Grading vintage posters is an art and not a science. There is no universally adopted grading scheme and different sellers, be they poster dealers or auctioneers, use different systems, and even where the same system is used, different subjective interpretations produce different results.
Wherever you buy, we encourage you to look at the images and descriptions as well as looking to see what grade the seller has given to the piece, to ask for more detailed pictures, and ask questions if you are unsure about the condition of a piece. And, wherever possible, physically inspect an item before deciding to buy.
You should also bear in mind that original cinema posters:
So folds (and minor fold separations and/or ink loss) and pin-holes and the like at the corners or in the borders are very common, and are a result of the use for which the piece was originally produced and therefore are not considered to be a ‘defect’ as such.
To our mind in order for something to be graded ‘A’ it would never even have been handled so with that in mind, the grades we use run from A- (almost Mint condition) to C (poor condition) although in reality we rarely have anything in C condition; the vast majority of our stock is in at least B+ condition.
Almost mint condition.
For posters, generally folded as issued, the poster will be complete with only very minor, if any, fold separation and/or minor ink loss and/or pinholes or similar faults and these would generally be only around the borders of the poster and not within the image. For lobby cards, the same criteria would apply except lobby cards should never be folded.
This is what many would call “Good” or even “Good to Very Good”. It will still be complete, but there may be a greater degree of separation along the fold lines, and/or paper loss around the intersection of the fold lines, and also have slightly greater flaws, some of which may be within the actual image of the poster or lobby card.
This piece may well have paper loss, corners missing or very bad tears extending through the image, or may have been subject to damage during storage, eg. water or sun damage.
Poor condition, possibly with parts of the main image- badly damaged or even missing.
In addition, many of our higher value pieces have also been linen backed, a conservation process which minimises foldlines.
The key is to look at the images and ask questions – we want you to be happy with your purchase.
We don’t over-crop our images, or otherwise enhance them or try to minimise or disguise any flaws. Nor do we use photos of anything other than the actual stock that we hold. But we still encourage you to look at them if you can before taking a final decision.