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Frequently Asked Questions

Many of the e-mail requests we receive contain the same questions over and over again. The most frequent ones are presented - and answered - here. So, please have a look here first!



What about copyrights?

We do not own the copyrights over the images. It is the responsibility of the user to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing images from our collections.

The posters, as a form of political advertising, were intended to reach the largest possible audience. Although the designs of some of the posters are based on original art works (oil painting, watercolors, woodcuts, etc.), the reproductions (i.e., the posters) can hardly be called originals.

The designers/artists of the posters were employees of the art academies, museums, or publishers. During the high tide of socialism, it was seen as counterrevolutionary to exercise personal claims to the copyrights over the works. It would be safe to consider the academies, etc., as the copyright holders. Now, in our experience, these institutions do not exercise their copyrights for materials published in the period 1949-mid-1980s. With the Chinese adoption of the ISBN-system, all this has changed, of course.

Up until the mid-1980s, China was no signatory of any of the International Copyright Conventions. Quite some non-Chinese books seem to have been pirated in Chinese editions in those years. Seen from that perspective, we think China will find it hard to claim copyrights retro-actively.

Can I use the images on this site for my presentation/course/publication?

In principle, we see no problem in you using one (or more) of the images from our site for non-commercial, private, educational, or scholarly/scientific purposes. However, we always like to know where our images end up in. So please send us an with your request.

Moreover, when the materials are used for a publication (in whatever form, and this not only includes articles, books or PowerPoint presentations, but also documentaries, TV-commercials, MTV- or YouTube-/TuDou-clips, coffee mugs, T-shirts, CD-booklets, bed covers, you name it), the following conditions apply:
1. the image should be identified as being part of the IISH / Stefan R. Landsberger Collections;
2. when and wherever possible, a link should be provided to the chineseposters.net website;
3. two copies of the publication should be forwarded to us at one of the addresses below:

Marien van der Heijden
IISH
PO Box 2169
NL-1000 CD Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Prof. S.R. Landsberger
Sinological Institute
Leiden University
P.O. Box 9515
NL-2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands

I need high resolution scans for my book/article/other publication. Where can I get them?

To order high resolution images of posters from our collections, you have to turn to the International Institute of Social History. Information is available at http://socialhistory.org/en/services external link; enquiries can be sent to the IISH by . Please note that hi-res scans are not produced free of charge! See http://socialhistory.org/en/services/rates external link for an overview of the prices.

Can these posters be loaned for exhibitions?

Under certain conditions, posters shown on this website can be loaned for exhibitions. This service is provided through the IISH. Information on loans for exhibitions can be found at http://socialhistory.org/en/services external link; enquiries can be sent to the IISH by .

Are these posters for sale?

Chinese propaganda posters can be bought, but not from us! We are always interested in exchanging duplicates, but we are collectors, not poster dealers.
There are, however, reprints. You can order high quality reprints of all posters from the Landsberger collection and the anonymous private collection featured on this website at chinesepostershop.com. Just follow the link in the right sidebar of each poster page. Your orders are handled by chinesepostershop.com, NOT by us. A limited number of posters from the IISH collection can be ordered at vintageposter.nl. Your orders will help us to continue our work!

Where can I buy these posters?

If you don't want a reprint, have a look at Maopost.com external link, The Ross Group external link, the Chisholm Larsson Gallery external link and Zitantique external link. All of them offer posters, some also objects. Another source for posters and objects is The East is Red external link. Or try Chris To Kwok Ho's Culturegems external link. Electronic versions of posters, suitable for print or web publishing, as well as high quality reprints, can be found at Chinaposters.com external link. ChinesePropaganda.com external link has a selection of recently produced Cultural Revolution style posters for sale.

If you happen to be in China: there are still a lot of materials available in the public domain. Try the various open antique markets in urban areas. In Beijing, the Panjiayuan market external link on Saturdays and Sundays is a definite must.

How do I know if the posters I buy are real?

Often, you don't. Many Chinese are rather puzzled by our Westerners' interest in propaganda posters. They don't understand why we can drool over a rare Mao poster, while they'd rather see we buy one of those sweet realistic paintings of kittens with blue eyes. So let them. In the meantime, some try and make some money by reproducing the CultRev memorabilia (posters, statues, alarm clocks, etc.) that we are interested in. So let them.

