The early posters were issued in a wide variety of
sizes. The Development of the Poster in
the UK was heavily influenced by distribution from other countries,
primarily France and the US. Unfortunately the posters AND the documentation
has been destroyed because of the paper shortages and recycling during both
We started to gather the information on British poster
sizes by researching the normal way, but rapidly came to a stop because
very little information is available. So we approached
a variety of dealers and collectors and interviewed some industry personnel.
Unfortunately, we received a wide variety of answers as well, and most were
presented to us as guesses.
So..... instead we have decided to research the various
poster sizes by working primarily from the posters themselves to try to
reconstruct as much as we can. This may present a little different view
than any that you have heard on this topic, but we feel that this is the
most reliable. We will continue to research and fill in areas that we haven't
The NEXT major problem with addressing articles on
sizes is the confusion of terminology. Paper suppliers, studios and collectors
often do not share the same name for a particular size. This creates a MAJOR
problem in communications.
Because of all the confusion, we felt that it would
be better to address each size in an individual article instead of collectively.
This way we could present as much information as possible
to help clarify without space limitations. Also, to help eliminate the confusion,
I have created a chart showing the collectors' term for a poster, the industry's
term and the actual size. The articles are written under the collectors'
term, so you can click on the link to go straight to the article.
OK.... now that you've seen the size chart, your first
question is probably..... why don't you just call a 12 sheet a 12 sheet
and a 6 sheet a 6 sheet??
No... that's not a BAD question. Let's see if I can
answer it sufficiently..
First, when the film industry first established their
system at the turn of the century, they utilized the double crown as the
basic unit and everything is set up as multiples of it. As the British one
sheet was introduced, they didn't adjust to compensate for it and chose
to continue to use the double crown. (which is why some older collectors
call the double crown a UK one sheet) When they issued a 40x90, it was 6
times the size of a double crown (old UK one sheet) and called a 6 sheet.
The 40x90 has since been reduced to 40x81 which is about 3 times the size
of the British one sheet, but they didn't want to change their system and
still called it a 6 sheet.
Since collectors discuss posters constantly between
each other, labels and terms have been created for the ease of the collecting
community. Let me give you an example. In the US industry, there was a variety
of card stock posters that were used for display in the lobby of the theater.
The movie industry called all of them lobby cards, even though they were
sets of 8x10s, 11x14s, 14x17s, 14x36, 20x28, and 22x28. This can be EXTREMELY
confusing when you're discussing with other collectors, so other names and
terms are used for simplicity. When a collector says a Half Sheet... everyone
immediately knows that you are talking about a 22x28" lobby card.
As collecting branched around the world, there has
become a standardization of terms in the hobby. These terms, quite often,
do not match the terms used by the movie industry.
When you look at some of the larger British sizes,
collectors have automatically standardized them. For example, let's look
at three collectors; one from the US, one from Australia and one from the
The US collector has a 41x81"
he calls a US 3 sheet because it's about 3 times the size of his one
The Australian collector has a
41x80" that he calls an Australian 3 sheet because it's about 3
times the size of his one sheet (27x40").
The British collector has a 40x81"
that he calls a British 6 sheet
even though it's about 3 times the size
of the British one sheet (27x40") just like the other 2 collectors.
NO!!! It's NOT 6 times the size of the British
Because the British Industry set their scale for THEIR
ease (using the double crown as the base instead of the one
sheet), collectors have had to readjust the terms for the sake
of the hobby.