The Shell Guide to auctions

Not that long ago, I mentioned the Shell Educational posters in passing, with the intention of  saying more about them one of these days.

But I’ve been rather pre-empted by the appearance of a whole group of them at auction on Thursday.  (At first glance, I thought they were being sold by Alan Partridge Auctioneers, but sadly that isn’t the case).

Dorset Shell educational poster John Nash
Dorset, by John Nash

What’s on offer are four lots of the ‘County’ posters, each with five or six posters in each, all carrying an estimate of £60-100, and all photographed having a bit of a lie down.

Sussex Shell educational posters SR Badmin
Sussex, by SR Badmin

As well as a set of twelve Shell Guides to the countryside by Edith and Rowland Hilder.

Shell guide to August stuff by Hilders two

Now, with my collectors head on, Shell posters can be very variable.  They’re on gloss paper, which yellows and spots and then yellows some more.  Plus at top and bottom they have black metal hangers which rust at the first possible opportunity, and also means that you can’t really put them in a frame.  Having said all of that, a good one is still a lovely thing to have around the home (David Gentleman’s Ridgeway Path being my ornament of choice).  And of course, because they come in sets, they bring out the worst of my collecting impulses.

With my thinking about posters brain engaged, they are interesting, not least because I’ve never seen anything written about them.  They’re really a class apart, as almost all the artists who were commissioned are better known as illustrators rather than designers.; there’s more overlap between these posters and Ladybird books than there is with the rest of poster design.  But some of them are beautiful, some – mostly by Tristram Hillier who was a surrealist artist when not producing these – are weird and strange, plus they are jolly informational things to have hanging on the wall.  About which I will write properly another day.

Shell Educational poster notts david gentleman

Should you be interested, you can bid via if you don’t fancy the trek to Congleton.

  • Hi
    I recently acquired 29 Shellposters from the Lanes series, Months Series and a number from a general wildlife series egBird Eggs
    I wish to sell some but could you advise best means to sell?
    Many are in good condition, some have some minor edge damage or tears

  • Hi
    I have a lot of australian shell information posters,flora and fauna subjects plus marine. I believe they date from the mid 50s.
    I want to sell them,where is the best place to go?

  • Are you over here or in Australia? I’d be tempted to list them on eBay, making sure that buyers in Australia can see them. Failing that, if you are in the UK, the auctioneers above might be able to help, although I am not sure how much demand there would be over here.

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