When did you last see an auction?

So, spring is in the air and the auctions are springing up like dandelions on  the lawn.  Christies is tomorrow, as mentioned before, and in the meantime two more catalogues have popped up on the web, Onslows and Van Sabben, with auctions on the 18th May and 4th June respectively.

I’ll start with Onslows first, because it is a great soup of an auction and I don’t quite know what to think of it.  All of the usual subjects – cruises, railways, travel posters – are represented as you’d expect, but with very few jumping out at me demanding to be either bought or written about.  I quite like this Lander, partly because if the Isle of Man is in any way continental, I am an otter.

Eric Lander Isle of Man Vintage British Railways poster 1960
Eric Lander, 1960, est. £500-700

Our non-existent friend Ralph Mott is also represented with several posters, this being my favourite, mainly for the slower-moving world which it evokes.

Ralph Mott country railway lorry services vintage railway poster
Ralph Mott, n.d., est. £150-200

There are also pages – and I mean pages – of wartime propaganda posters from both world wars.  Unfortunately, most of them are visual proof of the fact that most wartime posters were not masterpieces of design.  And I can’t even find a single one which I really love, this is about as good as they get.

Save Bread and you save lives vintage WW2 propaganda poser
Anonymous, est. £100-150

But not all is doom and gloom if you wander through the catalogue.  This Rex Whistler is battered, but still lovely through the creasing and tape.

Rex Whistler vintage shell poster Aylesbury 1930
Rex Whistler, 1930, est. £300-400.

Even better (if you’re me, at least) are a selection of post-war London Transport posters.  Probably the most noteworthy is this Bawden.

Edward Bawden vintage London transport poster 1936
Edward Bawden, 1936, est. £300-400

But there are other treasures too.

Abram Games, London, vintage London Transport poster, 1964
Abram Games, 1964, est. £200-300

Enid Marx Science Museum vintage London Transport poster 1964
Enid Marx, 1964, est. £150-200

Peter Robeson, Velasquez, vintage London Transport poster 1956
Peter Robeson, 1956, est. £100-150.

I’ve always loved that last Robeson poster.  Although it’s called ‘When did you last see your Velasquez?’ it’s much more about being contemporary than art historical; in fact it’s like the essence of the mid-1950s distilled onto a single poster.  All of which means that, in my book at least, it’s a bit of a bargain at that estimate.  But I’m likely to be wrong on that one.

There’s quite a lot of overlap between Onslows and Van Sabben too.  Obviously they’ve both got a lot of foreign posters of various sorts, some of which are rather good.

Colin Air France India vintage poster 1963
Jean Colin, 1963, est. £250-300

Onslows vintage Swedish exhibition poster
Anonymous, est. £150-200

These are both from Onslows, but as you can imagine, Van Sabben has literally hundreds more.


Max Velthuys, est. €80

More surprising is the other thing they have in common, which is a selection of large format GPO posters by interesting artists.  These two are in the Onslows sale:

Hans Schleger vintage GPO poster 1942
Hans Schleger, 1942, est. £200-300

Manfred Reiss, vintage GPO Poster, exports, 1948
Manfred Reiss, 1948, ext. £200-250

While these three are from Van Sabben.

Beaumount vintage GPO poster WW2
Beaumont, 1960 (?), est. €160

Rothholz, vintage GPO poster, 1948
Rothholz, 1948, est. €280

Reiss vintage GPO poster 1950
Reiss, 1950, est €150

If only I were a GPO museum, then I’d go on a spending spree, as they’re probably my favourite things on offer.  But there are a couple of other interesting items in Van Sabben too, like this pair of Reginald Mount posters.

Reginald Mount vintage waste paper salvage poster 1950
Reginald Mount, 1950, est. €150

REginald Mount vintage housewife salvage poster 1950
Reginald Mount, 1950, est. €180

The design of the latter one is almost good enough for me to overlook the fact that I am being addressed as Housewife again.  I’m not sure if Mrs Housewife is better or worse.

Other than that, it’s the usual suspects here: a few war posters, a couple of railway posters, and, of course, a BOAC poster.

Abram Games vintage BOAC poster 1953
Abram Games, 1953, est. £500

I think they’re compulsory these days.

But for a small selection of posters (perhaps only 30 out of over a thousand) Van Sabben have managed to pull a few interesting ones out of the hat once again.  Still don’t know if I’m actually going to buy anything though…

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