At Collectors Quest, we get countless questions asking us to identify or value items. While the standard answer concerns the fact that we’re not appraisers (and it’s generally impossible to determine the real value of something with a fuzzy cellphone picture), we occasionally get an item or two that I personally have some expertise in. I don’t know anything about your vintage telephones or classic car parts (but post some pictures to our community, and you’ll probably find someone who does!), but if it’s about something nerdy, I’m probably there.
So, yesterday, we received this question… which will attest to the nebulousness of the questions we sometimes get. With apologies to our audience, I can’t psychically probe your mind from hundreds of miles away to know what the heck you’re trying to say. If I could, I’d form a team of vigilante mutants and shave my head. I repeat verbatim:
i have a poster old everybody in the poster facing east. that poster is side down The fellowship some little people,one old man one young man
A poster with people looking in one direction isn’t really something one can easily Google up an answer to, but the use of the word ‘fellowship’ is generally pretty limited. This was either a terrible motivational poster, something to do with The Lord of the Rings. I asked for a picture, and the image at right was sent.
I’m a bit of a fantasy art nerd. There was a time when I drew lots of fairies, and collected every Spectum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art book there was. I collected signed Magic cards and original art, and I played Dungeons and Dragons.
And this poster looked like a Hildebrandt. Something about the lighting and figural approach made this style familiar. Lo and behold, this was created by Greg and Tim Hildebrandt, who had originally become known for their Lord of the Rings calendar illustrations (and later, many other things). Somewhere in my vast collection of fantasy art, I have something signed by Greg Hildebrandt, after I stumbled across his booth at an art fair in high school.
But back to this particular poster, which was accompanied by the message, and I once again quote :
What is this?How much is this?
This particular poster has been reprinted a few times. One printing (presumably the original, or at least an early copy), as you can see below, included a large white border with the words ‘The Fellowship’ printed below the image—not appearing on top of the painted image at all.
A later printing of this poster juxtaposed the large ‘Fellowship’ banner over the image itself, and was printed by Scorpio Posters, this time giving precedence to the artists over the subject.
Scorpio didn’t even print this just once, but multiple times, rearranging the placement of the text.
The whole ‘unfurling paper’ device used to display these words seems to have been added by the designers of the poster, as this same imagery appears on multiple posters of the Hildebrandts’ Lord of the Rings work.
Some copies of this image include the full ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ text in this banner (rather than just ‘Fellowship’), but there’s no evidence that the image of the inquirer’s poster ever existed in that form. The short answer to this pressing question is this: someone cut your poster.
Sure, it’s an awesome image, but someone trimmed off all of the text and put this poster into a frame. Even in its full form, it’s generally not worth more than $20, as it’s still being printed today and is fairly common. Yes, this presentation is far more aesthetic and, arguably, an improvement over the full version, but it’s also incomplete. From my assessment, based on a small, unclear photo, and without removing this from the frame to inspect any writing or dating around the edges, this is a cut poster, with value to fantasy art and LOTR collectors, but probably not much else. Still, this is a fortuitous find, with The Hobbit arriving in theaters before too long.
But it’s still a pretty rad poster.