This new addition to my collection had me sweating for 3 weeks as I followed it on eBay and then subsequently purchased it and awaited delivery. The question, as always, was, “Is it real?! Is it a repro?!” Since I don’t buy repros and do tons of research on paper goods before pulling the trigger. This one was particularly tricky.
Any original Geo Ham poster will sell for between $700 and $2500, depending on the image. This image traditionally is found as a blank image with no text. It was designed in the 1930’s for the Motocycle Club de France (French Motorcycle Club). Sometime in the 50’s it was used with text by the French Motorcycle Club to boost membership. There are rarely versions of the 1950’s poster that are original. It has been reproduced and the copies are available on eBay regularly and often peddled as originals. I hooked on to this one on eBay France and was intrigued by the photo and description in French stating that it was an “old” poster that had edge wear on the yellowed paper. The opening bid was 100Euro and after a day or so I hit it with a minimum bid to avoid having the seller take it down. I figured I would snipe it at the end when I saw if it was getting any action. I thought it might be real but knew if it was that it would get hit and bid up during its run. With 2 days to go it still had no additional bids. I began to panic, thinking that I was going to take a 100Euro bath on a fake. To encourage someone to outbid me I posted the link on Pinterest and told people to jump on it. With one day to go someone outbid me. It was at 101Euro. I obsessed over the listing now that someone bid, not knowing if they knew more than I did and knew it was real. It forced me into high gear on my research. I contacted my dealer contacts and asked if anyone had info on the fakes that might confirm this was real. Nobody had owned a copy of the poster with the words. I went back to the eBay listing and started looking at every detail of the photo and comparing it to the photos of the repros I had. The colors looked correct and the edge wear in the photo looked correct from the low quality photo they had posted. I decided that I would put in a maximum bid that wouldn’t get me a divorce and chalk it up to education if I won it and it was a reproduction. I figured that the snipers would outbid me anyway if they did their homework and felt the same way I did about its authenticity. I guessed I would either win a fake, or it would go for somewhere in the $300 – $500 range. Bam! The auction went down and I won it for 25 cents less than my max. Now I was in complete panic that nobody had bid the $500 and went back to cussing myself for bidding on an uncertain commodity. Nothing to do but wait for the mail. 2 weeks later a small tube arrived and I actually waited a whole day before opening it because I was pissed at myself. When I cracked the seal and looked down the barrel of the tube my spirits were lifted. The paper looked correct and the edge wear was old. Even if it was a repro it was a vintage repro, which I could possibly live with. I slid it out and unrolled it to discover that the silkscreen was correct and the lettering had been screened on top of the original image, instead of embedded as it would have been on a fake. It was real! Sometimes the repro market can work to your advantage by scaring off the competition. I only say that because I have made some mistakes over my years of collecting posters and rarely take the chance anymore. My advice is still to buy from a reputable dealer and do your homework, unless you don’t care if it isn’t real and you paid too much…
October 28th, 2015 at 4:22 am
Hi, I am in a similar situation re Geo Ham Moto sport poster (re your post 21 dec 2012). Were you able to find any other info on this poster? Do you think it was an original/original reprint that was re-used for this particular event which would explain the additional writing? Any thoughts/comments welcome
Regards Tim Bloomfield
October 28th, 2015 at 1:52 pm
There are two versions of the original poster. One without any writing and one with the text for the Motocycle Club de France. They blank stock poster was designed for events, where they would print specific information about the event. The other was to advertise the club. There is considerable debate as to whether there have been reprints on older paper, but that debate exists for many European posters of all ages. If you have found this poster and the dimensions are correct (11.25″x15.75″ approx) it is likely “vintage”. If you have the opportunity to look at the paper, and can verify that it has some age to it, or can look at the back to see that the screened ink has bled through, then you are in good shape. If you cannot see the paper or the back then you must be careful. There are a lot of people reproducing this on eBay and it will always be on white paper, not aged. The paper was originally quite thin and a bit brittle around the edges. The original will always have the name of the printer in the lower margin (Max. Courteau Imp. Paris & Modele Depose). Some of the reprints do not have this. Once and a while you will find an original mounted on linen. Usually these are from a reputable dealer and are more expensive because of the mounting process. As always, if the price is too good to be true than it is not true. If you are lucky you will find them in the $100 – $200 range. Sometimes they command much more, up to $500. I hope all this helps.
November 29th, 2015 at 4:45 am
that’s very kind of you to share your knowledge. I really appreciate it. As it turns out I didn’t win the auction and get the piece but it’s good to knwo for future reference. Thanks once again