Treasures: Bond posters fetch a pretty moneypenny
'I will wear this one in Piccadilly," says Tatiana, trying on dresses. "You won't," James replies. "They've just passed some new laws there."
A classic Bond quote from the movie From Russia With Love. When the film came out in 1963 there were some laws in Ireland too. The Irish censor took issue with the scantily clad women on the posters that accompanied the films.
In a small studio over the Royal Irish Automobile Club on Dawson Street, someone was employed to paint dresses on the Bond girls. In the posters for From Russia With Love, the glorious Daniela Bianchi has an unlikely black trouser suit painted under her negligee. The belly dancer was given an oriental dress.
The censored posters were put back into the film canisters and sent off to cinemas around the country.
James Bond film posters are among the most collectible of all movie posters and the heavy blue pen of censorship seriously devalues them. An original uncensored From Russia With Love poster might fetch between €2,000 and €3,000. With censorship, the value could drop to between €1,500 and €1,200.
The poster is designed by Renato Fratini. It features Sean Connery with his gun held diagonally across his shoulder. This iconic stance was also used in the posters for You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever, and The Man With The Golden Gun.
Ironically, the gun in the image is not Bond's weapon of choice. According to Bond experts Ajay Chowdhury and Matthew Field, someone forgot to bring the Walther PPK to the photoshoot. The gun in the poster is an air pistol, scavenged from the special effects team, but it looked so good that it was used in many of the posters thereafter. And Connery wore a toupee in all of them.
Bond posters come in several shapes and sizes. The classic, and probably the most desirable, is called a British quad. It's a landscape poster and measures 30in x 40in. "The nice thing about the quad poster is the artwork was designed for landscape format. The designs don't work so well when they're translated into portrait," says Stuart Purcell of Whyte's.
A poster in the smaller British portrait format, the double crown (30in x 20in) will be worth considerably less than a quad. American posters had different designs and the American posters, known as one sheets, are also portrait format (41in x 27in). Because collectors generally prefer posters that were produced for the country of origin, Bond poster collectors generally prefer the British versions and most collectors tend to go for either British or American.
"There's very little crossover," says Purcell. Rare Bond posters, in any format, can make tremendous money. This November, a set of six US door panel posters for Casino Royale (1967) sold at Christies of London for £23,750 (€33,809).
Whyte's next sale of Sports and Entertainment Memorabilia on December 13 and 14 features a collection of Bond posters, including two versions of the poster of You Only Live Twice (1967). The design, by Robert McGinnis, shows Connery as Bond being bathed by beautiful Japanese women. Bond's comment was that he liked the plumbing.
One of the two posters is a rare British double-crown (€300 to €500) produced for the re-release of the film with the image in black and white. The other is an American teaser one-sheet (€400 t0 €600). It was sold prior to the release and shows images from previous Bond films.
Robert McGinnis also designed the poster for Thunderball (1965). Until Skyfall (2012), this was the highest grossing Bond film (when ticket inflation is taken into account). Whyte's have a British quad poster of the film, estimated between €2,000 and €3,000. It shows Bond with a harpoon and four bathing beauties, three of them in bikinis. I'm not sure how the censor handled this one, but I do know that the girl wearing Bond's shirt in the poster of Dr No was traditionally given pyjama bottoms.
Whyte's have a British double crown poster issued for the re-release of Dr No in 1968 (€200 and €300). The poster is designed by Michael Hooks in the classic three-girl format, with both front and back views of Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder in her famous white bikini. The bikini was sold at Christies in 2001 for more than £40,000 (€56,942).
None of the posters in this particular sale have been censored and all are unrestored. Typically, all of them have been folded as they were shipped to the cinemas in film canisters. Pin holes at the corners and writing on the back are also par for the course. And, because they were printed on cheap paper, you can expect a certain amount of deterioration. That's why a lot of people who buy the posters are happy to invest a little more in having them restored.
Felix O'Donoghue of MGM posters specialises in vintage poster restoration. "The first step is to have a poster linen-backed. This means that we wash it to de-acidify the paper and mount it on to Japanese acid-free paper and linen."
The process preserves the poster without changing it in any way and is entirely reversible. It costs around €95 for a British quad poster. O'Donoghue also offers a full restoration service and finds that collectors who spend between €2,000 and €3,000 on a poster are often prepared to invest another €250 on restoration.
The service can even be extended to removing the work of the Irish censor. He is currently restoring a Dr No poster to its former glory by uncensoring Ursula Andress.
For further details see whytes.ie and mgmposters.com.
In the salerooms
"P.S. I send you a parcel, and I send you at the same time an eye… I think the likeness will strike you."
The quote comes from a letter sent by the Prince of Wales to Mrs Maria Fitzherbert in 1785. The gift was a portrait of his eye mounted within a piece of jewellery.
The 'eye miniature' or 'lover's eye', once given by 18th-century lovers, remains a popular gift today. There's one (below) coming up at Adam's auction of Fine Jewellery and Watches, which takes place on December 8.
An eye, hand painted on an ivory plaque, peeps from within an oval brooch with a gilt metal granulation border. It is inscribed "James Adams 18 July 1786" and is estimated to sell for between €400 and €600.
The sale ranges from a diamond and sapphire bracelet (€85,000 to €95,000) to smaller pieces with estimates in the low hundreds.
Extravagant pieces include a ruby and diamond ring by Lacloche Frères (1905). The oval plaque is set with rubies with a diamond embellished flower at the centre. It's guided €10,000 to €15,000.
The sale also includes an angular, slightly architectural pendant with a rectangular aquamarine and a diamond surround in a geometric pattern (€9,000 to €12,000).
Adam's will also hold a sale of books on December 14 and one of cartography on December 15 with details on adams.ie.
The next Fine Jewellery and Silver auction at John Weldon Auctioneers takes place on December 8 at 2pm. The last sale, which took place on November 24, showed a brisk trade in 19th century Irish silver flatware (that's knives, forks and spoons).
Twelve silver table forks sold for €500, 12 dessert spoons for €250, 12 dessert forks for €390 and six table spoons for €300. Five silver egg spoons sold for €105 and a pair of silver ladles for €130.
An Irish silver soup spoon sold for €200. All of these were made in Dublin by T Farnett between 1827 and 1828. A further 12 silver dessert forks made in Dublin by P Walsh in 1838 sold for €500. An Irish silver hook-end soup ladle (1794) made in Dublin by Michael Keating sold for €300, while an Irish silver shell-top meat skewer or letter opener (1755) made in Dublin by Anthony Bate sold for €255. See jwa.ie.
As Dolly Parton says, it's hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world. Diamonds, however, show no signs of lingering in the auction rooms this Christmas.
O'Reilly's reported a brisk turnover in their November sale with a graduated diamond line necklace by Boodles selling for €17,000.
The next top lots were a diamond solitaire ring (€13,000) and a diamond line bracelet, also by Boodles, which sold for €12,000. A diamond solitaire pendant, with a pear-shaped diamond mounted in platinum on a platinum chain, sold for €8,000 and an antique emerald and diamond cluster ring fetched €7,200.
The trap-cut emerald had a diamond surround and shoulders, and was mounted in white gold. In gentlemen's watches, an 18ct gold Rolex Oyster perpetual wrist watch sold for €6,900 and 18ct gold Patek Philippe for €4,100.
O'Reilly's next auction of Fine Jewellery and Silver takes place on Wednesday, December 16 with details on oreillysfineart.com.