Krol to be kind

We bought this quite a while ago, but only recently got round to photographing it.

Stan Krol vintage GPO poster March 1966 TV and radio licensing

It’s by Stan Krol, and thanks to the BMPA and their lovely online catalogue I can tell you that it’s from March 1966.  A date that slightly surprised me as I would have had it down as late 1950s had I been asked.  And when I look at the catalogue closely, this poster is sandwiched in between lots of other 1950s posters so I am wondering whether this might be a typo.  I will ask them.

What I can’t tell you and don’t know, however, is much about Stan Krol himself.  I’ve been trying to research him for the last week or two and it’s been a useful lesson in two ways.  One is that sometimes it really isn’t possible to find out much other than that someone once designed posters and was born in 1910, the one biographical fact I do have about him.  The other is that not all designers from the past are in fact undiscovered geniuses.  Which isn’t to say that Stan Krol is a bad designer at all, he did some great stuff, like this poster for the Post Office Savings Bank from 1960, when Krol was already turning 50.

Stan Krol vintage Post Office Savings Bank poster 1960

In fact it’s the BPMA archive that can tell me the most about Krol’s career.  He started working for them in the late 1940s, which is when these two usefully informative internal posters come from.

Staff information poster for Telegraph engineers; featuring a telegraph pole. Also included is a proof of this poster, with artist's details on the back. Artist: Krol, Stan.  Printer: Waterlow & Sons Ltd.

Poster explaining the correct procedure for removing manhole covers; featuring a picture of a manhole cover. Artist: Krol, Stan.  Printer: Fosh & Cross Ltd. Vintage GPO poster

He carries on working for them throughout the 1950s.

Stan Krol vintage GPO poster 1950

stan Krol 1956 vintage GPO postal order poster

He carried on throughout the 1960s as well.

Stan Krol vintage Post Office Savings Bank poster 1960

Stan Krol vintage GPO recruitment poste 1962

He was even producing posters for them as late as 1971.

Stan Krol vintage national savings bank poster 1971 decimalisation

When you lay out all of his GPO stuff like that, it’s not a bad selection of work.  But what’s strange is both how little he seems to have done for other people, and how that mostly wasn’t as good.  This, for example, is one of just two posters he did for London Transport.

Stan Krol vintage London Transport poster anniversaries 1966

He also did a fairly standard blue skies BOAC poster at some point, which does make me think of peeling a banana.

Stan Krol vintage BOAC poster 1950s

Along with a United National poster in a similar style

stan Krol vintage poster United Nations

But he was still capable of some surprises too.  I like this ROSPA poster from 1971 more than most people would simply because it has a black cat on it.

Stan Krol vintage ROSPA safety poster 1971

But the two coach posters that I’ve seen of his – both from the 1960s are just plain great.

Stan Krol Morecambe beauty contest vintage coach poster 1967

Stan Krol vintage Bridlington poster 1967 coach poster

Both of these are courtesy of Fears and Kahn; the Morecambe bathing beauties have sadly sold, but Bridlington is still there if it has taken your fancy.

Now that I’ve laid Krol’s work end to end along the blog, I like it a lot more than I did when I began.  He fitted his style to the times very well, a particularly impressive feat when you consider that he was producing his last posters when he was in his 60s.  Yes, he may not be an undiscovered genius, but he was a very good working designer.  And they need celebrating as well.

  • hello CROWNFOLIO. I do know a few facts about Stan Krol. He was born in Poland (grew up in Warsaw), in a jewish family, only son, his parents had a paint factory. He studied chemistry. Just before WWII left Poland alone and travelled throughout europe until he reached England, about 1940. Then he joined the army, in scotland. There was some long illness, and after that Stan started a new life: studied at st. andrews university and became a graphic designer. Worked in London as a freelance artist from then on. Married Hazel (ballerina from Berlin, real name Ingeborg) at 54, no children. They lived in Barnes, London. Stan died in 1985, Hazel in 2001. I remember him as a very kind and good humored person, who loved his work. I visited him in London from the late seventies and saw drawers full of posters in his studio. My favourite was another cat safety warning: “be seen, wear white at night” . Many people must have kept stan’s beautiful new year’s cards – he designed one every year.
    Thank you so much for your post.

  • That’s brilliant, thank you. In fact it probably deserves a post of its own one of these days just to make sure that more people see it, and I’ll try and do that one of these days.

  • I knew Stan in the early sixties when he lived alone (as far as I could tell) in a flat off the Fulham Road between Gilston Road and Redcliffe Road. His artwork adorned every spare space on the walls. I found him (as a teenager) to be a very personable man with a good sense of humour. I was proud of his work and would be happy to discuss his work and show examples on request. I left the area in 1967 and did not meet him again.

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