It’s the last stage of the giant Daphne Padden archive-fest on Quad Royal. Most of the posters I’m putting up today are for coach companies and so have at least been seen before. In fact well over half of these are on sale at Morphets tomorrow, so if you take a fancy to any of them, you can probably have one, although I can’t promise at what price.
I know I should stop making fun of these poor northerners and their low prices, but this one is estimated at £50-100. The rabbits below get the same estimate, and you get another spring poster to boot. If only.
But I haven’t just come here to mutter about Morphets once more, there are a couple of things worth saying about these posters.
One is just what a difference an archive makes. Daphne Padden’s posters are beginning, over the last few years, to surface into the general design consciousness. But I do wonder whether she would have been better known if she’d worked for British Railways or London Transport as well.
Royston Cooper has had a similar, if less dramatic problem. Both he and Padden designed a whole series of really great posters for the coach companies. But because the coach companies both had a more chequered history, and were never really considered as a national asset in the same way anything which ran on rails, the nuts, bolts and printed matter of their past didn’t end up being preserved.
A very brief summary of what happened in the world of coaches is that the many small companies like Royal Blue which served the different parts of the UK, were gradually bought up and amalgamated into larger groups. In 1947 – after a war in which few coaches ran – the whole industry was nationalised, eventually becoming National Express. This was then split up and de-nationalised between 1983 and 1987. And somewhere in all of that, we stopped caring about coaches and, most likely, a whole pile of history was thrown out into a skip.
With the result that we now don’t really know anything about coach posters at all, never mind having an archive or even dates for them. Well, except for a few like the one below.
Which is an enormous shame as there are some wonderful posters made for the coach companies which have almost disappeared into oblivion. And is why I keep banging on about them here, trying to give them some kind of visibility on the web.
My other thought is a bit more positive though, which is that her particular style of design is now becoming interesting (possibly even fashionable) for a wider audience of designers and, possibly, collectors. Take a look at the Fears and Kahn website, which I’ve been meaning to mention for a while. They’ve put together, for selling, a rather distinctive set of posters, some from coach companies, but very much in this particular idiom. I’m hoping that this will be the start of more recognition for designers like Padden and Royston Cooper.
And finally, a few odd notes on some individual items. I am guessing that this is some kind of early artist’s proof for her famous Royal Blue poster.
What’s odd, is that it’s not a print with just one colour missing – the text in the final poster is in the same dark blue as his hat and the lighthouse.
Even odder, is that his smile is missing in the proof too. I’m glad he cheered up.
And finally, I just like these. I think they should be on t-shirts or something.
Do we have any takers for Quad Royal branded goods?