Posters originated over 100 years ago in Paris as an eye-catching way to advertise a product, show or a vacation spot. These lithographs showed striking, humorous or simply beautiful images intended to attract the public’s attention long enough to convey the advertiser’s message. Posters quickly became a popular form of street art – they could be understood easily and appreciated by everyone. Though many people at the time realized that they were looking at true pieces of art, the lithographers who printed them used fragile newsprint to keep printing costs down.
Posters were intended to be used for a short time – usually one or two weeks – and then thrown out. Most posters were either discarded, recycled, or have simply been destroyed by the march of time. One hundred years is a long time for a piece of newsprint to last. Few survive in good condition today, and international desire for these lithographs has blossomed over the past decade.
The combination of a finite quantity and ever-increasing demand has led to a fairly steady rise in poster prices. Many posters that cost between $200 and $500 in the early 1990’s now sell for between $1,000 and $10,000. Posters that survived in a quantity might sell for a fairly constant price for a few years, but, when the available quantity diminishes and dealers can no longer replace the poster easily, then watch out! The price of a good image can double very quickly. Posters have made very good investments, with the extra dividend that they add smiles to your daily life.
Owner and collector, Alan Dickar, fell in love with vintage posters by accident. In 1995, while working as an economist in New York City, a friend asked him to help flip posters at an antique show. Alan was immediately captivated by the posters and the rich history they tell. He bought 77 posters from his friend and began selling them as a hobby. He soon realized that he enjoyed posters more than economics, took a leave of absence from his job, and became a full time poster dealer.
In 2001, after six years of doing poster shows and lectures on both the east and west coasts, Alan came to Maui on a whim and set up a temporary gallery in the historic Old Lahaina Store building at 744 Front Street. The gallery was supposed to last two months. That was over a decade ago. The collection is now one of the largest in the U.S. with over 70,000 vintage posters.
Our philosophy is to not only to find images in good condition that we can sell at very reasonable prices, but to create an environment that makes people feel welcome and comfortable within these doors. We’re more than just an art gallery and antiques shop; between our staff and our clients, we’re one big, outlandish family, a fact that keeps many of our patrons coming back year after year. It usually starts with passing along our passion and knowledge for posters, and inevitably develops into strong and meaningful friendships outside of the business. Whether you’re in the gallery to buy a few posters, swap stories about the kids and family, or get advice on the best places to eat in Maui, anyone who comes in to Vintage European Posters usually comes back. This is a special fact that we attribute a large portion of our success to.
This blog is our attempt to reach out to those who have yet to wonder in, so that you can still be a part of the action, joy, and beauty that is Vintage European Posters.