The cartel as it is called in Spanish or bullfight poster is an integral part of the fiesta, broadcasting the names of the bullfighters, the ranch they will face, as well as location, date and time. Invariably, each poster is adorned with some photo or art work to catch the eye even more. Be it Mexico, Portugal, Colombia, Peru or of course Spain, the poster will be there to be seen.
The poster also tends to be a desired item for tourists visiting Spain and for the avid followers of the bullfight as well. Some serious fans have built up massive collections, turning their homes into miniature museums. Older posters tend to be quite valuable, as do posters from days where someone was killed in the ring, though in the latter case one must beware of replicas.
A point may be proven via all the “authentic” posters from the day Manolete died in 1947, carrying the names of Gitanillo, Dominguin and the luckless Manolete. No duplicator has ever gotten it right, either in an effort to deceive some sucker or to just provide a copy for framing of perhaps the world’s most famous bullfight.
Few people realize the events of that fateful day in Linares in 1947. The corrida in which Manolete was fatally gored was part of a two afternoon event in correspondence with a fait. Thus, to save money, the original posters listed the line-up for both afternoons, not just one. Balana, the promoter, also operated a number of rings and presented bullfights for a number of town fairs throughout Spain,. This was just another routine festival for him, in spite of what writer have tried to make it and as such he had relatively few posters made.
If I, as a writer, had a dollar for every time some knowingly or unknowingly tried to sell a “real” poster from the day Manolete was gored to death on EBay you would not be reading this column, as I would be living the life of a millionaire on the Spanish coast
The same holds true for the poster from the day El Yiyo was killed in 1985.
Yiyo’s name did not even appear on the poster for what was his last great corrida, where he posthumously cut the ears off his final bull;. Man and beast killed each other, when the toreo sank a fatal sword, but took a horn through the heart in the process.
Yiyo had been brought in as a last section substitute for the ill Curro Romero who was originally on the card, had rushed to Colmenar to accept the contract and met his date with destiny.
Any poster carrying a lineup with his name on it for that date has it all wrong.
For the less particular, looking for a keepsake from Spain, posters are easy to come by. Many are sold right at the arena, carrying the names of the bulls and people appearing that day.
Other gift stores, especially in the major cities such as Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia, carry such posters.
They are not so hard to come by and usually inexpensive.
Another opportunity for finding posters would be the many flea markets in Spain and notably the El Rastro in Madrid.
For visitors to Spain who are also interested in simply viewing the art work, how the posters have changed somewhat over the decades and appreciating the same, there are ample places to look. All of Spain’s bullfighting museums and many bars or restaurants with a taurine theme are adorned with multiple posters from seasons gone by.
Madrid’s museum devoted to bullfighting offers many poster son display, as well as costumes, mounted bull heads and paintings.
The string of bars in the section of Madrid called “The Caves” also offers many places adorned with old or historic posters from the past.
From a personal standpoint, I recall a moment from many years ago when at the :Caves” where I tried to make it from one bar to the next, having one drink in each in the course of an evening. This ended up impossible, as I found with varied failed attempts and in one such venture I staggered into a restaurant, already drunk and was observing the oddly posters on the walls. Most were devoted to a retired (since deceased) matador named Felix Colomo.
“Is the owner in love with Felix Colomo?” I asked the head waiter.
“The owner IS Felix Colomo,” the waiter responded indignantly.
Colomo, by the way, also happened to be standing right behind me.
In any case, the bullfight poster tends to make a fine keepsake for anyone visiting Spain and for all practical purposes is easy to find.