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Star Wars Movie Posters
A Guide to Authentication

Star Wars material is without a doubt the most difficult to authenticate in the movie poster hobby. Everyone seems to have an opinion. I've had quite a few of the style A one-sheets in my hands over the years -- ones that have come directly from theaters, and am most confident with that particular one. As you are aware, there are authorized reprints of this poster, which is something not to worry about because you can tell them apart from the originals via size. But the Star Wars series is one of the only set of NSS posters to be forged. The first set of forgeries made on the style A are the ones with the 21-0 or 21-1 instead of the 77/21. You're one step ahead when you have the 77/21 on the bottom. Much weight has been given to the dimensions of the posters, the distances of the blue border from the inner image, and the exact width of each of the four borders. I no longer can agree that any of this is set in stone. I've seen two copies of the poster, in my hands; from two different theaters, and in both cases the posters were not disturbed from their release in 1977. I personally removed them from the theaters, so there was no opportunity for anyone to slip me a fake. In both cases, the owners had no interest in their posters, which had been sitting for years, and I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that both copies were authentic. Yet the left and right borders varied by 1/16 of an inch on both, and the top and bottom border measurements did not match either. I've stopped paying attention to the 1/16 of an inch differences. I am told that the measurement differences of 1/8 or higher are significant. At the moment, I have a Star Wars A that I just picked up in a theater in Kentucky, in the midst of thousands of posters and again, I know for a fact that its an original (the gentleman had not disturbed it for years). It can be argued that the white border of the LEFT of this poster is exactly one inch on the top, and may be closer to 1 1/16 inch on bottom and exactly the reverse is true of the RIGHT border. I know this was not the case with the other two originals I had. Keep in mind there was a first printing, and then many other original year printings done in different NSS locations in the country. Not every SW poster definitively came off the same machine, the same day. If there were other printings that year, in other locations, it’s very likely that the borders would be off from one another, in this small way. So, bottom line: I've learned from many discussions with others who own the style A, and my own ownership at various times of guaranteed authentic copies that one cannot necessarily rely on the borders within 1/16 of an inch. Most of the forgeries I've seen that DON'T have the 77/21-O or 21-1 indication on the bottom have borders off by more than 1/16.

There are lots of forgeries of the style A's and C's. If you see rolled ones for less than $175 you are most likely wasting your money on a fake. Most experts say if it's rolled don't buy it. Collectors report forgeries of Star Wars style A and C with 77/21 and 77/21-0 as well as 77/21-1. Some people say that only 77/21-0 are copied. Not True! Most of the fakes came from major dealers. I'll tell you this, I have bought several SW style A’s, I have yet to get a real rolled one. I have bought folded examples, which are good. I personally won't buy them anymore unless I can get them from a theater.

Star Wars Original Mylar One Sheet First Advance First version.

This poster was the first THEATER poster produced for Star Wars. The image does not do it justice. The letters and border are Mylar, in other words they appear as a mirror image (hence very difficult to photograph). These posters were shipped flat to theaters in wooden boxes. The flat shipping was done because if these posters are rolled tighter than about 4" diameter they will tend to separate or "delaminate". In other words, the Mylar will separate from the paper backing. Sadly this has been the fate of most of these posters. The Star Wars logo is not the standardized logo that was later adopted.

Star Wars First Advance Second version

The First advance second version is on card stock.

Star Wars Advance Style B

Watch out for is the SW Teaser "B". If it is less than $200 my experience is that it is fake. I have bought 5 rolled ones in the last couple of months and they were all forgeries. What I do know is that the most common forgery of the "B" teaser is that it is missing the union label (it is a small oval). It should be in the bottom border. All of the ones I have seen are fake. I have not seen a real one. I've also been told that some of the letters are not as sharp as they should be.

The B Teasers look pretty bad and are fairly easy to spot because the lettering is so soft looking and the color is off.

Star Wars Style A Poster

This was the poster that accompanied Star Wars on its first release. The art is by Tom Jung. This art was only used on the theater posters (which were also used for advertising merchandise). Many people will say "but I had that on a T-shirt". Artwork used on other products was similar but created by the Hildebrandt brothers (of comic book fame).

On the "A" style: The fake I have with the 77/21-0 is a heavier and glossier paper than the real folded one. The artwork is also almost a full 1/4" smaller. The paper is obvious when you put them side-by-side. Also, the real one is a little darker brown in the bottom left corner of the art. I have seen it written that there were print runs with both the 77/21-0 and 77/21 without the "Star Wars" written under the number but the fake I have does not have it. The union logo on the fake is much larger then the real one. It is 1/4" across on the fake and just a bit over 1/8" on the real. The rolled one I have, I now think, is real. It's almost a perfect match with the folded one. It is definitely a different print run however since it does not say "Star Wars" under the 77/21.

I found out that if you look at the reprint of the "A" right below Luke's belt you can see a dust line (I think dark in color) where a hair got on the negative.

It can get discouraging. I recently had one "expert" tell me that the only fakes of the "A" have the 77/21-0 or 77/21-1. The next day I got an email from a poster consultant who said that there are fakes of the poster with the 77/21. They also said that they have NEVER seen a real rolled "A".

