How to turn free theatre posters into cash

The power of free…

This week I want to reveal how you can source posters for free and then turn around and sell them for a handsome profit on eBay.

If you have ever travelled on the London Underground, I’m sure you will have noticed all those colourful posters adorning the walls as you travel up and down the escalators…

The truth is you can’t help but notice them, because of the time it takes you to ride to the top or the bottom: you are in effect a captive audience.

Similar to being in a queue for the supermarket checkout, you are a marketer’s dream because they have your undivided attention for a couple of minutes.

Therefore, whether you like it or not, as you move along the escalators, you are being passively ‘sold to’.

Personally, this doesn’t bother me at all: in fact I like it. The posters on the London Underground tend to be glamorous and informative, especially if you are a tourist.

These temporary pieces of ‘wall art’ reflect the passing of the seasons as they inform you of current and forthcoming events in the city and beyond: outdoor music concerts in the summer and carol services in the winter, Wimbledon in the summer and ice-skating over the Christmas period; and then there are a multitude of theatre productions all year around, finally terminating the year with panto.

Have you ever wondered though, what happens to these posters after they are removed –  or indeed how one could get hold of a copy of a poster for yourself?

Well I have… often.

The opportunity in this instance: these temporary advertising posters are a form of wall art, which people might be willing to pay for!

Having been connected with the antiques and art world for many years, I have always been aware that vintage posters not only make good wall art, but some also have the potential to become quite valuable as the years pass by.

The problem was that I couldn’t see how to track these posters down once they became redundant and were been removed…

So I decided to go all Sherlock Holmes and investigate!

It turns out that London Underground is also aware of the value of posters: they have collected the very best of their discarded posters and created a rather unique poster collection of their own.

Additionally, they have gone on to create limited editions of the originals, which are now available for sale in their online shop.

OK…so I drew a blank there.

Then I had a brainwave… Simple really – I thought: ‘Why not just go to the theatres directly and ask if they have any spare posters which are surplus to requirement?’

Well, I was in luck. Some theatres were a bit snooty, but most were helpful. The trick is to get friendly with someone behind the counter in the theatre foyer, and to ask for posters from past productions, rather than current live productions.

You could tell them that you are putting together a personal collection of posters: that’s the line I used.

The best part is that I have, so far, never had to pay for the posters which I have collected.

I accept that not everyone lives in, or close to London. But this little opportunity is not just restricted to London, as there are many provincial theatres around the country, all sporting very attractive advertising posters.

Net result is that I collected about 20 posters – for free – all of which I put on eBay a week ago. So far, I have sold three of them for £10 each; the Cabaret poster shown in this article being one in question.

I do hope you like this little idea. At the very least, if you find a poster you like, you can frame it and keep it for yourself – they really to make quite a statement on the wall!

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