Question: I have several posters that predate World War I. If they’re in good condition--which they are--do they have enhanced value because of their age?--R.F.
Answer: Not necessarily. Posters were produced by the millions in the years between the turn of the century and the war. One obvious reason for their proliferation during the war was that they were used to mobilize the war effort.
At the time, collecting posters was not the big collectible business it is now. That explains why so many were thrown away; today some of them would be worth significant sums.
Ironically, the public’s casual attitude toward collecting posters at that time came during an era that produced outstanding examples of lithographic printing.
Many individuals tend to specialize in advertising, film, sports or other poster-art categories rather than using a shotgun approach to add to their collection.
Prices, depending on condition, range widely. But it’s possible to pick up classic turn-of-the-century works for a couple of hundred dollars or less, according to catalogue and auction prices.
We often refer to catalogues when attempting to estimate the current value of a collectible. Catalogues--old catalogues, that is--also can be invaluable in researching the history of a collectible or in ascertaining what an original really looked like. The latter is important to keep in mind when you’re attempting to avoid the purchase of counterfeit collectibles.
And, to be sure, catalogues themselves are collectible. Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck catalogues published in the early part of this century, for example, have sold for almost $100 each, depending on condition.
Soble cannot answer mail personally but will respond in this column to questions of general interest about collectibles. Do not telephone. Write to Your Collectibles, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.