“..our stock of over 1,000 posters is among the 10 best held by commercial galleries worldwide.”

Vintage posters are at once mysterious and magical, portals through which the past may be simultaneously gleaned through graphic, historic, artistic, commercial and nostalgic lenses. They are, in fact, exceptionally diverse documents. Like everything in life, however, all vintage posters were not created equally. They can be divided into two primary categories: original posters and reproductions. What exactly is an original poster? An original poster, quite simply, is the first printing of a graphic promotion. Of course, due to their rare nature resulting from a one-off production run, original vintage posters tend to be quite valuable and difficult to source – that is, unless you know the right people. Fortunately for local enthusiasts, the right person is but a stone’s throw away.

Art dealer Brett Ross is the owner of Letitia Morris Gallery, and he succinctly describes the essence of his extraordinary collection: “..our stock of over 1,000 posters is among the 10 best held by commercial galleries worldwide.” Since 1993, Ross has been specialising in original vintage posters. Of particular note, he was the first retailer to bring original Bally posters by Villemat to Melbourne. For over 23 years, Ross has continued to source “the world’s most popular art form”, hailing primarily from Paris and outlying French regions. Letitia Morris’ extensive range of original vintage posters reflects the diversity and ingenuity of 20th century graphic design and showcases the creativity and skill of a variety of well known designers, including Bonnard, Cassandre, Gruau and Savignac. Owing to age and a rather delicate nature, many posters have been affixed to linen and “canson” backing paper for conservation purposes. Furthermore, this particular mounting technique ensures stability and enhances the overall presentation. Interestingly, the gallery’s linen backer is the sole qualified restorer and backer of vintage posters in all of Australia! If you require framing advice and services, the staff of Letitia Morris is available to assist. All posters are framed with FINI frames, the official framer of the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and Museums Victoria. FINI is owned and operated by brothers Chris and Jason Pennings, who took over the business in 2010 from the incomparable John Pandolfini and have been expanding it ever since. Rest assured, if museum-quality framing is what you want, then museum-quality framing is what you get with FINI.

Letitia Morris, Armadale

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Letitia Morris, Armadale

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Finally, it is worth noting that like any piece of art, an original vintage poster very much qualifies as an investment. As such, knowing a bit about the factors which determine a poster’s value can be insightful and can help increase one’s appreciation for these stunning, imaginative, beautiful, decorative and timeless creations. Surprisingly, the quantity of original poster prints does not relate to nor affect their value. Rather, what matters is how many copies were saved on the day the poster was printed. In this case, there is no such thing as a “day 2” for that which is deemed “original”. During the height of the poster craze in the late 1890s, printers would over-run an edition of a design and sell the extras to poster clubs, advertisers, individual collectors and the like. These over-runs are the copies that have made their way to Ross and his team. Needless to say, these original over-runs are extremely limited in number and are highly coveted by collectors. Other factors contributing to the value of an original vintage poster include its overall condition, the artist, the period during which it was printed and the product/event being advertised. If the world of vintage posters has ever piqued your curiosity or if you wish to add to your evolving collection, visit Letitia Morris Gallery at 1158 High Street, Armadale, and savour the richness, beauty and diversity of the graphic design of a bygone era.              

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