ohn Greene RibblesdaleStainforth near Settle, original poster printed for BR (LMR) by Wood Roselaar circa 1960

Hither and thither

In the immortal words of Smash Hits, I am back.  Back, back back.  Admittedly I am typing this from amongst a forest of boxes, and if you asked me to lay my hands on almost anything we own, I wouldn’t be able to, but I am here.  And with a rather snazzy new network connection too, which probably isn’t going to make much difference at your end, but is certainly an improvement from where I am sitting.

But enough of my domestic arrangements, it’s time to turn back to the world of posters, and in particular next week’s Onslow’s sale.  What are we going to say about this – or rather what am I going to say as my attempt at crowd-sourcing some opinions on this didn’t really get enough of a response to constitute a post.  So here goes.

My first impression on flicking through the catalogue is that there are an awful lot of Shell educational posters; I haven’t actually counted them, but more than enough to fulfill all your county needs.    Here’s Rowland Hilder’s Warwickshire and David Gentleman’s Somerset by way of a sample.

Rowland HIlder Shell county poster Warwickshire

David Gentleman shell county poster warwickshire

Now these have estimates of £70-100 and £100-150 respectively and I am going to say once again what I always say when Shell posters come up, which is that I do not understand what the market is for these and thus have no idea what they are worth.  They’re lovely things to display, but both the educational text and the metal hanging bars do rather get in the way of the value I think.  What is a fair price for these – other than just what people are prepared to pay?  Any thoughts?

There’s also the usual tranche of World War Two posters, including this old friend.

Abram Games Army world war two poster civvy street
Abram Games, 1946, est. £70-100

It’s current ubiquity is affecting the estimate I think, which is a shame as its a lovely design.  Of the rest, this Dame Laura Knight has to be the best drawing, if perhaps not the best poster.

Laura Knight (1877-1970) Thousands of Women Needed Now in the ATS WAAF, original WW2 Home Front poster printed for HMSO 1940

Dame Laura Knight, 1940, est. £250-300

While my personal favourite is this modernist take on Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases.

Coughs & Sneezes Spread Diseases, original WW2 Home Front poster printed for HMSO  194

Anon, c. 1940, est. £50-100

I do like the variety of design styles you get in the Home Front posters; there was a way of persuading you to use a handkerchief to suit almost every kind of taste.

Then, of course, there are the railway and underground posters that you’d expect too.  Contrarian that I am, this is the kind of thing I like.

F Donald Blake (1908 - 1997) British Railways for British Industry, original poster printed for BR (E) by Waterlow

F Donald Blake, est. £70-100

But if you’re after countryside and representation, that is of course available by the yard as well.

Claude Buckle (1905-1973) Sussex, original poster Ad 6697 printed for BR (SR) by Waterlow circa 1950

Claude Buckle, c. 1950, est. £400-600

ohn Greene RibblesdaleStainforth near Settle, original poster printed for BR (LMR) by Wood Roselaar circa 1960

John Greene, c. 1960, est. £400-450

Those two are both later examples from British Railways, when the line between poster and landscape painting is getting a bit more blurred, but for some reason I rather like them both.  There’s plenty more of that kind of thing available.  Then there is also this Austin Cooper, which is a rather unusual item in that it’s a British poster for a furrin destination.

Austin Cooper (1890-1964) Bonn on Rhine The birthplace of Beethoven, original poster printed for LNER by Ben Johnson circa 1930

Austin Cooper, 1930, est. £100-150

But pick of the pops for me has to be this Hans Unger, for just being great.

Hans Unger (1915-1975) The Contnent via Harwich, original poster printed for BR (ER) circa 1957

Hans Unger, 1957, est. £100-150

The London Transport posters are fewer in number and less immediately engaging, although this James Fitton always deserves a mention.

James Fitton (1899-1992) Its safer by London Underground, (Clown on Tight rope) original poster (without title) printed for LT by Baynard 1937

James Fitton, 1937, est. £300-400

Finally, something which is both interesting and rather lovely.

R Coxon (1896-1997) October Tree Felling, original poster printed for CEMA (later became Arts Council) circa 1940

R Coxon, 1940, est. £150-200

Here’s the blurb from the catalogue about it:

R Coxon (1896-1997) October Tree Felling, original poster printed for CEMA (later became Arts Council) circa 1940

I’m guessing – looking at the design and format – that these are in some ways related to the post-war Schools Prints, but I don’t really know and right now don’t have the time to get lost in the internet and find out.  Is there a good book written about CEMA anywhere?  You would think there ought to be.

And if there is anything I have missed out that you think should be included, please let me know.  The comments box is just down there and waiting for your thoughts.

  • Welcome back !

    A agree that the values on the shell educational posters are confusing, I recently sold 11 of the Seasons posters by Badmin and Hiller for 12.50 each on Ebay, On this basis the Onslows stock looks overpriced. I think overall though this latest catalogue looks to represent good value, lets see at the sale !!

    Paul (Pickersgills Posters)

  • I find ebay much cheaper than Onslows generally, there is one of the Games posters above on for £50 at the moment, I bought one of the first on ebay – wish I knew there were a few kicking about at the time! On the subject of ebay, has anyone else seen the WW2 billboard poster on there at the moment? Its not the most exciting thing in the world and yet I am drawn to it (probably just the size!); the only thing that kills it it price.


  • I share your pain, we bought the second Games. Never mind.

    I hadn’t seen the billboard poster until now, but it’s, um, interesting. It probably is one of a kind, but unfortunately in this case I think that lowers rather than raises the price. It’s here if anyone else wants to take a look:

    We once in a fit of madness bought some billboard posters. Amazingly, at the time we did have a wall big enough to put one on, but never in the end did (can’t think why). But we decided they were unsaleable, and ended up giving them to the History of Advertising Trust instead. I posted about them a while ago:
    So I suspect his expectations may not be met.

  • I think I will wait it out and put a cheeky low offer in if it doesn’t sell, I don’t even have the space to put it up…one day maybe!
    Thanks for taking the time to do the blog btw, I only really got into posters about a year ago and your blog has been most useful.


  • Do let me know if you do get it. And thank you for the kind words about the blog,it’s always good to know that it’s useful!

  • Quite possibly, although I hadn’t c0me across it until now. I suspect it will be there for a while longer too at that price…

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