New movie poster book examines rarest of the rare

Todd Spoor, who has been collecting and preserving movie posters for more than 12 years, has compiled more than 300 of the rarest movie posters in the full-color, hardcover volume titled “The World’s Rarest Movie Posters.” (

How does one define rare? There are fewer than 10 known examples of each of the movie posters listed in this book. That’s rare. Many have only one or two known examples. That’s extremely rare.

The discussions of why some of these movie posters are so rare are intriguing. There’s a lot more to the story than a movie theater manager pulling down an old poster and throwing it away once the movie run was over. Grey Smith of Heritage Auction Galleries, who wrote the foreword, says one reason movie posters are rare is they were “given to nearby grocery stores or local grade schools for use as either signs or for art projects.” The author says many posters were gathered up for paper drives during World War II. No matter the method of demise, however; the point is very few of these posters still exist.

Movie poster values are based on auction results from 1989 to the present from auction houses such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Heritage Auction Galleries and Bonhams & Butterfields, among others. Big, colorful images accompany the value listings, which include the auction venue, the grade, the date sold and the price realized. Though the content is rich and colorful, it could have been noticeably better with a thorough read-through by an editor or proofreader to iron out inconsistencies in style and grammar.

The discourses on collecting and investing in movie posters include information on condition and restoration as well as definitions of poster grades. Ultimately, Spoor says rare posters are a good investment because – like so many other top-of-the-line art and collectibles – “when something is so rare that it only turns up at auction only once or twice every several years, it will not only retain its value, but continue to appreciate.” ?


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