Distinguishing fakes from real is an ability that can only be trained through hard practice, through looking at and manipulating a lot of posters, that's all we can say. And even then you can end up with a fake.... Moreover, you have to know your revolutionary Chinese history! After all, if you don't know what's on a poster, what and who's represented and how, it's harder to tell whether it's a copy or not.

The quality of the paper can often tell whether a poster is an original. Old posters generally are not printed on glossy, or blindingly white paper. That's rather obvious. An old original CANNOT be crisp. Old paper has a tired feel to it. Of course, new paper can be made to look old, and not all posters on old paper are true originals. But take a close look at the printing of the colors of the slogan on the poster. You'll see that often there's a yellowish halo around the red characters. A dead give-away for a fake/reprint. Smell is another indicator. Old posters should smell musty and rotting, with a tinge of camphor added. Again, these things can be faked, so we are back to our original point: training through endless practice. Of course, in order to find out about these things, you actually have to handle the poster(s) you want to buy, and that can be pretty impossible when you buy from, say, the Internet.

Aside from these formal aspects, it pays to take a close look at the image itself, too. For example: There's a poster being offered that, according to the information printed in the lower right hand corner, with numerals that we Westerners can read, was published in Peking in 1957. It shows soldiers in simple, unadorned CultRev-style military uniforms waving Little Red Books. But knowing your revolutionary history, you immediately identify this extremely cool-looking poster as a sorry fake. First of all, Mao's quotes were not compiled in 1957! Secondly, in 1957, soldiers did not wear simple uniforms without insignia of rank. These were only introduced in the mid-1960s.

In short, all we can say is: caveat emptor, that is, buyer beware!

For some pointers on how to distinguish fakes from real posters, including comparisons of real and fake posters that are on offer these days, take a look at the excellent overview external link by Chris To. There's another on-line overview of fakes available at Maopost.com external link.

How expensive are these posters?

There's no general guideline to that. The more you buy from the same person, the cheaper they tend to get. As a repeat customer, you become an old friend (lao pengyou 老朋友), often making for better prices. The process of pricing is difficult to fathom, and largely has to do with age and subject matter; Chris To provides an interesting method to assess the value external link of a poster. Condition of the material often is not a real consideration. Expect to pay anywhere between 25-10,000 RMB. Real rare ones (posters from the late 1940s, early 1950s, or rare Cultural revolution posters) can do up to 35,000 RMB or even more. Haggling is not only allowed, but called for.

Prices can get even higher. Some dealers ask up to US$ 5,000 for posters they have picked up in China for a mere 500 RMB. In the end, if you really want a poster, you pay the price...

I have bought posters. Are they real? How much are they worth? What are they about?

Sorry, generally we won't do appraisal. We are not an auctioning house, nor a dealer. Appraisal takes a lot of time too. We try to provide information on these web pages, to share our knowledge, and to point to other sources of information as well. We hope this will help you answering your questions yourself.

Are there more Chinese poster sites on-line?

Yes there are! First of all, the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, has an on-line exhibition called The Chairman Smiles external link, with posters from the IISH collection. All posters from the IISH and Landsberger collections are accessible through the catalog at http://search.socialhistory.org external link.

Other sites:
The collection of the University of Westminster, London, UK external link
The Jon Sigurdson Collection external link
The Oliver Laude Collection external link
Street posters external link, a very nice site by Rice University
Picturing Power external link, the exhibit that accompanied the publication of the book by Harriet Evans and Stephanie Hemelryk Donald
The Iris Wachs Woodblock exhibition external link
A.E. Maia do Amaral's Woodblocks Collection external link
The James Flath nianhua collection external link
Republican public health posters external link
Zhang Hongtu external link's site (check the Mao's)

For more, check our links page.

What happened to Stefan Landsberger's Chinese Propaganda Poster Pages?

All content from Stefan Landsberger's Chinese Propaganda Poster Pages has been transferred to this domain. From mid 2010, all pages on the original domain (http://www.iisg.nl/landsberger) are redirected to their equivalent on chineseposters.net. For more information, read our 2010 announcement.


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