Posters are good for you

A brief update today on my wonderings about why some posters survive and others don’t.

I’ve heard back from the Guinness archive in Dublin.  And while Guinness never sold their posters, they were very much available to the general public.

Guinness first began advertising in 1929 and once the Company began advertising Guinness posters were produced in vast quantities and made available to both the general public and publicans. The Company very much encouraged members of the public to write into the company to obtain their copies of Guinness posters and as a result posters were produced in vast quantities throughout the decades.

Guinness christmas poster Gilroy 1958

They also sent over a useful factsheet about Guinness advertising.  I had no idea that Gilroy produced posters for them from 1934 (only five years after the company began advertising at all) until 1961.

John Gilroy Guinness resort poster 1961

This was his last poster for the company, in 1961.  The same year, they produced their first ever photographic poster.  These two facts may have something to do with each other.

So thanks to Deirdre and Eibhlin at the Guinness archive for the information, it’s very much appreciated.

Gilroy vintage Guinness poster 1952

In some ways, if they were giving the posters away for free, I’m surprised that there aren’t more of them kicking around now.

Although a quick trawl through the records made me realise, to my surprise, that Mr Crownfolio and I have owned ten Guinness posters at various points in time.  But we’ve ended up selling most of them.  I think this is mostly because they’re great posters but not quite our sort of thing, even this Lander from 1956.

Eric Lander Guinness poster 1956

And the ones that are, were just too big to put on the wall.

Abram Games 5 million Guinness poster

But we have kept a couple This is on the wall (in fact in the collection of animal posters that climb the stairs),

Guinness Seal Tom Eckersley poster 1956

because it’s one of my favourite posters ever, as well as being a reasonable size.  We also have this Raymond Tooby next to it,

Ramond Tooby Guinness toucan poster 1957

That wins mainly because the television aerial on the nest is such a brilliant 1957 detail.

But once again, all of these posters are here because the company involved distributed the posters to the public above and beyond the numbers they used for actual advertising.  It certainly seems that this is one of the key factors in numbers of posters surviving.

The exceptions to this may be World War Two and National Savings posters, which I left off the original post but which do survive in some numbers.  Perhaps people were aware, even at the time, of the historical significance of wartime posters and so kept them?  Although that isn’t much of an explanation for National Savings posters – were these perhaps distributed to savings groups as well as being displayed?  Or is there another reason that I am missing?  Any ideas?

  • A lot of Advertising agencies used to print over-runs when they produced posters because they knew that the general public would write asking for a copy. I’ve worked in a few ad agencies that did this.

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