For Your Eyes Only: A Cache of Classic Bond Posters Is Up for Grabs

Help these posters Live To See Another Day by buying them at auction.

August 30, 2018 5:00 am
The British "Thunderball" poster from 1965 by Robert E. McGinnis (Sotheby's)
The British "Thunderball" poster from 1965 by Robert E. McGinnis (Sotheby's)

If you were to use an industrial laser to cut the essence of James Bond down to three crucial components, they’d have to be guns, girls, and martinis made with three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, and a half measure of Kina Lillet. (Due respect to Aston Martin and the gadget-filled DB5 … they’d be the fourth.)

Those essential 007 elements were vital in creating Bond the character, but they also were incredibly necessary for crafting Bond the film poster.

At least that seems incredibly evident when examing the 15-piece collection of Bond movie posters and concept art that RM Sotheby’s has brought to the block at its ongoing Original Film Posters Online auction.

As with every feature in a gadget Q gave Bond, everything in the posters was added for a specific reason. Be it tilting the seven in 007 so it could double as the handle of a gun in the poster for Dr. No or blurring Bond’s face on the poster of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to obscure the face of the new actor (George Lazenby) who would be playing the super spy in the new film, the elements of the posters all fulfill a specific purpose.

To make sure those elements were able to shine through and add to, not distract from the guns, Bond girls and 007 himself, renowned artists from around the world were contracted to paint the posters, in some cases on a recurring basis.

The themes they were able to depict – glamour, travel, adventure, sex (duh) – sell the franchise as well as the character, which is perhaps one of the reasons 007 has been able to endure for more than 55 years.

“As Bond is the longest-running film franchise, everybody has grown up with 007 and has their favorite film,” Nicolette Tomkinson, a poster expert from Tomkinson Churcher Art Consultants, said in a release from Sotheby’s. “The posters play an important part in illustrating how Bond has changed since the release of Dr. No in 1962. The unique combination of cultural significance and visual appeal gives the poster a special place in the eye of a collector.”

Here’s a view to some killer posters.

Dr. No

A “Dr. No” poster from 1962 drawn by David Chasman. (Sotheby’s)
The Spanish version of the “Dr. No” poster from 1962 by Macario Gomez. (Sotheby’s)
An alternative “Dr. No” poster from 1962. (Sotheby’s)

From Russia With Love

The “From Russia With Love” poster from 1963.


The “Goldfinger” poster from 1964. (Sotheby’s)


The British “Thunderball” poster from 1965 by Robert E. McGinnis (Sotheby’s)
The American “Thunderball” poster from 1965 by Robert E. McGinnis and Frank McCarthy. (Sotheby’s)

You Only Live Twice

Artwork for the French “You Only Live Twice” poster from 1967 by Joseph Benari. (Sotheby’s)
The British “You Only Live Twice” poster from 1967 by Frank McCarthy. (Sotheby’s)
The American “You Only Live Twice” poster from 1967 by Frank McCarthy. (Sotheby’s)

Casino Royale

The “Casino Royale” poster from 1967 by Robert E. McGinnis. (Sotheby’s)

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

The British “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” poster from 1969 by Robert E. McGinnis. (Sotheby’s)
The American “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” poster from 1969. (Sotheby’s)
Concept photos from 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” (Sotheby’s)

For more information or to place a bid before the auction closes on September 5, head over to RM Sotheby’s website. (The Bond art is on the fifth page of auction lots.)

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