Today’s post is crowdsourcing, Quad Royal style, because lots of very kind people have been sending me links to posters on sale or sold recently. So the least I can do, of course, is share them.
The first, and following on nicely from my last post, is this Daphne Padden poster for British Railways, which is up for sale in America via eBay.
It’s a great poster, and one that I have never ever seen before and can’t find much trace of either, apart from the fact that one sold in the Midlands about three years ago. Despite all that, and an attempt at a frame, the price seems a bit steep to me at £300+ for a starting bid. But thank you to Mike Jacob for putting that my way nonetheless.
Also forthcoming, and emailed to me by Mr Crownfolio upstairs, is a Christies poster sale. But don’t get too excited, this is an Olympic special, and there are very few Olympic posters I can get enthusiastic about, with this Richard Beck from 1956 perhaps the only exception.
Richard Beck, 1956, est £800-1,200
And I definitely don’t want to buy an Olympic torch (there are a surprising number on offer too). Given that, there isn’t a great deal else to report from the catalogue. All I can point you towards are a handful of McKnight Kauffer’s.
McKnight Kauffer, 1937. est. £700-900
The one below has to be my favourite, although this is less a result of the image than the estimate.
McKnight Kauffer, 1925, est. £1,200 – 1,800
We got another one of this series on eBay about eighteen months ago, only for a small fraction of what Christies thinks it is worth, an experience which never fails to please me. And it’s a nicer image, to boot.
There is also a classic Abram Games.
Abram Games, 1941, est. £2,000 – 3,000
Along with this Peter Roberson, which I am guessing only slips through Christies minimum lot requirements thanks to the Festival of Britain interest.
Peter Roberson, 1950, est. £1,200 – 1,600
My favourite British poster is probably this obscure and slightly pallid Victor Pasmore.
Victor Pasmore, 1948, est. £600 – 800
Note the use of British in the sentence above. Because once again, the local talent is having to compete for my attention with a small but lovely set of David Klein posters.
David Klein, 1960, est. £800 – 1,200
David Klein, 1958, est. £800 – 1,200
David Klein, 1958, est. £800 – 1,200
That first one in particular is fabulous, if a touch unaffordable.
The bad news is not just the small selection of posters I want to look at either. As far as I can tell from Christies’ Calendar, this will be their only poster sale this spring. And eBay’s gone into the doldrums too. There’s nothing left for it, I may have to start trawling the railwayana catalogues to keep my hopes up.
There are still a few glimmerings in the provincial auction scene as well, although I might have to get my act together a bit in reporting them to you. James Manning pointed out that Dreweatts have been selling more Percy Drake Brookshaws in a recent sale.
Now I say more because one of my first ever posts on here was about some of his posters being sold at the same auction house. Both then and now they seem to have come from the artist’s family, who have clearly been disposing of what they have in dribs and drabs. And also saving the best stuff until last.
What’s most amusing about these lots is the discrepancy between the estimates and the results. I would have been very happy to get the poster above for the £50-60 that Dreweatt’s estimated. Sadly it went for £550. Although perhaps not sadly, given that I missed the sale.
That wasn’t a freak occurrence either, all the posters reached similarly high prices. The boat race poster below was estimated at £100-150, but sold for almost ten times that, £1,100.
While this classic would have been the bargain of the century at its £60-80 estimate.
But it too went for £1,100.
I swear I will never ever fully understand the poster market. Prices like that make me think that the internet is doing its job in flattening out the market, as anyone with an interest and a tiny bit of understanding of searches on websites can find almost any lot up for sale and bid on it. But why doesn’t that work with eBay then? Why can we buy a McKnight Kauffer on there for a tenth of its Christies price? I think we might need to write a specialist piece of poster market theory, so if there is an economist in the house, can they get in touch? And for anyone else, please do keep sending the auction links and anything else that takes your fancy, they’re very much appreciated.
Christies has some nice posters in the catalogue. In regards to the McKnight Kauffer Enos “Fruit Salt” poster. Looking at its measurements in the catalogue its about 10 feet by 7 feet. Thats an extremely large poster. Would that have been the size poster in the rail station displays I’ve seen in old photographs? Do you think the higher price is because its so big?
You’re not wrong there, it’s huge! I missed that bit. But does that make it more or less valuable? Rarity on one hand would push the price up, but I would have thought the sheer size would have meant that very few people might have the wall space to house it. Anyone got any thoughts on this?
Though not a fully fledged Economist, I did once attend an Economics lecture, subsequently realising I was in the wrong lecture hall ( I should of course have been in a Sociology lecture) – so in my world that qualifies me to speak on this subject…here are my rambling, incoherent observations on pricing in the market
1. This is no longer “poor mans art,” I suspect the days of picking up a perfect Padden or fabulous Fitton at bargain basement prices are long gone. “Art” values have gone up as people look to put money in real things rather than in low yielding savings accounts with those banking people. The attraction of posters as an investment is that they are still in the scheme of things relatively low in value, fairly unique as artefacts and some artists are becoming increasingly recognised. My personal view is that there is some way to go upwards in the pricing.
