Browse online poster gallery AntikBar, and the abundance of Soviet-era posters immediately grabs the attention. “They’re mainly from the 1920s and 1930s and from my personal collection,” says founder Kirill Kalinin, the economist-turned-dealer who launched AntikBar in 2011.
These Russian works account for 20 per cent of the more than 1,500 posters available on the site – the remainder take in a vast array of countries, styles and categories. Although the site specialises in posters, books and magazines, maps and prints are also for sale. A navigation bar allows users to search by date – the oldest item is a map of the Moscow Kremlin from 1686 and the most recent are from 2010. However, the bulk of the stock, says Kalinin, is from the 1930s to 1950s.
Categories include cinema, automobiles, war and sport, with the most popular being travel (which includes a 1970s drawing of the Alps by Salvador Dalí, £150, second picture, and a 1950s picture of Helsinki, £525, third picture) and advertising (a poster for the OBM furniture store in Rouen is £950, while a 1950s pin-up-style Philips Autoradio ad by French artist R Jeleng is £575, first picture).
Skiing posters in particular are highly sought after, says Kalinin, adding: “They are hard to come by and prices are going up year on year.” In the end, however, it’s about how a piece speaks to a buyer. “These works offer a strong emotional connection,” he says. “One gentleman bought an American Graffiti poster, as it was the first film he saw in a cinema with his father.”
All AntikBar’s works are guaranteed originals – the site is a member of the US-based International Vintage Poster Dealers’ Association, as well as LAPADA, the Association of Art & Antique Dealers, which has a strict code of practice and will intervene in the case of a dispute. In addition to offering advice for collectors and a search-on-demand service, AntikBar can help buyers find something specific, as Kalinin recently did for a client looking for South African posters. The site also works with a California-based restoration company to address colour loss, tears and stains.
“These posters mainly date back to a time pre-TV,” says Kalinin. “They were a way to reach a mass audience and designed to make you stop, look and remember. Today, they have become an alternative to modern art and are ideal for those wanting a bright, bold statement for their walls.”