Movie Poster Condition Grading
MOVIE POSTER CONDITION GRADING:
Please bear in mind that the vast majority of vintage movie posters have been used, and their condition varies. As one collector once said to me when I bought his collection of 1950s horror posters "Of course there are going to be flaws, these posters worked for a living!" So please be mindful that condition varies from one poster to the next. And while we strive to be extremely strict in our descriptions, grading is - at best - subjective. Feel free to request a more detailed condition report on specific items of interest.
In the early days of movie poster collecting, a grading system evolved that combined elements from the comic book world as well as from dealers of all types of paper ephemera. With a few minor adjustments (embellishments) this grading system remains in use today by most dealers and auction houses, and it is the grading system that we use at FilmPosters.com. In the mid-1990s, Jon Warren, author of many price guides, introduced a new grading system based on a scale of one to ten, in hopes of providing a more standardized set of grading terms for the hobby. The Warren system uses the letters C1 to C10 to denote a particular condition grade (e.g., C9 corresponds to Near Mint). Because this system has been adapted by some members of the hobby, we will include the equivalent Warren scale grade to our "Old School" grading below:
MINT / C-10:
This grade allows zero tolerance for flaws, and it's one that we rarely use. Occasionally, a brand new rolled poster can justify this grade, but only if it is truly flawless, has absolutely no signs of handling, no hints of edge wear and no fingerprints visible on the surface. The same can be true for a lobby card if it is found in truly pristine state, with zero signs of use, crisp edge and sharp points to the corners. Again, we rarely use this grade. The criteria for rolled posters is even stricter. Over the years, we've been fortunate to acquire posters for some new releases directly from the distributor, in boxes of 25 or 50. In these cases, the posters truly qualify for a Near Mint or Mint grading. But once a rolled poster is handled - or mishandled - in any way, the high grading no longer applies. Rolled posters are susceptible to numerous minor flaws (the majority of which result from either improper storage or shoddy shipping practices). For example, a high-gloss poster like Spiderman [insert other example and image] can be downgraded simply for having fingerprints in the image. For a rolled poster to qualify as Near Mint or better it cannot have any edge wear, corner dings, undulations, slight bends or rippling.
NEAR MINT / C-9:
A poster in this grade must be virtually unused, with only the slightest signs of handling. Acceptable flaws might include a single pinhole in each corner (for a total of four), and the slightest imperfections to the edges.
VERY FINE / C-8:
A poster in this grade can exhibit slight signs of use, but no significant wear. Acceptable flaws might include border pinholes, minor edge dings, light edge creases, and very minor wear along fold lines.
FINE / C-7:
A poster showing light, normal wear; used but not abused. in this grade can exhibit slight signs of use, but no significant wear. Acceptable flaws might include border pinholes, minor edge dings, light edge creases, and very minor wear along fold lines.
VERY GOOD - FINE / C-5 to C-6:
An average used poster. This grade allows for a modest accumulation of flaws, including small pieces of tape, light wear and color loss along the fold lines, a dozen pinholes in the periphery of the poster, minor surface soiling, minor border wear including small chip of paper loss in the borders, and minor creasing in the image area. poster showing light, normal wear; used but not abused.
VERY GOOD / C-4 to C-5:
A poster that is well used but still presentable. This grade can include a greater abundance of the flaws listed for VERY GOOD - FINE, as well as tears, fold separation, toning (a slight browning caused by oxidation of the paper), minor bleed-thru of writing on the back of the poster.
GOOD / C-3:
A poster that is heavily used, but would still be reasonably presentable if framed. Posters in this grade can exhibit significant tears, numerous pinholes, significant fold separation, tape on the front (as well as reinforcing tape on the verso), light fading, moderate to heavy soiling, slight trimming.
FAIR / C-2:
A very heavily used poster. Expect significant damage to the image area that will require restoration.
POOR / C-1:
The name of this grade speaks for itself. A poster with significant damage. Items in this grade are generally of value only as a filler copy until a higher-grade example turns up, or for use in restoring a copy of the same item by cannibalizing the useable portions.