Creating identifiers for a film poster collection

Collecting film posters can be fun, but should the time come to organize it more efficiently by cataloging the posters, what is the best way to do it? It may be natural to use a regular set of consecutive numbers as identifiers, such as 1, 2, 3,… regardless of how many posters are in your collection. But some film posters, especially lobby cards, were manufactured in sets, usually in numbers of eight, which might make ordinary consecutive numbering a challenge. Additionally, lobby card sets often had a title card, followed by seven more colorful ones all the same size: 11” x 14”. Easily storable in a 11” x 14” Itoya achival-safe, acid-free portfolio, lobby cards can be easy to sort out and refer to when the time comes. Most importantly, what happens if the proud owner of a film poster collection decided to donate it to an official archive, such as a university or state archive? Having the posters catalogued in some manner can actually benefit the inheriting archive, especially if they have easy to follow identifiers.

So what exactly is an identifier? According to Dublin Core, which is a series of metadata designed for archival digital and physical collections, the definition of identifier is as follows: “An unambiguous reference to the resource within a given context.” For something as simple as a film poster, a series of letters and numbers can be used to create the identifier. Let’s take the following lobby card poster for the silent film starring Tom Tyler, “Tom’s Gang”, released in 1927.

The owner of this poster already has one other lobby card for “Tom’s Gang” in her collection. The root of the identifier is the following: TG00x, with the x being the actual number of the lobby card. So the first lobby card for “Tom’s Gang” in the collection is TG001. The above image is consequently TG002. Title lobby cards need not be numbered at #1 unless that happens to be the first acquired lobby card in your collection.

The same method of creating identifiers can also be used for one sheets (27” x 40”/27” x 41”), three sheets (41” x 81”), window cards (14” x 22”), any sized poster that might appear in the collection.