Be prepared

Hurrah, an auction.  It’s about time we had a nice chunky set of British posters for sale, and it’s Bloomsbury Auctions who are obliging this time, on the 16th February.

Once again, there are incalculable quantities of airline posters.  Where do they all come from? I don’t remember them being in auctions a few years ago, and suddenly they are omnipresent.

Lewitt Him vintage airline poster AOA stratocruiser 1948
Lewitt Him, 1948, est £300-500

Lewitt Him AOA vintage airline poster 1950
Lewitt Him, 1950, est. £400-600

Well, there are at least six.  Some of them are indeed the usual Lewitt-Him AOA designs, but there are also other designers working for other airlines for a change.  This one is by Willy de Majo, who deserves a post all of his own one day.

Willy de Major vintage BOAC airline poster 1948 South America
Willy de Majo, 1948, est. £600-800

My favourite of them all is probably this Schleger design for BEA, which I don’t remember ever having seen before now.

Hans Schleger BEA poster hand
Hans Schleger, est. £700-900

It’s also reminded me that when I wrote about these wide blue skies in the airline posters the other day, I left something out, something I only realised last week when I was thinking about the afterlife of surrealism in graphic design.

vintage BOAC poster 1948 airline flags
Anon, 1948, est. £350-450

Because as well as being a remaking of wartime skies and vapour trails, these clear skies with their spotting of clouds are also the heavens across which surrealist visions drift.

BEverley Pick vintage airline poster BOAC
Beverley Pick, est £500-700

Certainly Schleger’s airline skies aren’t much different to his pre-war dreams; it’s just different kinds of flying I suppose.  Maybe it did seem unreal to get to places so quickly, I don’t know.

Laurence Fish, life is gay at whitley bay, vintage travel poster
Laurence Fish, est. £200-400

Apart from the airlines, I can also offer you the undervalued dose of kitsch above, along with a neat Lander and a John Burningham that every household should own.

RM Lander Isle of Man vintage travel poster
R M Lander, est, £ 150-250

John Burningham vintage London Transport poster boat 1964
John Burningham, 1964, est £100-150

Beyond that the posters that most appeal to me are, strangely enough, mostly pre-war.  Mind you, who could resist this.

Blackpool vintage LMS travel railway poster
Anon, est. £200-400

While the idea of ‘J B Priestley’s England’ is one which hasn’t really lasted, making this poster an interesting curio.

Austin Cooper vintage railway poster J B Priestley Good Companions
Austin Cooper, est. £150-250

These two, meanwhile, are just quaintly likeable.

D M Earnshaw vintage London transport poster 1938 party
D M Earnshaw, 1938, est. £100-150

Freda Lingstrom school picnics vintage poster 1930
Freda Lingstrom, 1930, est. £200-300

None of which, though, really adds up to much other than some posters which I enjoy but probably won’t buy, along with a couple of interestingly low valuations on one or two lots.  I shall be particularly interested to see what happens to the Burningham and Whitley Bay posters when they come up.

There are also a very few posters on offer at Dominic Winter’s auction tomorrow, but they do include one or two interesting wartime and pre-war ones.  This Abram Games falls, like so many of his wartime posters, into the category of admirable but I wouldn’t want to have it on my wall.

Abram Games vintage army ordnance poster c1943
Abram Games, 1943, est. £300-500

Then there is this  McKnight Kauffer ARP poster.

McKNight Kauffer vintage propaganda poster ARP 1938
Edward McKnight Kauffer, 1938, est. £200-300

We have a smaller version of this and I was considering it the other day, because it is an odd one.

Although I quite like it as a piece of graphic design (enough to have the air pellet holes removed and get it framed, so a fair bit of like), I’m not sure it’s successful as a poster.  But then it does have an almost impossible task to fulfill.  The design dates from 1938, so just before the war; it needs to make people aware that there is a need for them to do something, but at the same time it can’t spell out the detail of what might happen and frighten people (“you will all be bombed in your beds and die without ARP, so there”).  So it ends up being a bit vague and ineffectual; perhaps they thought that people would have read the papers and would be able to fill in the details themselves, or maybe they just wanted to be woolly at this stage, I don’t know.

Dominic Winter are also selling an ARP poster by Pat Keely in the same sale, and I’m not sure his design is much more convincing.

Pat Keely vintage arp world war two propaganda poster 1938
Pat Keely, 1938, est. £200-300

What do you reckon?

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