condition and current demand. Nevertheless, if you are paying thousands, a poster should show a bit of age or provenance.

The fakes or recent reproductions will be produced by photo-offset. Use a strong magnifying glass. If the poster is a lithograph, lines will look as if they have been drawn by crayon and spatter areas will look like spattered paint. When a photo-offset process is used, a strong magnifying glass will show dots and lines called a dot matrix. If a poster is signed by hand by the artist rather than signed on the lithographic stone, the price can double or triple.

When in the market, learn as much about the original poster as possible. Check out the size of the original; if the poster is a different size, it's a reproduction.

I recently spotted a charming poster, "Clinique Cheron," 26 by 18 inches, plus frame and mat, for $35 in a small antique shop. It was marked "Steinlen," the name of a famous animal artist around the turn of the 20th century. I bought it because I liked it. I knew it was a recent reproduction.

While early movie posters with favorite movie stars and films have skyrocketed in price in the last decade, there are still bargains to be found. James Bond posters, for example, still sell at auction for under $1,000.

Travel posters, generally, are reasonably priced - unless they are by famed artists such as A.M. Cassandre. Or they're posters of the ocean liner the Normandie, which sell for more than $20,000. Yet, a less popular travel poster of the Royal Mail Line sells for $1,200.

Contact Anne Gilbert by mail: c/o Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202. Photos cannot be returned.


Forty years ago my aunt gave me a china pitcher and basin. On the bottom it is marked "Berford porcelain." Any information?

Your wash basin set was made in the late 19th century. It could sell in a shop for about $200.Antiques detective

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