IT WAS while working on film-sale catalogues as a photographer at Christie’s in the 1980s that Andy Johnson fell in love with movie posters. Now, 35 years on, he is selling his outstanding collection at Ewbank’s Auctions on Friday 6 December.
With 400 lots up for sale in the single-owner collection, the auctioneers are hoping for up to £160,000 as a hammer total.
“I loved the collectors’ departments at Christie’s, especially the decorative arts and the pop and film memorabilia,” says Andy. “I started collecting 60s Poole and Troika pottery, but after about 250 pieces I started to go off the boil with the ceramics, so I started to look for something new to collect.”
It was his late wife, Maria, who pointed the way.
“She was a big fan of movies and drew my attention to film posters. I bought my first film poster from an Art Deco fair. I had the choice of buying The Jungle Book one sheet or Breakfast at Tiffany’s; I ended up buying The Jungle Book – what a mistake.”
Then, as luck would have it, Christie’s decided to have its first all-film poster sale.
“While I was photographing the posters, I fell in love with many of the titles and images. I started to buy a few items here and there but had no real direction with what to collect.
“After years of collecting, I’ll use the words of my favourite author, Dennis Wheatley, who started his memoirs with ‘The time has come’”.
Dedicating the sale to Maria, “without whom this would not have been possible”, Andy explains that his collecting tastes have been informed by favourite films, directors and designs.
The top estimate is between £9,000 and £12,000 for a 1962 quad poster of the James Bond film Dr No, while another British quad poster, for the 1964 Bond adventure Goldfinger, is expected to fetch between £3,000 and £5,000.
A 1954 quad for the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Dial M For Murder, starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelly, is estimated at between £5,000 and £8,000.
Also estimated at between £3,000 and £5,000 is a US one-sheet poster for Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi epic 2001 A Space Odyssey. It’s an unusual view, showing astronaut Dave Bowman walking around the space station.
A striking double bill of The Evil of Frankenstein and Nightmare, from 1964, share the honours on a British quad with an estimate of between £1,000 and £1,500, the same estimate as a poster for one of the earliest Hitchcock films, Lifeboat, from 1944.
As a specialist himself, Johnson took particularly good care of his posters, acquiring those in the best available condition and ensuring that they were properly backed, conserved and preserved in optimum conditions.
“If I found another copy of the same poster in better condition I would upgrade, buying it and selling off the other one,” he reveals.
“Andy Johnson’s poster passion shines through this collection,” says Ewbank’s specialist Alastair McCrea. “He was in the rare position of being in the right place at the right time when Christie’s started dedicated film poster sales and he developed a highly-attuned eye for the best available pieces. This is an exceptional offering.”
Ewbank’s can be telephoned on 01483 223101 or emailed at email@example.com.
For the full story get the 5 December edition of the News & Mail