Collecting Wizard of Oz Posters

How wonderful would it be to gaze up at the original movie Wizard of Oz posters while relaxing in your den or study!

That was my sentiment when I recently came across four Wizard of Oz posters that were to be auctioned at the auction house a couple hours away from my house. I decided to educate myself about them and perhaps even get them for my personal enjoyment. Below are the images of the posters the I found:

judy Garland poster wizard of oz poster

wizard of oz poster 1939 wizard of oz  original poster

My first step was to find these posters in my reference book "Wizard of Oz Collectors' Treasure" from 1993. I quickly located these posters in the reference book and using a price guide page realized that the two posters may in fact be original posters from 1939 and were priced at over $10,000 each in 1993 ( publication of the reference book). The two posters appeared to be from 1949 and 1955 and valued under $500 at the time.

Once I realized that I may have found something quite valuable, I decided that I needed to dig deeper and get some additional details before making any purchasing commitments. I went online and found an interesting article from the Forbes Collectors interviewing Ira Resnick , a long-time collector of vintage movie posters.

From the article I learned that in the 1960s the posters from 30s and 40s were sold for only a few dollars and that only at a later time people began to realize their full value. The article also mentioned that today some posters command a price of over $100,000; however, what truly caught my attention was a statement about the places where one can find valuable posters today: "Sometimes you come across the poster stash of an old projectionist or a construction teardown that used lobby cards as insulation. " What an incredible find that would be!

My interest was piqued especially after I found out that the previous owner of the collection to be auctioned, that also included Oz books and other Oz memorabilia, owned a movie theater in 1950. I found from the past sales that the 1955 poster sold in 2009 for $597, one from 1949 was sold for $3107 and one identical to the one to be auctioned off sold in 2008 for $776.

Judy Garland vintage poster Judy Garland collectible poster Judy Garland original poster

Finally, I found sales of the 1939 original posters from 2003 sales for $14,950 (39a), in 2004 for $19,550 (39b) and in 2008 for $9560 (39c). I also learned that the Wizard of Oz poster insert reached $25,595 on EBay in early 2009 Wizard of Oz poster insert reached $25,595 on EBay in early 2009.

During my research I learned that many reproductions of the Wizard of Oz posters were made in 1960s, particularly by Portal Publications and when considering the purchase of the poster, just like with any other collectible, one has to be very careful. A word of advice: there should be no other printing in original posters except for the statement that the country of origin is USA as shown in the image below.

From the Forbes article mentioned above, I also learned that the condition is a very important factor in poster prices: " A Wizard of Oz poster came into the gallery that would’ve been worth $10,000; but because it was yellowed, we paid $1,000. Vivid colors are key."

Based on the prices that in the last several years, collectors have been willing to pay for the Wizard of Oz posters. Posters appear to be in quite a high demand these days. The 1939 movie is becoming more precious and beloved as the years go by, and as children who see it for the first time are at an age where they can truly appreciate the fine art that is represented by vintage movie posters and other items of memorabilia from its production.

I decided to go on the overnight trip and attend the auction. I learned that the entire OZ collection belonged to Oz collector Jerome Mendel who passed away recently. At the auction I was able to obtain many later editions Oz books, toys, ornaments and other memorabilia that is currently available in my store. As far as posters are concerned, they were not in the greatest condition (there were tapes at the folding sections) I decided not to get them. As far as the prices for which the posters sold, it is interesting to note that the ones from 1949 and 1955 sold in $300 range, and the 1939 posters were sold for $18,000 and $19,000 to the same bidder who was bidding against bidders on the phone and seemed to be willing to go even higher.

In conclusion, I learned that the Wizard of Oz posters present a whole different area of interest and value to collectors. While you are searching for collectible Wizard of OZ books, you might stumble upon another treasure, except this time in the form of a poster.

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