Oddities and curiosities

Right you lucky people, the Onslows Summer auction is upon us and it is time at last to see what is on offer.

Except amongst the things that haven’t been up before, there isn’t very much that makes my heart beat faster.  It’s a sale of curiosities and oddities, well for me at least.  Things like this very late Ashley Havinden from 1962.

Ashley Havinden (1962) Join the Welsh Guard, original Recruiting poster

Ashley Havinden, 1962, est. £70-100

This poster won an advertising award but ironically was not a success due to being printed in English.


While this Tom Purvis would be odd on the basis of what it is advertising alone.

Tom Purvis (1888-1959) Sleep Allenburys Diet, original varnished lithograph poster, mounted on old linen with wood batons top and bottom
Tom Purvis, est. £500-1,000

What you can’t see from that image is that it is also the size of a house (well, nearly).  Here’s the photo taken when it was originally sold in 1990 at the sale of Purvis’s studio.

Purvis poster shown to scale

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

This poster also keeps coming up at the moment (and if I am honest, I keep trying to buy it for cheap and failing).

Nevin's B+I Line Liverpool - Dublin, original poster printed C W Massey poss Henrion
est £200-300

Onslows don’t give an attribution, but I do swear that says Henrion.  Any thoughts, anyone?

Entertainly after the conversations earlier this week, these two Ralph Mott posters have also made an appearance.

Ralph Mott vintage 1930s b2b railway poster
Ralph Mott, late 1930s, est £70-100

Ralph Mott (1888-1959) Warehouse your Goods, original poster printed for GWR,LMS,LNER,SR  Vintage railway poster
Ralph Mott, late 1930s, est £70-100

Yes, that does say British Railways on the second one.  The plot thickens.

There are, of course, plenty more railway posters on offer, and however much I keep going through the listings, none of the classic ones are really speaking to me in this sale.  My favourite is probably this one.

Nevin (dates unknown) The French and Italian Riviera, original poster printed for BR by Charles & Read 1953
Nevin, 1953, est. £400-500

I’m as surprised about that as anyone.

In the case of this Alan Durman, I feel as though I ought to like it, but just can’t quite manage to.

lan Durman (1905-1963) Herne Bay on the Kent Coast, original poster printed for BR(SR) by Baynard 1962
Alan Durman, 1962, est. £600-700

Whether this is because it’s not quite as good as the rest of his stuff, or simply because it’s all been a bit overexposed recently, I don’t know.  Whichever way round, I doubt that I’m reflecting the majority taste here.  But if midcentury we must have, and we must it seems, I’d rather it looked like this.

John Cort Winter Sports go by train, original poster printed for BR(SR)
John Cort, est. £250-300

But it’s not all about railway posters, all the usual categories are there too.  Like GPO posters.  There’s a slew of these more modern ones.

Ken Howard (b1932) The Post Office in Space, Goonhilly Downs, original poster PRD 1636
Ken Howard, est £70-100.

I like the idea of the Post Office in Space a great deal, but generally my experience with this kind of design is that I can scarcely pay people to take them away.  Lets see if Onslows have more luck.  There are also one or two good posters too.

Manfred Reiss, vintage GPO poster 1950 helps the export drive
Manfred Reiss, 1950, est. £250-300

This is labelled as Beaumont, but the signature, to my eyes at least, seems to say Reiss.  Must find out more about both of them though.

There are also wartime posters by the tonne, of which this is probably the most interesting one.

Anon Dig For Victory, For their sake - Grow your own vegetables, printed for HMSO by Weiner circa 1940
Anonymous, est. £300-400

From which you might conclude, quite rightly, that the remainder are of more interest as memorabilia than for their graphic design value.  For example, this Reginald Mayes straddles both WW2 and railway posters, hence the estimate, but I don’t think I’d frame it and hang it up to look at.

Reginald Mayes Reginald Mayes (1901-1992) In War and Peace we serve, No 573 printed for GWR, LMS, LNER and SR by Truscott c 1940
Reginald Mayes, 1940, est. £700-1,000

Mind you, I’ve had my fill of Union Jacks this month as it is.

There are also London Transport posters too.  This pre-war Freda Lingstrom is in my mind a much nicer thing than the Mayes, but is estimated at much less.

Freda Lingstrom (1893-1989) To the Countryside, original poster printed for London Transport by Vincent Brooks Day 1933
Frida Lingstrom, 1933, est. £250-350

One day I will work out the precise price loading which is added for a picture of a steam train.

At the end there are also a nice run of David Klein posters, with some temptingly low estimates.

David Klein, 1962, est. £200-300

Or for even less, you can get the understated British version.

Gaynor Chapman (1935-2000) Britain Tower of London, original poster printed for British Travel by W S Cowell 1968
Gaynor Chapman, 1968, est. £50-70

There’s a very good reason why the sale has turned out this way, and it’s a point that was made very strongly this week.

The answer is of course eBay, where a whole set of these wartime RoSPA posters was up for auction.

Pat Keeley vintage world war two rospa poster swarf

They fetched reasonable prices for slightly battered posters printed on thin paper – this Keeley with a Rothholz on the back went for £67, with the top price being £150.

But once upon a time a lot like this would only ever have been sold at an auction house, probably making its way up to Onslows in the end.  But now they don’t.  Who’d be an auctioneer these days?