Here is how I (CURRENTLY) would describe an original Star Wars Style A poster: The art from outer border to outer border is 24 15/16" - 25 inches. - One white border on the left is exactly 1 inch. The white border on right is exactly 1 inch, or only 1/16" inch larger or smaller than 1 inch. Very slight indent for the word COPYRIGHT on the very bottom of poster (about 1/8 inch). The sign for copyright (c with circle) below the image but above the credits is, if you measure to the dead CENTER of the circle, 1/2 inch from the outside blue border, 3/8 inch from the inside of blue border, and 1/4 inch from BROWN edge of art. The Graphic arts international logo and Litho in USA are closer to the bottom edge of the poster than the lower blue border. In other words, they aren't exactly in the center of the lower white border. The GAI logo lies a bit above the litho in USA words. The 77/21 is flush with the outer blue border. It can have two types of type used. I know this because of the one I got out of a Canadian theater. It can have the elongated numeric font used by NSS, which measures 1/4 inch high, or it can have the slightly shorter, thicker font. The words Star Wars appear below the 77/21. Again, I know for a fact that the originals do have Star Wars written under the 77/21 (or at least all that I've ever seen). And again, I don't know what to say about rolled ones. I have yet to see an authentic rolled Style A, though they may exist. 

The style A's were printed by National Screen Service. Up until the early 80's, they handled the printing and distribution of movie posters for all the major studios. They tended to get a little funny with the codes that were printed in the corners of the posters. Every time they went back and printed the A's, they would change the code. It was probably an inventory thing. 

About seven years ago, a company (whose name now escapes me) reprinted thousands of Star Wars A's, C's and B teasers. The A's are extremely difficult to spot and dealers have been selling them as original ever since they showed up. The reprinted ones have the designation "77/21-0" at the bottom. That doesn't mean that all of the posters with the other designation are fakes, there are at least four different printing codes on the original A's, but the rolled ones with the "-0" are all suspect now.  

Star Wars Style C Poster

The C's are not quite as difficult to spot, but they still look pretty good and I'm sure a lot of people have been ripped off. The only good way to know if it has been reprinted is to look at the dot pattern of the color separation with a 30-power magnifying lens. If most of the dots are perfectly round, then it is an original. If most of the dots look broken or moon shaped, then it has been "re- separated" from an original printing and is a fake. 

Star Wars Style D Poster

This poster was issued in 1978 after Star Wars had been in the theaters for a while. The art is by Drew Struzan and Charles White III. This art is rumored to hang in the home of George Lucas and to be one of his favorites. This art may have lead one movie critic to dub Star Wars a "cheap Tarzan movie".

The SW style "D" reprints have a dot matrix serial number on them. The rolled one I have has the union label going into the credit portion of the poster somewhat. I am told that there are no known forgeries of this poster just the reprints.

Star Wars Birthday Poster

This poster was issued in 1978 to those theaters that had played Star Wars for 1 year continuously. Probably fewer than 500 of these posters were ever printed. It is now one of the most sought-after Star Wars posters.

Revenge Of The Jedi

Be careful with the Revenge posters. I will no longer buy this poster with the release date since most being sold today are forgeries. The forgeries are folded in many cases. The same poster without the date has no known forgeries. On the Revenge, the fakes I have seen have blurry 20th Century Fox logos. The one I have now actually has the blue color of the logo in the bottom right corner.

On the ROTJ Style A: I was told that the top horizontal light bar coming off of the saber has color in it. It does in all of mine. The copy I'm told is a white line. I am also told that on the same forgery there is a curved hairline. Almost as if a piece of dust got on the negative ­­­­‑‑ you can easily see about 2 centimeters to the right of the moon in the bottom left of the art. I did notice that one of my rolled ones was darker in the area to the left side of the saber. This was the one I suspected might be fake. 

I get about two or three offers a month to buy REVENGE of the Jedi One-sheets. Those are the worst. I have a standard email reply to those, I just can't afford the mistake. Beware on the Revenge with the date. There are many forgeries of this poster out there. In particular look for a hairline of red above the yellow line.

QUICK RULES OF THUMB

1. Star Wars Style "A" - Copyright at left bottom is flush with artwork on fake. Should be indented slightly (a little less then 1/8th"). Also, look for hairline on Luke’s belt.

2. Star Wars Style "A" - Artwork is slightly smaller on fake.

3. Star Wars Style "C" - Hard to tell. The faces of the characters are yellowish on the fakes rather than orange-brown.

4. Star Wars Style "D" - The fake has a dot matrix serial number on the bottom border.

5. Star Wars Advance Style "B" - Smearing around some of the edges of the letters on the fake. Also, the fake is missing the union label left of center on the bottom is missing.

6. Revenge of the Jedi Advance (The one with the opening date) Blurred 20th Century Fox Logo on fake also you can see the fold lines from the original the fake was copied from. Look for a hairline of red between the yellow stripe and black background. I have also heard that there are no known rolled copies of this poster.

 

 


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