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Collecting Movie Posters: The Art of Cinema

"The Maltese Falcon" Six Sheet

The Maltese Falcon Warner Brothers Six Sheet  (1941) 14" X 22"  Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor

The Maltese Falcon Warner Brothers Six Sheet (1941) 14" X 22" Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor

Movie Posters, A Timeless Collectible

Over time and generations of motion picture history the movie poster has been printed in a number of different sizes and shapes. The bigger the movie being released, the bigger the poster campaign produced by the studio. At the beginning of the 20th century when moving pictures were just beginning to make an impact on society, the most common size or format for a movie posters was the one sheet. These first posters or one sheets were a common size of 27" x 41" which is the largest sheet that would fit in the lithographers press bed, so in turn this made it a common size used for theater posters prior to motion pictures. Later the larger size posters such as three sheets or six sheets were still derived from the one sheet, for example a three sheet was created with the use of three one sheets and so on.

Flash Gordon Lobby Card 1940

Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe Universal  Lobby Card Chapter 6 Flaming Death (1940)  11" X 14"

Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe Universal Lobby Card Chapter 6 Flaming Death (1940) 11" X 14"

Theater Lobby Cards

Lobby Cards (11" X 14")
Lobby cards for the most part are issued in sets of eight and of coarse there are always those that break the rules. These Lobby Cards were printed on heavy card-stock for display in theater lobbies. The Title Lobby Card showed the production credits and poster artwork whereas the other seven cards were scenes from the film. These lobby cards were usually produced in full color and again there are those.

Jumbo Lobby Card (14" X 17")
Jumbo Lobby Cards were printed prior to the 1940s, these cards were usually produced by the larger movie studio's and generally for higher profile releases. These jumbo cards were often printed on a linen or glossy stock, as these cards were produced in far fewer quantities than standard lobby cards, in conclusion, this makes them a bit more rare.

The Three Stooges "Three Little Beers" Title Lobby Card 1935

The Three Stooges "Three Little Beers" Columbia  Title Lobby Card (1935) 11 X 14

The Three Stooges "Three Little Beers" Columbia Title Lobby Card (1935) 11 X 14

Abbott and Costello "Go to Mars" Title Lobby Card 1953

Bud Abbott & Lou Costello in "Abbott & Costello Go to Mars" Universal International Title Lobby Card (1953) 11" X 14"

Bud Abbott & Lou Costello in "Abbott & Costello Go to Mars" Universal International Title Lobby Card (1953) 11" X 14"

Tarzan "Tarzan and the Golden Lion" Title Lobby Card 1927

Tarzan "Tarzan and the Golden Lion" FBO Title Lobby Card (1927) 11 x 14 James Pierce

Tarzan "Tarzan and the Golden Lion" FBO Title Lobby Card (1927) 11 x 14 James Pierce

"Robin Hood" Window Card

The Adventures of Robin Hood (Warner Brothers Window Card (1938) 14" x 22" Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland

The Adventures of Robin Hood (Warner Brothers Window Card (1938) 14" x 22" Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland

Window Cards

Produced on a heavy card-stock, these cards were smaller version posters used in shop windows and theater lobbies to advertise the upcoming or currently showing feature films.

Window Card (14" X 22")
These window cards generally had a blank white imprint area of approximately 4 inches at the top of the card to allow the theater's to add there name and the date of showing.

Jumbo Window Card (22" X 28")
These jumbo window cards were over-sized versions of the standard window card also printed on card-stock. These cards were produced in far fewer numbers making them rarer than the standard lobby card.

Midget Window Card (8" X 14")
Midget window cards were printed primarily before the 1940s and were smaller versions of the standard window cards including the same artwork. These cards also had a blank imprint area which were usually used in cigar or candy cases in shops or restaurants. These were printed in much smaller quantities, making them rarer than standard window card as well.

"The Big Broadcast of 1938" Jumbo Window Card

The Big Broadcast of 1938 Paramount Jumbo Window Card 22" X 28" W.C. Fields, Martha Raye, Dorthy Lamour

The Big Broadcast of 1938 Paramount Jumbo Window Card 22" X 28" W.C. Fields, Martha Raye, Dorthy Lamour

"Fast and Loose" Window Card 1930

"Fast and Loose" Paramount  Window Card (1930) 14" X 22" Frank morgan

"Fast and Loose" Paramount Window Card (1930) 14" X 22" Frank morgan

Tim McCoy, Stock Midget Window Card 1932

Tim McCoy Columbia Stock Midget Window Card  (1932). 8" X 14" Tim McCoy

Tim McCoy Columbia Stock Midget Window Card (1932). 8" X 14" Tim McCoy

James Bond "Thunderball" Insert

James Bond "Thunderball" United Artists (1965). Insert 14" X 36" Sean Connery

James Bond "Thunderball" United Artists (1965). Insert 14" X 36" Sean Connery

Standard Size American Posters

One Sheet (27" X 41")
The one sheet is the most recognizable as the standard movie poster. These one sheets or posters were printed on a thin paper stock and were usually displayed in front of the theater or in the lobby. Almost always implemented by studio hired artists and illustrators, they would give a bold display of title, credits, and outstanding illustrations of star portraits or a graphic depiction of the film's story line. The studios often printed several different styles of posters for one film, among which might include a "Teaser" or "Advance," to be issued prior to the release of the film to attract potential audience attention. This size became popular in the early 1900s, and remained so until the size was shortened around 1985 to the typical 27" X 40." The One Sheet prior to 1980 was almost always found folded in eighths with one vertical fold and two horizontal folds, and after 1980 were sent to theaters rolled.

Half Sheet (22" X 28")
Printed on cardstock paper, the studios often printed two styles of this size. One style would be identical to the Title Lobby Card. These posters were often a photographic and artwork combination and were displayed in the lobby of the Theater. They were pictured in the collectors have taken to calling them Half Sheets, as they are half the size of a One Sheet.

Insert (14" X 36")
Printed on card stock paper, these posters were used in conjunction with One Sheets to promote a film. The artwork is usually done in a mix of photographic and artwork style as opposed to the all artwork One Sheet. These cards were often folded in thirds, and are very popular among collectors.

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"This Gun For Hire" One Sheet 1942

"This Gun For Hire" Paramount One Sheet (1942) 27" X 41" Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd

"This Gun For Hire" Paramount One Sheet (1942) 27" X 41" Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd

Buck Jones "Border Law" Insert 1931

Buck Jones "Border Law" Columbia (1931) Stock Insert 14" X 36"

Buck Jones "Border Law" Columbia (1931) Stock Insert 14" X 36"

"The Lone Ranger Rides Again" One Sheet 1939

"The Lone Ranger Rides Again" Republic, . One Sheet, Chapter 1 (1939)  27" X 41" Robert Livingston, Chief Thundercloud

"The Lone Ranger Rides Again" Republic, . One Sheet, Chapter 1 (1939) 27" X 41" Robert Livingston, Chief Thundercloud

"Attack Of the 50 Foot Woman" Half Sheet 1958

"Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" Allied Artists (1958) Half Sheet 22" X 28".

"Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" Allied Artists (1958) Half Sheet 22" X 28".

"The Rocket Man" Half Sheet 1954