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Publication Date: 2014-06-09


French Vintage Poster Art

Today I want to introduce you to a Parisian resource you will want to hang onto – Rue Marcellin, the real deal for collecting vintage poster art, guaranteed authentic. There is nothing like these works for a large lively burst of color into a design scheme. I am not referring to the kind that can be found at various catalog/retail giants, I speak of the real thing, the good stuff. It is important to buy this kind of art through a reputable dealer, like Rue Marcellin.

You want your purchase to hold its value, and you should know the story behind the piece (or artist) you are buying because this art is as rich in glorious history as it is incredible pigment. You definitely want to buy it right. So you are armed with the necessary knowledge to invest wisely when you buy these pieces, I want to introduce you to the expert, Paul, at Paris-based Rue Marcellin. His inventory is so incredible that I have it peppered through the educational Q&A to tempt you. In case you fall in love with any of these specific pieces and want to enrich your interiors with a pop of Art Deco or Art Nouveau, I promise to give you his contact information at the end…

Please give us pointers on what one should know when buying the original works and how to know the difference between original and reproduction.
In general, it’s not that easy to tell especially for a beginner. It can be confusing because similar posters were often printed in several versions, sizes, and on different types of paper. Some popular posters were reprinted at a later date and are not the original printing. That’s why it is important to buy from an experienced and reputable dealer that has the experience to tell and will stand behind what they sell. We work with some great French and other European partners that have been dealing with posters for many years. Because we are an online gallery, we have taken extra steps to make sure that buyers can purchase our products with peace of mind. We guarantee that our posters are authentic and provide a certificate of authenticity with every piece. We offer hassle-free returns, no questions asked. And we offer free international shipping to maximize the convenience for the buyer.

The largest distinguishing feature of an original vintage poster is the printing method. Printing technologies have changed over the last 150 years. Our current focus is on posters, prints, and illustrations from the late 1800s to the 1940s and a limited number of examples from the 50s and 60s. During the majority of this time, the primary technique that was used to produce print material was stone lithography. The quality of commercial printing during this "Golden Age of Stone Lithography" between 1870 and 1940 has never been duplicated and probably never will. One has to see the colours and textures an old poster possesses to truly understand how unique it is compared to a modern poster printed using today’s offset or digital technologies.

Let's talk about the care of this kind of art:

The Dealer's part of care: Conservation and Restoration

Almost all early posters and magazines were printed on cheap short-fiber paper, often containing wood cellulose (imagine modern-day daily newspaper). These were never meant to survive 100+ years! With age, this paper discolors and becomes brittle (imagine a newspaper left outside your doorstep for a few days while you are on vacation). The high acidity in the paper continues to essentially “eat” itself. Every one of our posters, prints, magazine illustrations gets worked on by a professional conserver here in France. He gives each piece a “bath” to de-acifiy it (to stop and reverse the above-described process). This also washes the decades of surface dirt bringing the piece's original colours back to life. All our works are then mounted on a special type of thick acid-free linen paper. This gives the piece structure, it can easily be handled and framed, and minimizes any further deterioration. Finally, if necessary, the conserver restores any damage, the poster may have. This may include fixing tears, etc. Everything he does is based on accepted museum standards and is fully reversible. Proper conservation that is fully reversible is extremely important to maintain the piece’s value. In fact, this process significantly increases the value of the piece. The condition of the poster and if and how it’s been conserved is one of the most important factors to determining the poster's value.

Buyer’s Need-to-know pointers on care:

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