This poster would be worthy of your attention for its headline alone, because Hamster Joy is indeed how it is being advertised on eBay.
I think the caption really means something like saving is fun, but Hamster Joy is much more pleasing. If that tickles your fancy, you will also be pleased to know that it comes “without linen on backside’. Although you may be less chuffed to discover that they want about £160 for it.
But I’m not just posting it for the pleasures of the mangled translation. This poster is just the tip of an iceberg, an iceberg so huge that it is forcing me to go off our usual paths and into the strange territory of the European poster. In fact Hamster Joy is just one of almost 1,500 posters being sold out of Switzerland by PosterConnection. Want to see a few more?
They’re all being sold as Buy It Now, in dollars, hence the slightly odd pricing. The listings suggest that they will accept Best Offers too; a few seem to have been sold this way, although our offer on this Karo – the only British poster in there – was rejected. But then it was a bit cheeky.
Karo, 1960, £133
I’m guessing that’s a coach poster – any thoughts, anyone?
What will be obvious already is that this an incredible set of posters being sold here. I do know of a couple of huge collections in Switzerland, one of which has been up for sale as a whole for some time (details here in case you have a yen for Swiss posters and a ton of cash to dispose of). But the illustrations of that one seem earlier, and I can’t match up a single image between them – this is a much more contemporary and modernist collection.
Which then suggests that it’s the other big Swiss poster collection (who have bought some things from us in the past) just disposing, as we did, of some unwanted flotsam and jetsam. In which case I’d very much like to see what they’re keeping.
What’s on sale covers pretty much every poster subject you can imagine, so what I post on here can never be more than a partial survey. Please do go and look for yourself, because it’s an education for the eye. For example, there are several Brussels Expo posters that I haven’t seen before.
In fact the collection as a whole is quite strong on posters for Expos and trade fairs in general.
But looking at the collection also makes me consider some of the differences between European and British posters at this time. To start with, Johnny Foreigner is much better at doing animals than we were (the Gilroy Guinness ads being perhaps an honourable exception). Some of these, like Donald Brun’s Zwicky cat, are classics.
But there are plenty more where that came from.
Piatti, 1958, £72
On a more serious note, one thing that I do envy about European posters is that so much more of their commercial work has survived. Our walls are rather dominated by railway and London Transport , and I would love to have some posters for food and other household stuffs up there too. But tbey just don’t survive in the UK. If someone can explain to me why they do survive in Europe (could you write to Zwicky or Knorr and ask for a poster?), I would, genuinely like to know.
Given that our household would grind to a halt without coffee, I’d particularly like something along these lines.
On a slightly different tack, these two posters are a delight simply because they remind me of the days when the telephone was like a talking internet. Well nearly. These are for news and weather, but Mr Crownfolio can remember dialing up to hear the chart rundown back in the day.
There are so many posters, and so many great ones there, that I could go on almost indefinitely. But I won’t; instead just two final observations.
The first is that an exhibition about House Cats sounds like a very good idea, and I would like to see one please.
The second is that, as the observant amongst you may have noticed, I really like the work of Celestine Piatti a great deal. I kept finding myself pulling them out from the listings without, most of the time, realising they were by him. Really, they are excellent.
Furthermore, he must be a great man, because he has written a book about Happy Owls. It’s a good job that he’s not British, and so outside our self-imposed guidelines, otherwise I think a very expensive spending spree would be coming on.