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British Film Posters

One Sheet

The British One Sheet is a poster of very confusing background. Most early poster sizes came straight from standard paper company sizes, but the one sheet isn't even close to a standard paper size. We have not been able to find a clear origin of the British One Sheet, but looking at several facts, we would like to present some possibilities of what may have been the origin. So let's look at some facts.....

We know that US distributors coming into London around 1911 and 1912 were very aggressive in their use of promotional materials but the material that they used in the United States were different sizes than the standard sizes used in the UK. It would have been easier to initially utilize the sizes that were common to the paper industry.. A common paper size was the Crown Quad (see our article on Poster Development) which measures 30x40. This size was being used but in a vertical format. (See our article on the Quad)

The problem was that the plates from the major US distributors had already been established by the Edison 'Trust' at 27x41. The length could be easily adjusted with minor border adjustments. To adjust the width, they printed a 3 inch strip that was to be removed and (possibly) used similar to our present day ticket booth mylars, making the size 27x40. We have several samples such as the one shown on the right from the Biograph. We also have samples from the Lubin Company who was also a member of the trust. The posters were printed in London by Waterlow Bros. & Layton. Click on the thumbnail for a larger view.

WWI totally devastated the film industry and we have not been able to find any other record of the British One Sheet in the 27x40 size in any pressbooks that we've been able to research. We've checked numerous major releases through the 1930s that would have a large amount of promotional material released without finding ANY 27x40 one sheets.

Around 1938 the industry went through some major advertising changes. We have more on these changes in our article on Poster Development in the UK. This was the reported time the horizontal format Quad (called Broadside) appeared.

From here 2 different scenarios appear.

Scenario 1 - At the restructuring of the advertising material around 1938, the British One Sheet was re-created along with the Broadside Quad. The war brought a quick end to the usage of the one sheet until the late 1940s. It still didn't become very popular for another decade. To support this scenario, we have ONE poster that has been presented to us as a 1938 British One Sheet. It is an Adventures of Robin Hood, If it is.. then that would establish it's resurrection at the advertising renaissance. Questionable??

Scenario 2. National Screen Service started handling all the posters for the major US studios in 1940. Right after the war, they set up offices for NSS-UK and started printing, warehousing and distributing US studio material in the UK. The NSS-UK reintroduced the one sheet, already having all the plates from the US market. The one sheet was used as an international release for British Colonies and other English speaking territories.

What about the Adventures of Robin Hood, you say???? If you look close at the poster........ where's the studio logo?????? I think that it's an issue from the Other Company and NOT a British One Sheet... but I don't have enough info to say one way or the other.

We know that it is primarily used for International use, especially to British territories and bases. Starting in the 1960s, one sheets were issued for most major films and continues until the present.

Here's a look at the British One Sheets in our archive

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