Well I’d like to say that I was persuaded to write about our own eBay sales by the overwhelming vote that I should. After all, it was 100% in favour. There on the other hand, there was only one vote. But as that voter also correctly worked the eBay seller ID and outed us in the comments, there’s not much point in being coy any more. So now you can all see the piles of slightly underwhelming posters that have piled up by accident over the years.
But in a way it’s a relief. Not because I’m desperate to publicise them, but because there are one or two which I’d have definitely mentioned on here had someone else been selling them. Like this LMS/LNER poster for example.
It’s a rum ‘un. It would be quite unusual just for being a photographic railway poster produced before the Second World War (the NMSI dates it to 193o, but as the book was published in 1932 my guess would be that’s the actual date). But it’s even odder because it’s not a simple railway poster; instead it’s promoting a book about Scotland. The idea being, I assume, that you would read the book, be seized by a desire to go immediately to Scotland and then book your tickets with the railway. Which is not unreasonable, but I’ve still never seen anything like this before. Anyone else?
It came, like so much else on eBay at the moment, from the last Morphets sale. In this case, it came from one of the very last lots of assorted odds and ends, and which also included the four Jock Kinneir typeface posters. So rather a treasure trove in the end. But we will not – and I can say this with some certainty – ever put this on the wall, so it will be much better off somewhere else.
The other posters worth your time are the black and white tourist posters
Not immediately prepossessing, I’ll admit. But that’s part of the reason why they’re interesting. The posters (there’s a few, but I’ll spare you the rest) are all in various shades of black and white, ranging from greenish to sepia, and are printed on some really quite poor paper.
It’s not exactly how you might imagine advertising inercontinental tourism to the Americans in the early 1950s (these posters originally came from the States, so that’s what I’m assuming they were over there doing).
But technicolour was out of reach for Britain after the war; this slightly shoddy monochrome was all the country could afford at the time. So these posters are another reminder of the hardships of the post-war period, when every ounce of the country’s production and economic muscle had to go on exports, as the debts of the war had to be repaid. I wonder whether must sometimes have felt harder than the war itself, like running a marathon and then discovering that you’ve got to walk home.
But that’s not the only reason to look at them. Because, elsewhere on eBay, this is also for sale.
Similarly tatty, but if anything a slightly more challenging image of docks rather than historic castles (I wonder whether any Americans did come over to visit the Lancashire Docks as a result of this poster campaign; I am inclined to suspect not). But this seller has priced his at £49.99, ours started at just 99p.
So who’s right? What’s this poster really worth? Normally I’m in favour of starting with a low opening price on eBay, on the basis that if you’ve described it and photographed it well, a good poster will find its level. But I have to say that a sale in the last few weeks (about which I will blog later this week) has made me wonder whether that’s always true.
It still works for posters like an Eckersley or a Games, where people are searching for those designers and their works. I think that’s probably true of railway posters too. But with less well-known types like these, where there aren’t any obvious keywords that will be searched on, then what do you do? In our case, put them on at 99p because we want to get rid of them – but also put them on with some posters that will be found in searches so that poster collectors might actually see them. And a couple of these have now gone up to £5 already, so they do have some value. But will they ever be worth £50? Perhaps to one person and I’ve got it wrong. Or perhaps not; we will see.
And finally, when I was researching this in the LT Museum catalogue (it says it’s from 1967 and by Peter Roberson on the bottom so I don’t quite know what else I was expecting to find out)
I found this.
Isn’t that fantastic? Does anyone have one going spare? I promise I’ll pay more than 99p for it.
The whole “what’s it worth” debate doesn’t necessarily follow any traditional market economic logic –particularly when exposed to trading in places like Ebay. In an enthusiast/collectors market where personal taste/motivation drives a purchasing decision and the market segment is young and small, the item will be worth essentially what the highest bidder will pay or not pay and happens to spot. It also means under these conditions you can pick up some grand items for next to nothing from time to time, that’s part of the fun….
However, following the Morphets sale last year I suspect the market is changing. In my view sellers and buyers will increasingly be looking for and charging a premium for post war posters with known names attached, this will drive the market and the price. They will also be trying to establish a guaranteed return on investment for any item they wish to sell, regardless of ”quality” – e.g. the £49.99 minimum poster you mention, supply is not infinite… “Bargains” I fear will be increasingly difficult to find.
Your Hillman poster is from 1938. The same design was used to advertise Humber recommending Double Shell and Sunbeam-Talbot recommending Shell. The lay figure is indeed based on the one designed by McKnight Kauffer (his design can be seen on the conical oil can in your poster) – but obviously the poster is not by him.
He used the lay figure extensively on black and white press ads for Shell and it did feature on his 1936 series of Shell posters – ‘Ford Approves Triple Shell’ + Austin, Morris, Standard and even Rolls Royce recommending Shell
Regarding ones ebay seller ID – I was once standing beside someone at an Ephemera Society Fair when I overheard him tell the stallholder some of the items he had sold on ebay. I blurted out “you must be xxxxx – I bought some of those items”
Good luck with your ebay sales
The pricing question is an interesting one, isn’t it. I think you’re right, but I can also trace a fall in some poster prices at Christies over the last ten years (for the kind of stuff that tends to be featured on here) and my perception is also that prices are dropping a bit at Onslows too. Up until now I’ve put this down to eBay and online auctions flattening out the market a bit, but that may not be the case. eBay prices are definitely on the up though. But I have a large book about the psychology of pricing as my bedtime reading at the moment, so I may well have some more thoughts when I’ve come to the end of that. And I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts too.
Dr G – thank you for the info, that’s really good. In fact some of the posters have already gone to known commenters here!