Off the wall, under the hammer

Coming soon to Christie's: Europe's biggest ever film poster auction. If you want vintage, it's here. If you want to flog Abba - The Movie, stay home. By Sheila Johnston

Next Thursday, Christie's will hold an auction of 278 film posters which, it claims, is the largest and most important ever staged in Europe. Drawn substantially from the private collection of the singer Mel Torm, many are for Hollywood movies of the Thirties, Forties and Fifties, reflecting Torm's main interests, but there are also numerous rarities and oddities: Louise Brooks having her famous bob trimmed on a Swedish poster for A Social Celebrity; an elegant design for Chinatown by the illustrator Robert Amsel; some politically very incorrect posters for black movies from the silent era; and the French poster for The Last Outlaw, which charmingly misspells its star as Garry Cooper.

Britain is slimly represented (although there are some fine Ealing pieces, and rare original posters for Lady Hamilton, Lawrence of Arabia and Oliver Twist). According to Tony Nourmand, Christie's consultant on film posters, paper shortages in this country meant that posters were often recycled: for instance, none survive from Hitchcock's early period.

The most expensive item in the sale, with an estimated value of £12,000 to £17,000, is Lot 278: a 1924 film called Alice's Spooky Adventure. Walt Disney, then aged 22, animated the movie personally; shortly thereafter he gave up drawing. The poster artwork is by Ub Iwerks, who later designed Mickey Mouse. This, the sole known copy, was in the private collection of Virginia Davis (the little girl who played Alice) for almost 70 years. If the price on Alice's head seems a shade steep, it's still a snip compared to the poster for the 1931 version of Frankenstein which sold 18 months ago for a record $198,000.

Film ephemera represent a growing, but highly selective market: the yellowing and dog-eared poster on your bedroom wall is unlikely to be worth a small fortune. "People offer us hundreds of thousands of posters a week, but good material is really, really scarce," Nourmand says. "We get maybe 10 phone calls a day for people wanting to sell King Kong posters. Invariably it's one of the reprints from the Seventies." The real thing fetched $110,000 last December.

Nourmand also politely declines the many offers of Abba - The Movie that come his way, although he throws out a crumb of hope. "I'm sure it will be in demand one day." His priorities in accepting material are the poster's rarity, design and condition, the celebrity of the artist and, last but not least, the status of the film itself. "Posters for Quest for Fire, The Eye of the Needle and Victor Victoria come up in mass quantities. Unfortunately they're not worth anything."

Most items in next week's auction are for films of a respectable vintage; the youngest is for The Terminator (1984). But (for those interested in future investments) Tarantino fever is already bumping up the market value of posters for his movies: "It's quite hard to get an original [as opposed to the reprint] of Reservoir Dogs," Nourmand says. "And I'm sure the different Pulp Fiction posters will soon be rare. The Gate Cinema was selling them at about £15 a set and ran out within a week."

n Tony Nourmand can be contacted through Christie's South Kensington, 85 Old Brompton Rd, London SW7 3LD. The auction (ref EPH 6778) will be held next Thursday at 2.00pm

Arts and Entertainment
The new Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris
architecture

Arts and Entertainment
Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham
Downton

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

art
Arts and Entertainment
The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised

art
Arts and Entertainment

Review: Series 5, episode 4 Downton Abbey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album