Collecting Posters And Using As Home Decor – The development of poster art during the last years of the 19th century came about as manufacturers began to realize the enormous benefits to be gained from pictorial advertising, rather than relying on pure typography as a method of selling products. And there were new and exciting products to sell, such as bicycles, corsets and cigarette papers, which lent themselves magnificently to the skill and imagination of such artists as Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Jules Cheret and Alphonse Mucha.
The lithographic printing process revolutionized the art of poster making. The new technique involved the use of a flat stone onto which the design was drawn in wax crayon which acted as a resist.
The stone was then washed with a powerful acid which ate away those areas unprotected by the wax. The remaining raised design was then inked and the poster printed from it. The stones were thick enough to be rubbed down and used again.
The boulevards of Paris in 1900 resembled an open air art gallery, with every available surface plastered with colorful advertising posters. They became instantly collectable, with desperate aficionados stopping at nothing to acquire the very latest examples, even sponging them down in the dead of night to remove the glue and carry them away.
‘Jane Avril’; artist: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
The fantasy maidens and good-time girls of Toulouse Lautrec and Cheret disappeared after World War I, when the Modern age heralded another revolution in poster design, collecting posters and using as home decor. The preoccupation with speed and new, fast, comfortable methods of transport, such as the train, the ocean liner and the aeroplane were reflected in the work of designers such as A. M. Cassandre and Paul Colin. Women too, became sleek and sophisticated, liberated and conscious of their new role in society.
Art Nouveau and Art Deco posters are still avidly collected on both sides of the Atlantic. Collectors tend to concentrate on one period or the other, buying examples which compliment other objects in their homes such as furniture, metalware and ceramics.
Original Art Nouveau poster by Alphonse Mucha
Collectors’ notes. Both Art Nouveau and Art Deco posters have been reproduced and retailed through various high street outlets. You should familiarize yourself with the different types of paper that were used as well as the printing techniques, so that you can tell the difference between the original and the copy. Examine a copy closely and you will see thousands of little dots, a sign of modern printing techniques.
Collectors like the margins of their posters to be intact. If you are considering buying an example that is framed and the margins are not clearly visible, ask for the frame to be removed so you can be reassured they are still there.
Posters that have been fixed to boards or panels, although those fixed with animal glue can be removed by a specialist restorer. Losses, which would have to be repainted. Tears can usually be put together and creases smoothed out in the restoration process.
Many of the classic posters are far beyond the pocket of the average collector, but contemporary with the period, many albums were made containing faithfully reproduced reductions, sold as ‘Maître de l’ Affiche’, and individual prints from these albums can occasionally be found for around £100.
Les Maitres de L’Affiche; artist: Adolphe Willette; circa: 1899, origin: France
Les Maitres de L’Affiche – artist: Jules Cheret, circa: 1896