Vintage Sports Posters for sale
 Sports Illustrated Poster History​
History
Sports posters have been produced since the 1950's by publications centered around sports and liesure.  The commercialization of Sports Posters was established by Sports Illustrated in 1968 with the release of an MLB and NFL set.  This was the first time that posters were produced as a stand-alone business venture and ushered in the age of the sports poster.

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SI began to add other sports to their repertoire of posters including NHL Hockey and NBA Basketball in 1970.  The posters were all sized at 24” by 36” with no border (termed “full bleed”) and photos varying from action shots to standard poses.  SI posters were printed on a thick paper stock that was durable, but lacked the photo quality that we now have today.  The result was often grainy and at times, a poorly focused picture.  SI began to change the poster stock in approximately 1973.  They switched to a lighter, high gloss stock that increased the richness and clarity of the photo, but simultaneously weakened the durability.  SI then abruptly stopped producing these posters in 1974/75.  I haven’t ascertained why, I’d assume that they had somehow lost the rights due to the fact that a new company, Studio One, began producing the same exact style of poster in the same year, 1975.

Studio One, out of Holmes, PA, began to produce sports posters under the same name.  They picked up on the new SI style and began running advertisements in the standard sports periodicals including Baseball/Football Digest, SI, TSN, etc.  But unlike SI, they were almost exclusively sold via mail order, thus making their product that much more scarce.  This glossy, full bleed style of poster continued until 1977-78 when Studio One launched a new design utilizing a plain, white border.  The white border poster became the standard design, superceding the full bleed style entirely.  They continued to produce this design exclusively until 1978-79, when inexplicably, SI re-entered the sports poster market with the exact same white bordered design and all new photos.

Soon SI re-established market dominance and reduced Studio One posters to a competitive “also ran” until finally, the Studio One sports poster brand ended in approximately 1984.   Conversely, SI posters began to penetrate sports stores, retail chains and even shoe giants like The Foot Locker, with large poster inventories and displays.  This, coupled with the large mail order business, SI became the standard.  They continued to produce the same white border style poster until 1987.  1988 ushered in a new style as well as a myriad of new competitors.  The white border style sports poster had endured for over 12 years with few changes or variations.