Blue Sky Thinking

I could really do with a good auction now.  Even though we don’t have the wall space for anything else and probably would end up buying next to nothing, I’d still enjoy the excitement.  So, after Swann Galleries emailed to say that they had a wonderful set of London Transport posters in their forthcoming auctions, I did get my hopes up a bit.

And it is true, they do have some great and rare London Transport posters coming up.  It’s just that they are all too early for my taste (and therefore also too expensive for my means as well).

Montague Black, 2026 vintage London transport poster 1926

Jean Dupas fetches high prices, but it’s all a bit too much out of the Art Deco style manual for me.

Jean Dupas Transport of joy Vintage London Transport poster 1933
Jean Dupas, 1933, est. $2,000-3,000

Quite a few of them are tram posters too, and for some reason I’ve never really fallen in love with a tram poster, not even one for a Pullman tram.

Shop early by tram vintage travel poster Blair 1929
Rene Blair, 1929, $800-1,200

Interestingly, these are a different format to the mainstream of London Transport posters – double crown rather than double royal – and were presumable displayed somewhere else.  But where?  On trams, or on their stops? And why wee they different?  Can anyone enlighten me?

mcKnight Kauffer vintage London Transport theatre poster 1930
McKnight Kauffer, 1930, est. $800-1,200

The McKnight Kauffer above is a classic, but not even that can tempt me.  Only this single Dora Batty has a small attraction for the Crownfolio wallet.

Dora Batty from the country to the heart of town vintage london transport poster 1925
Dora Batty, 1925, est. $1,200-1,800

Mainly because I would like to think of myself as dashing chic-ly into London every so often.  Of course it doesn’t happen, I don’t look like that and even if I did try it would take a whole lot longer than half an hour.  Where can she live that is so bucolic and yet so close? Aylesbury? Guildford? We may never know.

There are plenty more posters along these lines if that’s what you want, but little else to report, apart from one nice David Klein at an even higher price than before.

David Klein New York vintage airline poster TWA 1960

Along with these two airline posters, from the Czech Republic and Australia respectively.

Schlosser CZECHOSLOVAK AIRLINES / IT'S O.K. WITH CSA. Circa 1946. vintage travel poster
Schlosser, 1946, est. $800-1,200

RONALD CLAYTON SKATE (1913-1990) ANA / COVERS AUSTRALIA / COAST TO COAST. Circa 1955.  Vintage travel poster
Ronald Clayton Skate, 1955, est. $800-1,200

Why I find them interesting is that both remind me of the Lewitt Him and Abram Games airline designs of a similar period, and together they represent what seems to be an international visual language of air travel just after the war.  These infinite blue skies are the very newest thing, am image of  how the airlines have made the whole world available to you, at least if you have enough money.

Abram Games BOAC poster 1949
Abram Games, 1949

It’s easy to forget just how exciting and how modern air travel would have been then.  Very few people would ever have seen such open skies before, so of course they became a symbol of the glamour and speed that the new airlines could provide.

Lewitt Him, vintage airline travel poster 1948 Poster Connection
Lewitt Him, 1949

Vintage Lewitt Him BOAC poster 1948
Lewitt Him, 1949.

Except there may be a bit more to it than that.  Because some people had seen those skies before, and a few more people had seen the trails that aircraft could leave too.  The ANA poster at the top reminds me very much of Paul Nash’s painting, The Battle of Britain.

Paul Nash Battle of Britain 1944 IWM good art I thank you

So while these blue skies are on one hand a simple representation of brand new freedoms, I think there is also a bit more meaning within them.  These posters are rewriting some of the most potent imagery of the war, turning it from terrifying to exciting.  There is no need to fear the trails that these aircraft leave, or the wide blue skies in which they fly, not any more.

Battle of the Bulge 1944 vapour trails
Battle of the Bulge, 1944

So these posters are not only being modern, they are also reminding the viewer that this new world has been built out of the conflict that came before.  Swords are forged into ploughshares and the war in the air has brought us intercontinental jets.

Strube vintage world war two RAF poster

 

Henrion BOAC vintage travel poster 1947 Swann
Henrion, 1947.

We might find it hard to make the connection now, but at the time the link must have been very obvious.

Vapour trails from Battle of Britain 1940
Battle of Britain, 1940

Which means that the reassurance and the rewriting must have been very necessary too.

The Few vintage World War Two propaganda poster

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6 Comments

  1. Posted November 7, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    I sooooo love reading this blog! Thank you for the continued visual treats QR!

  2. crownfolio
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the kind comments! It’s lovely to hear that.

  3. Jed Bartlet
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Less a post, more a thoughtful and perceptive essay.

  4. crownfolio
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Thank you too.

  5. MikeA
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    The reason that the ‘LT” tramways posters are different format are that they were mostly issued by the municipal London County Council Tramways who were merged into London Transport (along with the Underground Group who formed the dominant part of the new organisation) in 1933. Tramways posters – often illustrated or designed by students at the LCC’s Central School of Art – were intended for use in frames at tram shelters and stops – they came in the narrow format for frames, and a four-sheet style (sometimes with the same artwork). The LCCT also used similar sketches and illustrations on their monthly map covers.
    Pullman was a bit cheeky – faced with increased competition from ‘plush’ buses in the 1920s, the LCC decided to tart their trams up, and with refurbished seating and lighting they called them ‘Pullman’ cars to try and pick up on the cachet of the luxurious railway carriages! I’m surprised the Pullman Company didn’t moan!

  6. crownfolio
    Posted November 17, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Brilliant, thank you. I was hoping that someone who knew would come along. So were the tram posters still produced after 1933 or did they wither away? I can’t recollect seeing many later than that – perhaps I will have to go and look it up.

    The Pullman tram thing is v amusing, and proves that there is nothing new in the world of marketing hype too.

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