Vintage Posters 101

Welcome to the Ross Art Blog! So, here’s the important thing to know first…we’re total poster nerds. The gallery is literally stacked with thousands of  original vintage posters, which gallery owner Mickey Ross has been collecting for over 25 years now.

Many people come in and first ask, “What does original mean? Aren’t these just reproductions?” Well, let’s start with a brief intro to vintage posters…a little vintage poster 101.

Many of our original vintage posters were first commissioned by advertisers in the late 1800’s, and were created by the best commercial artists of the day to advertise all sorts of things – food, liquor, travel, entertainment, etc. One of the most well-known artists was Henri de Toulouse – Lautrec.

Troupe de Mlle Eglantine

Troupe de Mlle Eglantine – Toulouse – Lautrec, 1896

In these early days, the method of printing was stone lithography, developed specifically for creating these large colorful advertisements, by Jules Cheret in Paris in the late 1800’s.  Cheret was not only the creator of this large format printing method, but was also an accomplished poster artist.

Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge – Jules Cheret – c1890

These graphic, brilliant images brought vibrancy to kiosks on the streets, the sides of buildings, and the interiors of stores and restaurants.

There were even collectors of these posters back then…as the old water based glues weren’t that fast drying, often early collectors and even art dealers would tear them down as soon as they were posted. The original poster nerds, perhaps?

In addition, turn of the century art dealers believed they could sell these “advertising” pieces to their customers. They sought out the poster artists and the printers in an effort to secure over runs. It must be remembered, though,  that most of the vintage posters were destroyed in actual use. They were mounted on walls and merely discarded or ripped away when the next new image became available. While vintage posters were originally produced in editions that numbered in the hundreds, and sometimes thousands, few survived in their original state. What’s more, the lithographer’s stones did not normally survive past their first printing.

So, collectible, they are! Our collection ranges in age from the late 1800’s to more contemporary posters created in the last 10 years. An original posters value depends on factors like age, artist, condition and rarity. Over the last 100+ years, there have been some beautiful works of art created for the sake of advertising, and we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by many of them every day.

We’ll be sharing updates, interesting facts, and tidbits from the poster world with you from time to time, so please visit our blog again, browse our website, and feel free to contact us with your own poster questions.

– js

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About The Ross Art Group

Specializing in original vintage posters, The Ross Art Group opened its doors over 18 years ago, and founder Mickey Ross has been collecting original posters for over 25 years. What started out as a hobby, sparked a true passion and developed into a thriving business.
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