Sunday, December 11, 2005


This weeks sale of Tony Nourmand’s collection of exploitation posters (aka Debbie Does Deptford) at Christie’s London was a bit of a damp squib, as they say over here. 123 of the 300 lots passed (for a 40% unsold rate) and the auction took in $120,000 (this and other prices given are net of the 20% buyer’s premium and are calculated at $1.75 to the the British Pound. )

This is a bit of a puzzlement since the auction was extremely well promoted: an excellent dedicated web site was launched for it, the sale was tied in to the publication of Tony’s new book on exploitation posters and the event received massive publicity not only in the British press, but there were coverage my media outlets around the world. There was a preview party (attended by the PPs - Privileged Punters) put on by Christie’s and there was a constant buzz on the movie poster discussion groups for weeks before the event and what was a first for a movie poster sale, Christie’s issued a special supplement to the catalog to correct color problems with 21 of the images reproduced.

I con only conclude that the avid movie poster buying audience Christie’s has created since its first sale in the late 90s did not take to what is obviously an acquired taste in kitsch. The youngish art directors who have decorated the light washed exposed brick walls of their Shoreditch flats with U.S. 3 sheets of The Italian Job (“It’s not really about he subjugation of women, you know. It’s more about the culture of violence”) and Yugoslavian posters for Taxi Driver (“I haven’t quite figured out what two ostriches and a zeppelin have to do with Scorsese’s vision of mid 20th Century America, but the graphics are quite striking, don’t you think?) weren’t ready to follow Tony Nourmand with a leap of faith off the cliff of bad taste. The danger with being on the cutting edge is that one can get sliced in half (or perhaps in this case it should be the rutting edge --- I know, I know: once a tart for puns, always a tart for puns.)

As for results the high point of the sale was the Italian large format poster for Big Jim McLain (title Marijuana in Italy.) Designed by Luigi Martinati, it went for $7900. This was a bit of a low point for me since I was the underbidder. My client had given me a brief to go as high as $7400 and while I might have pushed it a bit, I was in a battle with a phone bidder who was coming back on each bid with no hesitation. it was obvious they wanted this poster at just about any price. If I had been buying it for myself, I might well have gone on bidding so as to make it a really expensive buy for this person. I was also outbid on several other items. Several of my clients did not believe that posters such as this would go for more than a few hundred dollars. I did get Girl With An Itch for one happy customer and in this case, even though he was willing to go much higher, it cost him a mere $175. Obviously it had no reserve, which was a problem with many of the lots, where the base price seemed just too high. I think there would have been a lot more bidding action if the reserves had been removed. Among other results, Gun Crazy and Chelsea Girls sold for $5200, which was the low estimate for each. A stunning poster with art by Hap Hadley for Cock Of The Air went for $5600 which was one bid above the lowest guide price.

On the whole, I still think this was an important sale. For all its trendiness and penumbral relation to show business, the movie poster hobby is quite stodgy. Someone has to attempt to lift t he flap and let other types of film paper into the tent. We can’t go on selling the same 450 posters over and over again forever.

Coming up this week, also at Christie’s (South Ken, London) is a small (156 lots), but nicely put together sale of film and entertainment memorabilia. There’s some Chaplin material as well as a selection of golden age Disney animation cels and production drawings plus an impressive collection of autographs as well as props from Star Wars, Dr. Who and the Harry Potter series. Complete results of the exploitation sale and an online catalog of the entertainment sale can be found at

As indicated on this site’s ( masthead, The Nostalgia Factory has been sold to Newbury Comics, a Boston based chain of record stores with outlets in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine. In a bit of irony, back in the mid 90s, our second store in Boston was on Newbury Street, just about directly below Newbury Comics’ flagship outlet. Barbara and I are working with Lisa and the other nice folks at Newbury Comics in the transition of the inventory and web site. Pretty soon I will be launching an information only site ( that will cover travel, war and advertising posters as well as film posters. It will basically be a place to get some answers to the questions we keep getting about posters generated by our appearance on Antiques Roadshow. The site should be up and running in a few weeks. We’re currently in London through the end of March. I’m working on a couple of books and Barbara is finally able to devote more time to her mystery fiction site, Meanwhile, I can be reached via: if there are any comments about Poster News Bulletin. Merry Christmas to all.