Poster Collecting Terminology
Commonly (and not so commonly) used terms in poster collecting:
Ad Back Postcard
which has information or advertising (often of future shows) on the reverse rather
than a standard postcard back.
Paper, ink, framing or storage materials of a quality or standard suitable
for long term storage of a poster, document or work of art. These materials are generally
acid free, alkaline buffered or inert and are intended to preserve and protect documents
or artwork. (e.g. Mylar-D sleeves, acid free mattes and backing boards, cotton rag
papers, enameled metal cabinets,...) Unfortunately, there are no standards regulating
the use of the term "archival" and many non-archival materials are misrepresented
as being archival. Some of these materials can actually accelerate the degradation
of items which are stored in them. (Note that wood pulp based papers are inherently
unstable. With the passage of time, they naturally decompose and release acids which
further accelerate their decay. Excessive handling also contributes to the degradation
of paper. Anything that can be done to arrest these processes will prolong an item's
Storage in archival materials.
Posters or prints that are signed and marked
A/P are sometimes produced in addition to a signed and numbered limited edition.
These are normally assumed to have been created during the proofing of a print and
should number no more than ten percent of the total edition. This ten percent rule
has suffered much abuse in the hands of some poster artists who have printed large
numbers of A/P's.
Sometimes used to identify an Avalon Poster (as in Avalon #98).
Often used to describe a poster from the original Family Dog numbered
series posters (1966-1968). Most of the concerts documented by this poster series
were held at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco, California. (see Family Dog)
Shorthand for a poster from the series printed for Bill Graham between
1966 and 1973 (as in BG#98). (see Fillmore Poster)
Shorthand for a numbered poster from the ongoing Bill Graham Presents
poster series (as in BGP #100).
A poster printed by Bindweed Press. Bindweed Press printed many posters
in 1966 and 1967 including most of the early Family Dog Productions Avalon Ballroom
A postcard which has no printing of any
kind on the reverse.
Any counterfeit or unauthorized printing of a previously existing work.
A poster done in a style widely used in
the 1940's and 50's which consists primarily of block lettering and photos.
A postcard which has a bulk rate mailing
permit printed on the reverse. (Bulk rate postcards can be found in both mailed and
unmailed forms. If they were mailed by the promoter as an advertisement for an event,
they are also referred to as mailers.)
A complete set of all the images that were produced in postcard sized
format for a particular series.
A type of paper stock with a very smooth reflective finish.
A printers color reference strip printed in the margins of a four color
process press sheet. It is intended to be trimed off when the poster is cut to size.
One of the variations of a poster, postcard or handbill which exists
in more than one color scheme due to the use of different colors of ink or paper.
A light source mounted behind a rotating disc which is divided into
several different colored transparent sections. It sequentially casts different colors
of light onto a surface. Renowned 60's poster artist Victor Moscoso discovered that
he could create poster images which seemed to move or vibrate when illuminated by
a color wheel (by taking advantage of their sequential nature).
A small line on the full sheet of paper on which a poster is printed
which indicates where it is to be cut to size.
A single-sized postcard which has been been obtained by cutting an uncut
double in half.
A single image postcard that is the size of two standard sized postcards
from the Bill Graham or Family Dog series. (also see Uncut Double)
Sometimes used synonymously with "printing" as in the 1st
edition of a poster or the 1st printing of a poster.
Shorthand for a numbered poster from the ongoing (1988 -present) Fillmore poster
series (as in F #250).
The production company of a long running series of rock
concerts primarily at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco but also at the Crystal
Ballroom in Portland, in Denver, and the Great Highway in San Francisco. This name
also appears on events produced from the 1960's to the present including early posters
from the Maritime Hall in San Francisco. The Family Dog began as a collective but
is primarily associated with Chet Helms. (see Avalon)
A poster published by the Family Dog.
Used to refer to one or more of the following venues: the Fillmore Auditorium
or the Fillmore West (as distinguished from the Fillmore East or the recently opened
Fillmore Auditorium Denver).
Sometimes used to identify a Fillmore Poster (as in Fillmore #98).
Often used to refer to a numbered poster in the
first or second "Fillmore" poster series (1966-1973 and 1988-present, respectively)
produced by and for Bill Graham or Bill Graham Presents.
Shorthand for a poster printed for the Family Dog (as in FD #26). (see
A complete set of one of each of the posters or
postcards from a numbered series all of which must be 1st printings. (See Image Set)
An alternate term for "handbill". It is sometimes used to
differentiate between 81/2" x 11" fliers and smaller handbills. "Flier"
is also often used in association with advertising for New Wave or Punk handbills
from the late 1970's through the 1980's.
A high-end digital printing process utilizing fade-resistant archival inks and usually reserved for fine art prints.
Using a set of conventions (e.g. mint, near mint, fine, very good, etc.)
to describe the condition of an item.
A postcard produced by and for the promoter Russ Gibb to advertise events
held at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit and other locations in the mid to late 1960's.
An advertisment (usually 8 1/2 by 11 inches or smaller) printed on paper
which is designed to be handed out to potential customers. Among poster collectors,
this term has traditionally been used to refer to blank-backed concert advertisements
printed on thin paper (as opposed to the thicker stock on which postcards are normally
printed). However, there are handbills which were printed on thick stock.
A printing press flaw that shows up on a print as a small blemish or
spot. Generally caused by a small piece of foreign material on the printing plate
A set of posters or a mixed set of postcards and handbills consisting
of one of each of the produced images from a numbered series. The distinction between
an image set and a set of 1st printings is most commonly used when referring to a
series such as the Fillmore or Avalon series where there were several printings of
many of the posters. In these same series, it would be necessary to combine postcards
and handbills to create a small format image set since many images were only produced
in one format or the other.
