WHAT IS A FAKE MOVIE POSTER?
Movie posters are a very unique type of collectible. Even though they have been compared to many different types of collectibles, they're not like any other type that we've been able find. Coins, stamps, comic books, figurines, depression glass and on and on were created in large quantities to be used or handled by the general public. This is the first major difference.
Original movie posters were created to be used to advertise a particular film and then disposed of, which is one of the things that causes us to want it more. The second major reason is that this limited amount of disposable advertising is also on every conceivable topic under the sun. There is a topic that ANY type of person can identify with.
The first step to talk about FAKES would be to derive at our definition of the term "FAKE". To keep this as simple as possible, a FAKE is a poster that is created or modified to imitate another poster with the INTENT to defraud someone under the misconception that they are obtaining the original poster.Commercial posters, reprints, restrikes and reissues obviously don't fall into this category because they were created for a specfic purpose. A reprint trying to be passed off to a collector as an original does NOT make the reprint a FAKE, it makes the dealer trying to pass it off a CROOK.
This very unique industry also creates very unique problems when attempting to categorize and document all the many, many variations that have been created. Here's a few examples:1. Over the years, major theaters quite often created their own individual material for particular theaters or campaigns that the other theaters didn't have.a. George Eastman bought his own theater in Rochester, NY in the 20s. Wanting to make his place a showplace, he REFUSED to use any studio issued advertising material. He hired local artist Baptiste Magdalena to specially create ALL his ad material. From 1924 to 1928 over 1400 fantastic pieces were created. The majority were trashed and only a few hundred survived.
b. Major theaters have been known to create all types of oddities for their individual theaters to help promote an individual film. These include such items as horizontal one sheets and hand painted plywood posters.
c. In the 1920s, 30s and 40s, most films would stay out on the market for 1 1/2- 2 years. The studios would normally stock accessories for about 6 months. Quite often, after that, the smaller theaters were on their own. This is the reason for the rapid growth of the poster exchanges. But when no poster was available, creativity came into play such as putting snipes over the title of one film to change it to another. OR, theaters would get a 'blow-up'. There were companies that would take a still or ad and 'Blow it up' to poster size for use in that theater.2. To find cheaper or more creative promotional material, theaters and theater chains turned to other sources for producing different variations. These other companies (such as Leader Press, the Other Company, Globe, Hatch, Benton just to name a few of the literally HUNDREDS) used all types of different materials than the studio issued material. Some became known for their type of variations such as Benton's duotone window cards, Globe's dayglow posters, Hatch's block stamp posters etc. So different paper stocks, different versions and different markings were common.
3. When the studios shifted to the use of National Screen, NSS bought out the largest poster exchange association trying to get control of the distribution but it STILL was an unbelievable amount of distribution and printing nightmares
And these are only a FEW of the reasons for massive amounts of questionable material.
THEN add on top of that, the fact that very little has been completely documented so there is NO real place to run to for ABSOLUTE correct information.....
BECAUSE IT DOESN'T EXIST!
(We're working as hard as we can to CREATE that place in hopes for the future)Do any of these situations constitute any of these posters being classified as a 'FAKE'. Of course not!! They're just variations that make classifying a fake more difficult.
Here's some problem situations that we also have to consider:
I. When the studios took over the distribution of materials from NSS in the mid 1980s, they placed the production of the posters in the commercial realm of business and opened up a new set of problems for collectors. An area that you never hear about but is probably the most common of all problems in commercial distribution is over production. This is done every day in just about EVERY type of industry right under our noses and movie posters are definitely no exception.
When companies make a low bid to get a commercial contract, they quite often don't stop production when the contract is finished....... in other words .... they let the presses keep running. Then they normally have someone ready to pay for the over production. This way the company makes up for the low bid. Of course, this is hard to prove but definitely a part of every day business in the US. So additional posters are produced that get on the market.
Is this a FAKE? No, because it's the identical piece made at the same time by the same company. It's not trying to pass for a poster from years earlier. It's not a fake...... it's just a sham! There's no way to tell the difference, and ultimately it affects the value of the poster depending upon how many were produced. WE BELIEVE THIS IS DONE MORE THAN YOU THINK.
II. Another situation would not involve the company, but quite often the printer is approached to pull a plate and run additional posters without the knowledge of the company. Yes, this too is done quite often. There is no way of telling how many times this has been done and what titles it affects because the probability is that the majority of the time, the poster would not be distinguishable from the others released through normal distribution. The only hope is to find some way to distinguish these from the legitimate posters. With no records, no documentation, the myriad of variations already existing, the changing of hands multiple times makes most of these hard to identify. The dealer doing this is a real CROOK. Unfortunately sometimes honest legitimate dealers wind up with some of these believing whole heartedly that they are part of the normal distribution. (Based on what we have been told from a number of reliable sources, this may explain the origin of some of the minty whites)
III. The last is the unscrupulous person who takes a lesser poster and modifies it to try to deceive someone into thinking that it is a DIFFERENT poster.
THESE SCAM ARTISTS ARE OF THE WORST SORTS WITH NO INTENT EXCEPT FRAUD ON THEIR MINDS.
Where does LAMP stand on the problems? These are the areas that are considered FAKES.
On I. There's no way to tell these and nothing can be done.
On II. This is the most controversial area of all with 'hard to prove' finger pointing and accusations between DEALERS. LAMP is not set up to be a judge or take sides. We take the stance to report as much information as is available to the collector and try to make the collector aware that conflicting controversy exists on that piece. Then let the collector decide for themselves if they want to take the chance one way or the other and make up their own mind.
On III. These are the posters that this report is about.... AND we also want to present to you a batch of posters that WE THINK have the potential for these scam artists to try to utilize.
Back to the Fake Article