2. Following a glut of low value posters swilling around peaking with the Morphets sale a few years ago, opportunities to purchase posters by recognised British poster artists at low prices have become scarcer (all those posters must all be hiding somewhere). The Dreweatts sale was interesting, I too was surprised at the low estimates, thankfully it proved that size is not everything (if so the Eno’s poster would be estimated at much more) but also kind of illustrated that where recognised works by artists are available they will sell at premium prices.
3. It is a good time to sell.
I agree with all of that (and I do wish we had just bought everything in the Morphets sale, with hindsight it was as you say a glut which has now turned to scarcity).
But the one thing I don’t understand is why some things are still going cheap on eBay. Twice in the last two weeks, we’ve traced a poster going for a couple of hundred on eBay then being sold in a ‘proper’ place for a multiple of ten times its value. In fact I might post those two examples up in the next day or so for further comment and consideration.
I guess that’s where the fabulous wonders of subjective value come into play..I’ve often bought with my heart rather than head – then seen the same thing mucho cheaper elsewhere…there must be some logic to this somewhere! Ebay can be a wonderful thing if you have the patience and attributes to do a trawl… I guess from a branding/market positioning perspective we should expect Ebay products to be cheaper than Christies? But it seems to me that there are certain works by certain artists that are increasingly in demand. Klein for example – a couple of years ago I picked up a few of his posters for a good price…Out comes Mad Men and hey presto the values in the US and here seem to rise (it’s a mad, mad world etc), the above posters will be interesting to watch. Im very curious currently about the values of artists like Padden and Eckersley – there hasn’t been a lot in the auctions for a little while…I’m intrigued to see what happens when some of their more recognised stuff comes up in an auction again
Yes, it would be interesting to see how artists like that do now. As I said in one of the posts I linked to above, the Christies Minimum Lot price has made the value of artists like that much more difficult to evaluate as they don’t generally appear in their auctions any more, and my guess would be that prices might well have gone down as a result. Indeed, prices for Eckersley and Royston Cooper were steadily going down before that, as a look through Christies results shows (I might work through that properly for the blog one of these days). Perhaps it is time for the upturn…
this is quite random. we were at the auction yesterday and bought the peter roberson and the passmore. oddly the passmore has very little interest, i guess most people attending by phone / in the room or online were interested in the olympic stuff (which went for absolutely crazy prices – see the spyros louis silver cup for £500,000 before costs). the passmore camed with another poster for an exhibition for british wallpapers, a pleasant surprise. i will send you a picture of it.
we loved the david klein series as well but did not bid. the new york one went for more than 7,000. a few lots did not seem to reach the reserve price. some broders in particular.
Thank you very much for reporting back -it’s always good to hear a first-hand report. I will look at the mad Olympic prices myself when I get a chance, and the posters too.
A modified version of the Peter Roberson was used as one side of London Transport’s visitor guide (helpfully titled ‘London’) from 1956 to 1966.
The major differences were that all the people were rendered in black and white and the Festival of Britain was replaced with the Royal Festival Hall (with dancers and orchestra) and Horseguards (lots of guardsmen).
The staff of the Tower were massacred to provide space for the front and back covers of the folded map, being reduced to one beefeater, one pikeman and a chap in jousting armour. The two horsemen above the Tower were supplanted by the raven below the Tower in the poster. The ‘paths’ from the buildings to the central map were removed and the resulting spaces filled with extra exhibits for the BM and the V&A.
While the red sections of the poster were removed the coloured patches under the building remained, being rendered in an unsuitable colour which changed every couple of years of so. The same colour was used for the Visitor’s London text and a border and the ring of the LT logo on the front cover of the map.
Thanks for that – it makes sense, I can see it almost being more use on a guide than a poster, as you could look at it properly.
Clearly the people at Dreweatts knew nothing about what they were auctioning – any fule no that those posters are significantly more valuable. It reminds me of the time many years (perhaps 25) ago when I attended an auction at Greenwich. Amongst a motley and scruffy selection of tatty furniture, knackered Baby Belling cookers and dreadful LPs was a large 1920/30s Southern Railway poster for (I think) something like The Lake District of the South. Although it was folded, it was in very good condition – a beautiful stone litho in stunning shades of green and purple.
The estimate was £10-15. I thought I was going to have a heart attack as I waited for lot to come up, naively musing if I could afford to get it framed. Needless to say, when it finally came up I had to drop out at £60 as two (presumably) dealers battled it out until it went for £450. I still weep internally at the loss. Incidentally, I have never seen this poster again – do you or anyone else know of the poster? It’s not this one
Apropos of Christies and their minimum values (but not of posters), my Austrian grandfather collected rare books and I sent Christies photos of one of them (a Wiener Werkstaette custom leather binding) for a free valuation. After many weeks waiting they emailed to say that their antiquarian book ‘experts’ did not consider it would reach the minimum of £1,000. I have since been in touch with a Viennese dealer, a leading expert in the field, who valued it at 4,5oo euros. So much for Christies’ expertise.
The Dreweatts auction was particularly odd as they’d been selling tons of the PDB stuff before, so they should have had some clue.
Can’t help on the poster, but you might want to take a close look through this site:
If anywhere might have it, they will.
Thanks, but I’ve checked that and the NRM.
Perhaps someone else will come along here and be able to help!
If not, then I’m afraid it joins my long list of posters I once saw and then failed to keep a picture of and so am doomed to go on and on about without ever seeing them again… Sorry not to be able to sort it out!