Didn’t they do well?

Thirty thousand pounds.

HErbert Bayer vintage 1930 exhibition poster from Christies sale

For what is, in the end, just a piece of printed paper.

I know I’m a fine person to be saying anything of the sort, but it does seem a bit absurd.  Mind you, I’m possibly think that £20,000 for this Dupas is even more absurd, because I do quite like the Bayer.

Jean Dupas Hyde Park vintage London Transport poster 1930 from Christies

That had an estimate of £7,000-9,000, which gives you a pretty good index of how Christies Friday poster sale went.  Most of the lots I was watching went for way over their estimate, including the idiosyncratic Polunin which I blogged about a few weeks ago.

Vladimir Polunin Electricity supercedes St Christopher Vintage London Transport poster 1934 from Christies

Writing about it made me look at it carefully, and I decided I rather wanted it.  Perhaps for the low end of its £700-900 estimate though; definitely not so much that I was prepared to pay over £2,000.

So are there any conclusions to take from this wild flurry of spending?  In some ways (and despite the fact that we could afford nothing at all as a result) I’m quite pleased to see posters going for high prices again.  In the last few sales I’ve watched, things have been pushed to even reach their estimates.  Whether this was a result of the recession, or a sign that the poster collectors market had reached its peak was hard  to judge. Whatever the reason though, it wasn’t a problem this time round.  Of course this may just be a blip – the bidding madness engendered by a really good collection can’t be disregarded – so we shall have to see where the next few sales take us.

Severin vintage London transport poster 1938 from Christies
Mark Severin, 1938, fetched £4,000

Mr Crownfolio – who watched the whole thing go by on his computer as he worked – thought that the sale also marked an interesting change in taste.  For once the countryside scenes didn’t seem to be the ones fetching the high prices; instead the metropolitan posters were doing better.  So this little Austin Cooper bunny only fetched £250, well below its estimate.   (Now I am really surprised about this, although given my prediliction for posters of slightly fey animals, I may not be the best person to judge.)

Austin Cooper vintage London Transport poster bunny rabbit 1928

While T.S. Eliot on an overstuffed armchair below fetched £4,000 – when it had been estimated to go for less than the Cooper.

Frederick Charles Herrick, Lap of Luxury vintage London Transport poster 1925 from Christies

Mr Crownfolio suggested that perhaps this means that there is a new set of collectors coming into the market, urban professionals who like modernism and cityscapes rather than those – whoever they were – who wanted restful rural scenes.  It’s an interesting thought, and we shall see if the trend holds.

In other news, size isn’t everything.  This, which is by Percy Drake Brookshaw in his less lurid phase, doesn’t even measure 12″ x 20″ but went for £1,250.

Percy Drake Brookshaw footbal London Transport vintage poster 1928

I’d say the football connection might be driving the price up, but then this similarly-sized Charles Paine went for £3,500 too.

Charles Paine vintage London Transport boat race poster 1925 from Christies

I rather like the disclaimer, presumably to stop Oxonians complaining that Cambridge were in the lead.

While we’re here, I also failed to notice this rather good Norman Weaver in the tail end of the lots.  It’s more stylised than most of his work and rather pleasing on the eye.

Norman Weaver BOAC poster 1950s

It went for £1,000 – over estimate once more.

Which leads me to my main conclusion for the day.  Lots of people have way more money than we do to spend on posters.  Any other thoughts, anyone?

  • I too witnessed the fever at Christies and with my hard earned pennies bagged an over-priced HerryPerry that I had set my eyes upon. Featuring both my local pub and other local landmarks I was extremely happy with my purchase despite having to sell one of my children as a result…Flash forward a week to Bainbridge’s auction house in Ruislip where they hold a monthly house clearance auction (yes, the one where the vase went for squillions)….and there before my eyes were 6 lots of three WW2 posters including works by Lewitt Him, Batemans and Nicholson…..I bid and bought the lot – no opposition and found myself with 18 posters for less than the price of my Perry…In my own little poster heaven I went to pay but was approached by “a dealer” who had missed the bidding but offered me for the Lewitt-Him a price in excess of the whole lot. I considered but declined.
    The point of the story is that you can still find great stuff at local auctions all over the country at good prices, you just need a bit of luck – top auction houses will always represent the top of the market but there’s plenty out there for us common folk too – happy hunting

  • Blimey, that is quite a coup – I am very impressed. Just selling a few of those should pay for the Herry Perry. You may even be able to get the child back. The Lewitt Him, if it is the one I’m thinking of, is great. And not one you see about very much either.

    But yes, I agree, the bargains are still out there. I think most of ours have come from eBay, but that’s mostly because Mr Crownfolio spends most of his day in front of the computer rather than yomping round auction houses. Does anyone else want to own up about their best bargain ever?

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