John Wayne Movie Posters

John Wayne, born Marion Morrison, appeared in over 170 motion pictures between 1926 and 1976, averaging 3 ½ movies a year for 50 years. He is, arguably, the most famous and popular movie star of all time. Along with his movies, a trainload of John Wayne memorabilia has been produced, and most of it has been collected in one form or another.

by Larry LeMasters     Sep 20, 2017 @ 10:23


John Wayne with American flag

Authentic John Wayne Posters

While it is difficult, but possible to forge a movie poster, John Wayne’s signature is both valuable and easily forgettable. Authentic Wayne autographs are in great demand from collectors, bringing high dollars, especially when on a movie poster. On average, Wayne’s signature adds about $250 to a poster, photograph, or other piece of memorabilia.

Forgery Red Flags

One red flag indicating a possible forgery is prices far below market value. If a John Wayne poster with autograph is selling so inexpensive that it seems like it can’t be real—it probably isn’t. Buy from reputable dealers. Novice movie poster collectors need to realize that nearly 100% of all original movie posters, printed before 1985, were issued from studio to movie theaters folded.

John Wayne movie posters were actually used in theaters

Folds in a poster are not considered defects since the posters were shipped to theaters folded. Many original movie posters are sold today “linen backed,” which means that a backing has been placed on the original poster. Linen backing virtually eliminates fold lines and helps to preserve posters from ongoing wear. Be advised that some collectors seek only 100% authentic posters —no linen backing. It is also worth noting that nearly all John Wayne movie posters were actually used in a theater. Many of these posters contain slight imperfections, such as pinholes, fold marks (other than shipping folds), small tears, scotch tape, writing on the back, etc. Again, quality linen backing can remedy most of these imperfections, but having movie posters linen backed is an added expense.

The Searchers posterThe Searchers, 1956, is considered by many to be John Wayne’s greatest movie and the greatest western movie ever filmed. The poster is valued at $1,500.

John Wayne Posters That Still Exist

Wayne acted in 93 movies from 1930 to 1945 and 16 movies prior to 1930. Experts estimate that at most 20 movie posters exist from movies made prior to 1945, especially those made in the 1930s and WWII. Of Wayne’s famous movies from this era, such as Stagecoach (1939) and Flying Tigers (1942), fewer than 12 posters are thought to exist. Also note worthy movies in Wayne’s career from this era have few existing posters, such as Riders of Destiny (1933) which was his first teaming with Gabby Hayes and in which Wayne played a singing cowboy (his voice was dubbed). The two primary reasons for vintage, pre-war movies having so few posters survive are the paper drives of WWII when every scrap of paper was needed for the war effort and the 15¢ credit movie theaters were given for returning posters to the studios that issued them. Fifteen cents doesn’t seem like much now, but it could feed a family a meal during the dark days of the Great Depression.

The Fighting KentuckianThe Fighting Kentuckian is a beautiful and rare John Wayne one-sheet classic movie poster, from 1949, and is valued at $395.

Are these Posters Worth Anything?

All movie posters once played a role in advertising upcoming movies. John Wayne’s movie posters offer collectors an opportunity to see how Wayne’s movies were advertised along with the opportunity to come close to a Hollywood legend. John Wayne still embodies what many theatergoers consider the great American spirit. Nearly 40 years after his death, his movie posters continue to rise in value. And for those of you who think they are not a good investment, John, himself, in The Searchers (1956) answered if his posters would ever decrease in value, Stating, “That’ll be the day!”.

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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance PosterThe author’s favorite John Wayne movie—The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, 1962. This three-sheet poster is valued at $500 and hangs in the author’s office.

John Wayne Paradise Canyon PosterEven during the Great Depression, people found the money to attend a John Wayne movie. Paradise Canyon was released in 1935, and, today, this linen backed poster is valued at $12,000.

Angel and the Badman, 1946, starred Wayne as a gunman who wanted redemption—a role he would play in many westerns. This movie poster is valued at $600.

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