‘Spooky’ Movie Posters make Great Halloween Collectibles

Examples of this Donald Duck poster from the 1952 classic Disney short titled “Trick or Treat” have sold for $3,000 or more at auction in recent years.

Examples of this Donald Duck poster from the 1952 classic Disney short titled “Trick or Treat” have sold for $3,000 or more at auction in recent years.

The arrival of autumn always hints that one of the most favorite nights of the year is coming for collectors and children alike: “Halloween.”

While the kids are more interested in the candy and tend to go with the more modern and trendy superhero costumes and paraphernalia, the collectors know that the last yard sales and outdoor auctions of the year will offer up other kinds of goodies. One thing the kids and collectors both agree on is the spookier, the better.

Halloween and horror display pieces always have ready buyers, particularly those that are portable and don’t take up a lot of space. One item that leads the way is posters, with Halloween-themed movie posters and lobby cards by far the most lucrative find of the season. Values will, of course, vary, with some very early spooky and Halloween-related posters going for tens of thousands. But most of those huge finds are already well documented and have been snapped up by well-known collectors.

That’s not to say treasures are not still out there, hanging in old gas station offices covering a stovepipe hole or rolled up and stuffed in a suitcase full old letters and magazines. At first glance, you would not think many of these posters would be a valuable as they are, even though some from 1950s-era poster can go for four-figure sums.

This Donald Duck poster from the classic Disney short titled “Trick or Treat” is a good example. In the film Donald—known to love a good prank—gets a bit of his own back when his nephews call on Witch Hazel to brew up a magic potion to out-prank their Uncle. This poster for the 1952 Disney RKO movie was issued as a 27-inch by 41-inch one sheet. Most of them were filed away after they were taken down. Posters like this were often discarded after the film’s run, considered of little worth and no thought to them being collectible. The rare survivors of this poster have sold for $3,000 or more at auction in recent years.

This poster for the Rob Zombie remake of “Halloween II,” signed by Sherri Moon Zombie, Malcolm McDowell, Rob Zombie, Brad Dourif, Scout Taylor-Compton and Danielle Harris, sold for $275.

This poster for the Rob Zombie remake of “Halloween II,” signed by Sherri Moon Zombie, Malcolm McDowell, Rob Zombie, Brad Dourif, Scout Taylor-Compton and Danielle Harris, sold for $275.

It’s not just the older posters that are collectible. The original 1978 “Halloween” movie directed and scored by John Carpenter, starring Donald Pleasence and a very young Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut, has become a cult classic franchise. The film went on to spawn seven sequels, a remake and sequel by Rob Zombie in 2007 and 2009. This poster for the remake by Rob Zombie, signed by Sherri Moon Zombie, Malcolm McDowell, Rob Zombie, Brad Dourif, Scout Taylor-Compton and Danielle Harris sold for $275. It’s not uncommon for unsigned posters of the earlier films selling for over $100.

Even Halloween-related posters for advertising, events, carnivals and sideshows can go for substantial amounts. Larger examples in the 40-inch by 60-inch range, even by unknown makers, have sold for more than $800 at auction. As far back as the First World War, manufacturers have also have taken advantage of this popular peak of the fall season. This 28-inch by 21-inch poster, circa 1915, was made by the Otis Litho Co. of Cleveland for General Electric to advertise their “Mazda” standard light bulbs, first perfected about 1906. The poster depicting a rather unscary jack-o-lantern by table lamp with the slogan “Let Dim Light for Hallowe-en ‘Spooks’” has sold in the $300 to $450 range.

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Versions of this General Electric advertisement for its “Mazda” standard light bulbs with the slogan “Let Dim Light for Hallowe-en ‘Spooks’” have sold in the $300 to $450 range.

Nobody really knows just how many posters like the ones depicted above still remain hidden or stored in dusty basements, attics and garages across the country, but they are out there and no time better to search a bargain than in the last days before Halloween.


Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement. He can be reached through his website Antique-Appraise.com website.

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