It was back in the mid-eighties when a friend gave me a “Safe at Home” lobby card (11’x14”) as a gift in exchange for some advice I provided him concerning his baseball collection. At first I thought it was a nice gesture especially since the movie starred Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. At that time, I was unfamiliar with collecting vintage movie memorabilia.
The fact that sports, my favorite players and movies had a connection was intriguing to me. I started to research movies that were sports related dating back to the early 1900’s. I found out that when movie houses began opening throughout the country a company called National Screen Service (NSS) or the movie studio, would issue Stone Litho painted posters that were meant to be displayed in the actual movie theatre. In order for the movie theatre to receive the next movie poster ad they had to send the just used movie poster back to the studio. Common standard sizes includes: One Sheet 27”x41”, Insert 14”x36”, Half Sheet 22’x28”, Three Sheet 41”x81”, Lobby Card 11”x14” or Window Card 14”x22”. Measurements can vary slightly but usually not more than a half inch or so.
I decided to start slow and be selective in my sports related movie poster collecting decisions. I started with sports related posters that were most popular, had prominent athletes, pre-dated 1970 and were made in the US. They also had to be in excellent-mint condition. There weren’t many sports movie poster collectors then as there are now. I was fortunate to find Bill Hughes, one of the foremost buyer and seller of vintage movie posters, comics, signatures and coins in the country. Bill was extremely helpful in explaining the movie poster collector’s mentality and steering me in the right direction when I wanted to invest in a movie poster either he brought to my attention or I found on my own by networking the collectors universe.
I have never enjoyed my collecting experience more than I have when I’m looking for a specific movie poster or when someone starts talking about their collection. The 1938 “Rawhide” movie starring former New York Yankee great Lou Gehrig and actor Smith Ballew is a favorite in my collection. Another is the 1950 “Follow The Sun” a movie about the life of golf legend, Ben Hogan. Then there are; the 1950 “The Jackie Robinson Story”, the 1952 “Pride of the Yankees” starring Gary Cooper and Babe Ruth and the 1941 “The King of the Texas Rangers” starring football great Sammy Baugh.
In addition to the quest or search another great benefit of owning authentic vintage movie posters is that they have skyrocketed in value over the years and they are not expected to slow down anytime soon. The vintage movie posters are truly scarce based on the fact that the movie houses had to return the movie posters to get the next movie’s posters. The majority of the posters in the early days were returned as stipulated but over the years some posters that were stored in theater or movie company basements / warehouses were found and made their way to dealers and collectors. National auction houses such as Christies and Sotheby’s started featuring vintage sports movie posters in the early nineties and now every (brick and mortar) auction house throughout the country as well as on-line auction companies conduct vintage poster related auctions.
Interest and value in sports movie related vintage posters increase every day. “The Holy Grail of sports movie posters is “Babe Comes Home” said Bill Hughes from VintageCollectables.net “The 1927 film cast Babe in the movie and features him in the poster, as well. The stone litho poster has vibrant colors and this poster is extremely scarce”. Bill purchased the Babe Comes Home one-sheet in 2004 for $138,000. Today’s value is approximately $150,000 - $165,000.
In general, posters dated pre-1970 are in the greatest demand but because of that interest current movie posters (1970-present) are sought out such as the 1989 Field of Dreams, 1988 Eight Men Out, the 1980 Caddyshack and the 1977 North Dallas Forty. These later film posters are not as limited and are valued anywhere between $50 to $200.
Since the mid-eighties I have expanded my movie poster collection to include vintage posters from Walt Disney, westerns and comedy from the likes of Abbott & Costello, Little Rascals and Charles Chaplin, to name a few.
Remember, before you actually make any collectible purchase talk with experts in the collectible business. Visit Bill Hughes website www.VintageCollectables.net or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in collecting vintage movie posters or if you just want to talk about your collection!
Additional Noteworthy Collectible News:
The Highland Mint has released fully updated Major League Baseball Signature Ballparks PhotoMints for all 30 big league teams. Each PhotoMint features a color photo of the ballpark taken on Opening Day of this season and facsimile signatures of some of the team’s players. Each PhotoMint is limited to 2,009 pieces and carry a suggested retail price of $49.95.
SchulteAuctions.com launched their sports/entertainment memorabilia on-line auction platform. Visit www.SchulteAuctions.com or e-mail contactus@SchulteAuctions.com and Register Today! Consignments welcome! Vince Greco Collection and Brian Roberts Game-Used Collection coming soon!