- What about copyrights?
- Can I use the images on this site for my presentation/course/publication?
- Can I order reprints?
- I need high resolution scans for my book/article/other publication. Where can I get them?
- Can these posters be loaned for exhibitions?
- Are these posters for sale?
- Where can I buy these posters?
- How do I know if the posters I buy are real?
- How expensive are these posters?
- I have bought posters. Are they real? How much are they worth? What are they about?
- Are there more Chinese poster sites online?
- What happened to Stefan Landsberger's Chinese Propaganda Poster Pages?
What about copyrights?
We do not own the copyrights over the images, and we do not mediate in copyright questions. 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.
For your information, here are our thoughts on the issue:
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 images from our site for non-commercial, private, educational, or scholarly/scientific purposes. However, we like to hear where our images end up in. So please send us an email with your request - info AT chineseposters.net.
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, Instagram or Facebook posts, coffee mugs, T-shirts, CD-booklets, bed covers, you name it), the following conditions apply:
1. The image should be credited as being part of the IISH collection, the Stefan R. Landsberger collection or the Private Collection. Example credits:
BG C15/748 (chineseposters.net, IISH collection)
BG E37/49 (chineseposters.net, Landsberger collection)
PC-195a-s-013 (chineseposters.net, Private collection)
2. When and wherever possible, a link should be provided to the chineseposters.net website;
3. In the case of printed publication, please send a copy to us at the address below:
Marien van der Heijden
PO Box 2169
NL-1000 CD Amsterdam
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 individual 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.
I need high resolution scans for my book/article/other publication. Where can I get them?
To order high resolution images of posters featured on this website, you have to turn to the International Institute of Social History.
For posters from the IISH and Landsberger collection, scans can be ordered directly in the IISH catalog (https://search.iisg.amsterdam). Posters can be found easily using the call number (eg. BG C15/748 or BG E37/49).
For posters from the "Private collection", send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org mentioning the call number(s) (eg. PC-1958-013 or PC-1971-004).
Please note that hi-res scans are not produced free of charge! See https://iisg.amsterdam/en/collections/rates for an overview of the prices. More information is available at https://iisg.amsterdam/en/collections/using.
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 https://iisg.amsterdam/en/collections/using/borrowing-iish-documents; enquiries can be sent to the IISH by email - ask AT iisg.nl.
Are these posters for sale?
The posters on this website are not for sale! We are collectors, and interested in acquiring, or exchanging duplicates, but we are not poster dealers. There are, however, reprints - see above.
Where can I buy these posters?
There are many places on Internet where Chinese posters are offered for sale. But most posters available on www.ebay.com and the like are modern reprints. If you don't want a reprint, have a look at Maopost.com, The Ross Group, and the Chisholm Larsson Gallery. All of them offer posters, some also objects. Another source for posters and objects is The East is Red. Electronic versions of posters, suitable for print or web publishing, as well as high quality reprints, can be found at Chinaposters.com. ChinesePropaganda.com 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 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. Or they object to non-Chinese desiring to collect 'Chinese national heritage'. 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, 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 by Chris To. There's another online overview of fakes available at Maopost.com.
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 of a poster. Condition of the material often is not a real consideration. Expect to pay anywhere between 500-10,000 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 in the West ask up to US$ 5,000 for posters they have picked up in China for a fraction of that price. 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, 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 online?
Yes there are! First of all, the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, has an online exhibition called The Chairman Smiles, with posters from the IISH collection. All posters from the IISH and Landsberger collections are accessible through the catalog at https://search.iisg.amsterdam.
The collection of the University of Westminster, London, UK
The Jon Sigurdson Collection
The Oliver Laude Collection
Street posters, a very nice site by Rice University
A.E. Maia do Amaral's Woodblocks Collection
The James Flath nianhua collection
Republican public health posters
Zhang Hongtu's site (check the Mao's)
Chinese COVID-19 political propaganda poster collectio
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.