Auction news and reviews today.  Well that’s the theory, but in truth I’m not sure what to type next, because I can’t make head nor tail of the Onslows results.  Some things sold, quite a lot of other things didn’t, but there’s no kind of pattern in it that I can find.

The best result was  £5,000 (estimate £3,000 to £4,000) for Helen McKie’s Waterloo Station during wartime.

Helen McKie British Railways poster Waterloo Station in peace and war 1948

I am pleased to report that the Post Office in Space also went for a well-deserved £130.

Ken Howard (b1932) The Post Office in Space, Goonhilly Downs, original poster PRD 1636

On the other hand, I was somewhat disgruntled to see this Unger go for £40 over estimate because that means the we didn’t win it.

Hans Unger London Transport tower poster 1968 raven

Curses.  I want it even more now.  It would have gone so well with our ravens too.

But those were the few glimmers of excitement in some otherwise fairly quiet results.  The vast majority of posters that sold went for within or even under their estimates.  I know they’re not classics, but I was still surprised to see these two Shell posters going for just £130 and £95.

Kavari Schwitzer The Circus These Men Use Shell poster 1938

Derek Sayer "Nellie Jane" Fishermen These Men Use Shell, poster 1937

World War Two posters were sold, or weren’t, with what seems to be no pattern at all to me.  Why did this one go for £410 for example?

Mackinlay's Back Up The Fighting Forces,Weiner for HMSO  1940

While this Abram Games went for just £90.

Abram Games wartime civvy street army poster WW2

I ought to be relieved that not everyone shares my tastes, but the confusion just makes my head spin.

You can multiply that bewilderment by ten when it comes to the railway posters, I simply don’t understand the logic behind what sells and what doesn’t, if there is any to be found.  I suppose it may just depend on something as random as whether or not potential bidders have a sentimental attachment to the particular places depicted.  If you can enlighten me more than that, please do say.

All of which makes trying to guess prices at the forthcoming Great Central Railwayana Auction even more difficult than usual, given the ususal absence of any estimates at all.  There’s a fair selection of posters on offer there, a quite surprising number of which I like.  And this isn’t just because I am trying to be well-disposed towards railway posters and their collectors (more on this another day).

You do still have to wade through quite a few pictures of trains to get to them, mostly by Terence Cuneo.  This one is so much of a picture of a train though that it is actually funny.

Terence Cuneo Scotland For Your Holidays british railways poster 1957

I would love to have heard the commissioning process for this one. We want them to travel to Scotland for their holidays, what shall we show?  The lochs? Edinburgh Castle?  No, I’ve got a much better idea, the engineering of the Forth Bridge and a train.  That’ll entice them.

If that doesn’t persuade you, how about dead monks and missing windows?

Andrew Johnson LNER railway poster fountains abbey

Less obviously odd is this post-war poster for Teignmouth by Mayes, but I still find it a bit uncanny.

Teignmouth Mayes poster British Railways

I can’t work out if it’s the night time, the faint traces of pointilism or just the fact that it looks as though it was painted in 1932.  Answers on a postcard please.  Preferably from Teignmouth.

There are of course more straightforward railway posters to be had too.  I like this Fred Taylor partly for the sentimental reasons mentioned above, because it’s of a place I know.

Fred Taylor British Railways poster Wells market place

What’s also quite satisfying though is that this corner of Wells Market Place still looks just like that.  Which I suspect may not be true of this view of Southend.

British Railways southend playground of the south poster

If this is all getting a bit traditional for you, there is also some more modern typography on offer of a kind that I am always a sucker for.

British Railways poster devon Johnston 1960

British Railways poster Greene Northern Ireland 1960

In both cases, they date from 1960, and there’s an interesting set of thoughts to follow there one day about the updating and modernisation of the traditional art form of the railway poster.

Finally, my favourite poster of the lot, which isn’t actually anything to do with the railways at all, but is both completely 1950s and something I’ve never seen before.

British Travel and Holiday Association Coronation Year 1953 poster anon

Which has to be quite an achievement this year.

  • I read that poster heading as “CORONATION YEAH” which certainly would have been extraordinary for 1953!

  • How much better would that have been. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too much work to fix it, though.

    I also forgot the one item in that auction which was – initially – the reason I was going to mention it, a Pieter Huveneers poster.

    Although it does have a bit of an odd face.

  • That’s quite possibly true. We could ask for a hands up who’s bought one and get a fairly reasonable estimate of the population’s size. We got ours from eBay…

  • hello i was wondering how much did the coronation poster go for i have two one that looks like the one shown here and the other one is this one with a crown promoting BOAC i can’t find much information on both of them any help would be helpful .

  • That one went for £75 – but I have to say that in the right auction (i.e. not a primarily railwayman one) I think it could probably fetch more.

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