1962 and all that

Our subject today is this, which arrived in the post the other day.

International Poster Annual 1962 - cover

It’s a book which does what it says on the cover. Posters, lots of them.  And most of them from 1960 or 1961.  Can’t argue with that.

Unfortunately, the vast majority are reproduced in black and white.  The only artists to earn some colour coverage for Britain are Ronald Searle and Hans Unger.

Ronald Searle rum advertisement from IPA 1962

Unger coach poster IPA 1962

(The Unger is a poster for coach travel, but you’d be hard pressed to guess that as there is no text in the reproduction at all.)

Sadly, most of the rest of the pictures are not only monochrome, but also small; I’ve found better images where I can but, as you will see, this hasn’t always been possible..

Now I do like these kind of annuals, and not simply because they’re a lovely wallow in a golden past of poster design.  It can also be thought-provoking to see a cross-section through time like this.  For a start,  you get a good overview of where design was.

And 1962 turns out to have been quite an interesting time; the whimsy of the mid to late 1950s hadn’t quite departed yet, but the tide of sans-serif modernism was definitely on the rise.  Which means that the Ronald Searle illustration above was paired with these three Alan Fletcher designs on the opposite page.

Alan Fletcher designs in IPA 1962

And London Transport could win commendations for this,

Bartelt vintage london transport poster 1960

as well as this – which was, incidentally, produced by an agency, S.H. Benson Ltd, rather than a designer.

Vintage LT poster S W Benson agency, IPA 1962

The times they are indeed a-changin’.

But there’s another way in which this selection is worth our attention; the posters included are not simply an archaeological sample of posters past, they’re also a picture of what 1962 thought was important then.  Which isn’t always what you might expect now.

There are some things on which past and present do agree.  London Transport posters are good – these two are by Dorrit Dekk and G.B. Karo.

Dorrit Dekk london transport poster from ipa 1962

G B Karo vintage London Transport poster from IPA 1962

In total, over a fifth of the posters shown were designed for London Transport, which is an impressive proportion.  But just to prove that posterity (or archival survival) doesn’t always get it right, there are even more coach posters than there are LT exhibits (by one), including these two Royston Coopers.

Royston Cooper go shopping by bus

Royston Cooper Express coaches to London

The same is true of the designers: Abram Games, Hans Unger, FHK Henrion and Tom Eckersley are also all, unsurprisingly, feted.

Abram Games conducted coach tours London Transport poster 1962

Abram Games for London Transport

Please Pack Parcels Carefully Unger GPO poster

Hans Unger for GPO

But then there are a few designers included that might not be the first to spring into your mind today.  1962 really liked four of these coach posters by Christopher Hill.

Coach poster Christopher Hill from International Poster Annual 1962

Coach poster Christopher Hill from International Poster Annual 1962

His stuff doesn’t seem to come up much these days(apart from at Morphets, of course, what didn’t) but these two are both available at Fears and Kahn for the right kind of money.

I’ve never heard of Donald Smith before at all, but he has five posters in the book in all, including these three very delightful posters for the Post Office Savings Bank below.  (Where is the Post Office Savings Bank archive, does anyone know?)

Donald Smith Posters in IPA 1962

Donald Smith posters in ipa 1962

But most mysterious of all was Barrie Bates.  He had four posters included, and they’re all very striking.

Barrie Bates posters in ipa 1962

Barrie Bates from IPA 1962

So why had he not turned up elsewhere?  It transpires that there was a very good reason for this.  Because in 1962, he became someone else altogether.

Billy Apple artwork

When he came to the end of his graphics course at the Royal College of Art, Barrie Bates bleached his hair and eyebrows in order to become Billy Apple, conceptual and pop artist extraordinaire.

American Supermarket exhibition 1964

This is American Supermarket, the 1964 New York show, a landmark Pop Art exhibition.  With exhibits by, amongst others, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Tom Wesselmann, Jasper Johns and one Billy Apple.

Apple/Evans was working for Madison Avenue advertising agents at the same time, which rather pleases me, as he was eliding the difference between product and art even more than the exhibition might have suggested.  And it’s also good to know, given how good his 1962 work was, that he hadn’t given up on graphics altogether.

P.S.  You’ll be pleased to know that Billy Apple is still working as an artist in Auckland, New Zealand, and there is plenty more information about him and his work out there if you’re interested.

  • Can help you on the Post Office Savings Bank question…

    From http://postalheritage.org.uk/collections/archive/businesshistory/savingsbank/

    In 1969, the POSB ceased to be part of the Post Office. Instead it became a separate government department and was known as National Savings. However, the Bank’s link with the postal services continued as post offices continued to handle deposits and withdrawals over the counter.

    The small quantity of records that we hold about the POSB range in date from 1828 until 1975. We hold the records that the Bank did not take with it when it became a government department in 1969. They include acts and regulations, reports, publicity and publications, forms and notices. Other records of the POSB are held by The National Archives in Kew.

  • Thank you for that. So do you have just a selection of the posters, or all of them but they’re just not all digitised/catalogued yet? As well as the Donald Smith ones, there are also some 1960s Daphne Padden ones that we have a heap of that I couldn’t find in your lists.

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