Sale Number

It’s gone a bit quieter on eBay now, which is a bit of a relief, at least it is here at Crownfolio Towers because we’ve spent a bit too much recently.  Nonetheless, there are still a few things worth reporting.  Like this, which is one of the linen-backed London Transport posters I wrote about a while back.

Ebay Beath vintage London transport poster Winter Number 1936

It’s by Beath, it’s from 1936 and it is currently bid-free at £14.99.  Now I rather like these, as perhaps rather un-English examples of good typography.  But it would seem from the lack of other interest that I am perhaps alone in this.  Never mind, I still might get ours framed one day.

While in the States, an unusually early poster has turned up.

Emilio Tafani vintage London Transport poster Denham 1918

Dating from 1918, it’s by Emilio Tafani and is also mounted on linen, although a little battered.  And yes, I have seen the carpet.

Back in this country, the Honey Monster would like you to go skiing.

Vintage British Railways Skiing poster 1959 Studio Seven eBay

Not Studio Seven’s finest hour really.

I know nothing at all about these but I rather think I need to.

Motif Journal of visual arts from ebay I covet this

The listing is reasonably informative, and also has enough pictures to make me want them very badly.

Motif Journal of visual arts from ebay

Motif Journal of visual arts from ebay

Motif Journal of visual arts from ebay

But at £650 for the set, I can’t exactly justify it.  Does anyone know any more about the history or who the artists are though?  Particularly that Cooks for fruit illustration above.

There’s a bit more interest in an auction in Norfolk next week.  Only a bit though as several of the posters are Of Railway Interest, like this wartime morale-booster which has a very reasonable estimate of £100-120.

In war and Peace we serve vintage WW2 railway poster

Although I do find myself quite liking this pre-war design (also est £100-120).

Easter Travel 1930s LMS poster Keys auction

But the most interesting, to my mind at least, is this (no estimate given).

Xenia come to Britain vintage travel poster 1954

This is partly because it’s not a railway poster but produced by the British Travel and Tourism Authority, but also because it’s by Xenia, who I’ve never come across in any other context.  And it’s brilliantly mid-50s.  But we’ve got one already, so it’s all yours if you want it.



  • Motif was one (the last?) of a series of exciting journals published and beautifully printed by James Shand and his Shenval Press. So far as I know the first of these was Typography, which ran for eight numbers just before WWII. It was succeeded by Alphabet & Image after the war, which later became Image. All were edited by Robert Harling, an important and relatively-unknown figure in twentieth century graphics. There were several obituaries when he died in, I think, 2008.

    This is all from memory, and unchecked, but I think that Motif was edited by Ruari Maclean, who was also important. Amongst his many achievements were designing The Eagle comic, and translating Tschichold’s New Typography into English.

    A complete set of Motif is well worth having, and I might have been bidding against you if the price wasn’t so much more than I’d want to pay.

  • Thank you, that’s brilliant – even if it does then lead me off into even more things to research and collect… I now also know that the cover to Motif 9 (above) is by Edward Bawden.

  • As Phil Abel says – Motif is a cracker – and for some reason, less common than Typography (just a joy of a periodical), Alphabet & Image, Image and Alphabet that Shenval Press did. Perhaps interest was sliding away and sales lower which is why they’re ‘rarer’? They were also hardback (other Shenvals had been softback) and quite pricey – although at £1 1s 8d (£3 5s for 3 issues I suggest we all write to 58 Frith St, London W1 and ask for a subscription!!) We have a full run of all the other Shenval Press periodicals, gleaned over years, but only a couple of Motif, although we do have Motif 3 (September 1959) which has the excellent shop front article by John Griffiths. Other articles include Hans Schmoller on Herman Zapf, Eric de Mare on postcards and Reynolds Stone on an Alphabet. I’ll try and post some images on Flickr.

  • That John Griffiths article is an absolute joy isn’t it? We succumbed to the lure of Abebooks and vols 1 and 3 are now here. Do you (or anyone else) know more about John Griffiths? I can dig out one LT poster and a handful of excellent Penguin covers, but that is it. I may need to ask that question on a proper blog post in the next week or two…

    I am just blocking my ears to your tales of the other Shenval titles, at least until we’ve got a house with a library wing.

  • I seem to remember that no.13 is paperback and is certainly the most elusive, but looking at the photograph it may be that the last 4 are paperback

  • A little extra info on Tafani (not included in London Transport Museum poster bio details). He was of course Italian but came to London to work. During his formative he appears to have worked for Ernest Nister (26-28 St. Bride St) as the Underground posters from 1915 state that they are ‘designed and printed by Ernest Nister’ – although Tafani’s signature appears too. He later created his own chromolitho company – ELT Studios. After his death in 1963 his family donated his litho tools and the progressives for one of his lithos, etc, to the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication, University of Reading

  • Thank you everyone for all the additional info – and it’s well worth following the link above to Shelf Appeal’s post too, because her sleuthing has led her to the possibility that Xenia might have been John Cage’s wife. I am very much hoping that this is true.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.