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, 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, by SR Badmin
As well as a set of twelve Shell Guides to the countryside by Edith and Rowland Hilder.
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.
Should you be interested, you can bid via the-saleroom.com if you don’t fancy the trek to Congleton.