A ticket which bears a miniature image of the poster with which it is
associated. Many multi-day events have a different color variant for each show date.
This is a term which is sometimes used incorrectly to refer to ink which
has transferred to the back of a poster from being in contact with the face of another
poster while the ink was still wet. The correct term is "set off". (It
is also commonly referred to by printers as "offset".) In plain English
it might best be called "ink transfer".
A poster whose print run is limited to a specific
disclosed number of copies. There are also signed and numbered limited editions in
which each poster is hand-signed and consecutively hand numbered by the artist (1/100,
Loosely used in the Rock Poster world to describe posters that are printed
by offset lithography.
A lithograph is a print created by the direct contact of paper with
an inked stone or other plane surface (as opposed to a print created by the indirect
method of offset lithography). This process is used primarily for limited-edition
art prints. (Rock posters and prints are not lithographs.)
A handbill or postcard that was sent through the mail by or for the
promoter as an advertisement for an event. Types of mailers include singles, doubles
and uncut doubles.
Refers to the ability of a picture framing matte to cover flaws in a
poster so as to be unnoticable when framed.
A precision measuring instrument used to measure thickness of material
down to 1/1000th of an inch. Sometimes used to measure poster paper thickness.
Description refering to an image printed using one color of ink on one
shade of paper stock (as opposed to polychromatic or multicolored).
Sometimes used to identify a numbered poster in the second and ongoing
Fillmore poster series (1988-present).
A limited edition poster in which each individual
poster is individually and consecutively numbered.
A poster which is part of a numbered series.
A series of posters, postcards, or handbills
usually from one venue, or one production company, in which each image bears or has
been assigned a a number by the promoter or by accepted convention.
A print is off register when the various colors used to make up an image
do not line up properly.
A poster printed on an offset lithographic press, commonly referred to as a "printing press". This includes the vast majority of posters and is the same process which is used to print newspapers and magazines.
A poster which was printed for the original promoter and during the
same era as the event which it promotes (as opposed to a later reprint or unauthorized
The actual one of a kind artwork and/or mechanicals
from which the printing plates which produced a poster were created. Original art
sometimes consists of several original images that were combined to produce the finished
The first printing of a poster.
The type of paper on which something is printed. Paper is normally manufactured
in very large sheets or rolls and later cut to size. The composition, texture and
finish of a paper are cumulatively referred to as its stock.
Printing or Pirate
Sometimes used to refer to an unauthorized
or "bootleg" printing of a poster.
Stamp Here Back
A postcard which bears the words "Place
Stamp Here" on the reverse. (See Blank Back Postcard, Bulk Rate Postcard)
Technically, a postcard should have a postcard back. However, among
poster collectors, this term has traditionally been used to refer to any postcard
or handbill which is of postcard size and is printed on the weight of stock on which
postcards are normally printed. (See Blank Back Postcard, Bulk Rate Postcard, Cut
Double, Double, Place Stamp Here Back,Uncut Double)
A sample print pulled before a full press run
usually to evaluate color and the desired esthetics of the print. Also used to refer
to an untrimmed press sheet.
A set of press sheets made up of several or all
of the possible color combinations leading to a finished print.
The uncut sheet of paper from which a finished print or prints is cut.
Many proofsheets contain a poster, several postcards and possibly tickets as well.
Proofsheets can be complete or partial depending on whether the entire sheet is present
An abreviation for "point" a printing term referring to the
thickness of paper measured in 1/1,000ths of an inch.
The size of type, lines and spacing measured in 72nds of an inch.
Not an original or 1st printing but an authorized reprint of a previously
printed artwork. (An unauthorized printing is called a "bootleg".)
Generally refers to a full set of posters, postcards, handbills or tickets
from a defined venue or a complete sequence of posters from a numbered series. (See
Card Set, 1st Printing Set, Image Set, Ticket Set)
By The Artist
An item that has been hand-signed by the
artist who produced the art or graphics for a poster or handbill. This term does
not refer to a printed artist's credit or to a printed facsimile signature that appears
on a handbill or poster which is technically referred to as "signed in the plate".
In The Plate
A poster or print which includes a printed
(not hand signed) artistÕs signature is referred to as "signed in the plate".
Commonly used to refer to a poster or print created by the silkscreen
A postcard that contains a single poster image.
A printing technique which is used to create subtle gradations of color
or to simulate the printing of additional colors from a single printing plate or
screen. The effect is achieved by applying different colors of ink to different areas
of the printing surface.
This usually refers to a set of all the different color variants of
an particular image ticket (as in a BG #105 ticket set). A set of all the different
variants of all the image tickets in the original Bill Graham series would be refered
to as a complete Bill Graham image ticket set. (See Image Ticket)
The area on a poster, postcard or handbill
which contains information about where to purchase tickets for the event which it
A poster produced without the approval of either
the promoter or the performers.
A paper stock which has a very even surface but
does not have a reflective coating.
A pair of posters or postcards which were printed side by side (or end
to end) on a single sheet of paper and which have not been cut apart. Many of the
postcards which were mailed to those on the mailing lists of Bill Graham and the
Family Dog were mailed out as uncut doubles. Over the years some people have cut
these double cards in half for various reasons. The resulting "single"
cards should be referred to as "cut doubles".
Vellum is a heavy tracing paper-like stock. As the term is traditionaly
used by poster collectors, it refers to paper with a vellum finish, an uncoated paper
finish that is fairly even but with greater porousity and more tooth than a smooth
The place at which a concert or event is held. Famous venues include
the Fillmore Auditorium and Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco, the Fillmore East in
New York City, the Grande Ballroom in Detroit and the Vulcan Gas Company in Austin,
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