Inside an unassuming storefront on Chambers street in Tribeca, a whole world of posters awaits. According to owner Philip Williams, his namesake shop boasts the largest collection of vintage posters in the world. It’s not hard to believe, judging by the piles of posters stacked on tables throughout the store, which takes up the entire block between Chambers Street and Warren Street. Posters decorate every inch of the walls and are rolled up on shelves too.
Philip Williams Posters has some very rare finds. The store has been around for over forty years, but many of the items are much older than that. Mr. Williams told us that he has prints dating back to the 1600s in his collection. We noticed posters from France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and other exotic locales. There are vintage ads for museum exhibits and cruise ships, old movie posters, pages from early 20th century art history books, and even issues of Vogue and Life Magazine.
The prices range from $15 movie posters to the thousands. Old magazines go for $20. You can get a vintage James Bond poster in Italian and posters from John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign and inauguration. There are plenty of old maps too.
Growing up, Mr. Williams lived on army bases in the Philippines, Europe and Alaska with his father, who was an army sergeant, and he saw posters decorating the streets. “In France, everyone did posters — Picasso, Matisse — and there wasn’t the distinction between high art and low art we have here,” he told the New York Times. Posters have always contributed to the visual landscape of major metropolises. Today they can serve as visual, tangible keepers of our cultural memory. And the best part is, Philip Williams posters make these relics accessible to all.
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