Monday, 02 Mar 2020 11:59 GMT

Vintage posters sell for thousands

Vintage film and circus posters printed by former print company W. E. Berry have gone to auction and are estimated to be worth around £50,000.

W. E. Berry was founded by William Berry in 1888 and started out creating posters for railway companies and circuses. After forming a partnership with Paramount Pictures, the firm made a name for printing film posters from the 1920s onwards.

In 2002, the Bradford-based firm found itself in trouble as it experienced a pre-tax loss of £1.12m on a turnover of £18.8m and in 2004 it was forced to close its doors after KPMG Corporate Recovery was unable to find a buyer.

In its prime, the firm was known for its posters for Disney, Rank, Universal, Columbia Pictures and Ealing Studios and for films including Oliver Twist (1948), Star Wars (1977) and The Ten Commandments (1923).

The collection of posters went up for auction on Friday February 28th at Ewbank's Auctions. Alastair McCrea, Ewbank’s specialist commented before the sale: “This is a particularly interesting collection because it includes hand-painted artwork related to the Bradford firm of W.E. Berry, one of only three printers in Britain that specialised in printing large posters for cinemas.

It’s one thing getting your hands on the posters, but to be able to offer the original hand-painted artwork is incredibly rare

“It’s one thing getting your hands on the posters, but to be able to offer the original hand-painted artwork is incredibly rare.”

A poster for the 1954 film Creature from the Black Lagoon was estimated to go for between £2,000 and £4,000, a poster for the 1955 Ealing comedy The Ladykillers was estimated to sell for between £1,000 and £1,500. In addition, a poster for the 1953 Ealing comedy The Titfield Thunderbolt was estimated to sell for between £800 and £1,200.

In reality, many of the posters actually sold for much more than estimated. A poster for the Bertram Mills Circus estimated to date back to 1950’s went for £800 rather than the £150 selling price.

Another original hand painted poster for the Bertram Mills Circus and Menagerie went for £2,200 rather than the £100 selling price.

With the National Science and Media Museum holding an archive of the firm’s posters, the collection generated a large amount of interest.



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