In 1867, Jules Cheret, inspired by Japanese woodcuts, used the newly-developed four-color lithograph system to combine text and images into a new, easily produced, temporary form of advertising – the poster. Soon, European artists like Alphonse Mucha, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, and Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen were creating posters combining Art Nouveau aesthetics with easily understandable advertising.
Vintage posters are highly collectible as they can make great discussion pieces and bridge the worlds of art and history. The 20th Century saw a wide variety of memorable and iconic posters, from Uncle Sam's “I Want You” recruiting posters to Depression-era WPA posters to Fillmore-era concert posters. The prominence of the poster has continued into the 21st century, with a notable example being Shepard Fairey's Obama poster.
There are many collectible poster varieties, such as wartime, movies, music, political, sports, circus, aviation, railroad, and pure art posters. Condition, rarity, and attractiveness are especially critical with posters. Do your homework before you buy.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
London Transport Museum Posters
A must-see collection of 5,000 vivid, colorful British posters from the early 1900s onward. Browse by artist (over … [read review or visit site]
This classy looking British site features hundreds of high resolution photos of antique porcelain pre-war (enamel) … [read review or visit site]
Fillmore and Avalon Collection
Wish you'd visited San Francisco in the late 1960s? Get a quick hit with this comprehensive collection of psychedel… [read review or visit site]
Duke University's library has pulled together an impressive collection of over 7,000 ads printed in U.S. and Canadi… [read review or visit site]
From the Nostlagia Factory in Virginia comes this celebration of 'mid-century automotive advertising illustrations'… [read review or visit site]
Ben Perry's Flickr photoset showcasing almost 1500 Soviet propaganda, advertising, theatre and movie posters from 1… [read review or visit site]
American Package Museum
Ian House's gallery of early 20th Century American package designs. Browse the exhibits in slide show mode or view … [read review or visit site]
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library's impressive Digital Gallery offers free access to over 500,000 historical images inclu… [read review or visit site]
Found in Moms Basement
Paula Zargaj-Reynolds’ blog, an extensive collection of 20th century vintage advertising, is a visual feast. Scro… [read review or visit site]
The American Memory Project
This amazing Library of Congress site includes about a hundred photo and document collections (see complete list) o… [read review or visit site]
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites