On 16th July, Bloomsbury are holding their Poster Sale, in what I’m hoping will be the last auction for a while – I say this mainly because I want to write about other things for a chance.
I’m not so jaded that I am going to do this, but I am aware that I could almost substitute what I wrote about Onslows in here with different illustrations, because the two sales are following a very similar pattern.
In particular, they both have a big selection of GPO posters, although in the case of Bloomsbury, they sell them in lots of ten so the estimates, although nominally higher than Onslows are actually cheaper on a per poster basis. Which is confusing, in a trying to work out which brand of cornflakes in the supermarket is actually best value kind of way. Perhaps we should price posters per square centimetre for the sake of clarity. Anyway, these are what’s on offer, but bear in mind that each one comes with nine unphotographed others.
This also connects up with the Onlows sale in that these – rather than the set on offer at Onslows – are the ones rescued from a skip when the Post Office were having a clear out. So it’s an interesting coincidence that two sets have come on the market at the same time. There is one more lot on offer at Bloomsbury as well, fronted by this Tom Eckersley classic.
In another resemblance to Onslows, Bloomsbury also have a few fantastic Games posters tucked away at the end. I won’t go through them all, but mostly they are good but not news to me because they have been much reproduced, like this London Transport example.
This one, however is both new to me and utterly wonderful.
Abram Games, 1952, est. £200-400
It’s apparently a British Railways poster - and given that it’s in the collection of the NRM I see no reason to doubt this – but it doesn’t say BR on it anyway. Which is unusual, but I imagine just the kind of thing Abram Games got away with and no one else was allowed to.
Onslows was full of Shell posters; Bloomsbury have but two. They are, however, this kind and so both preferable and more valuable.
After that, however, I start to run out. There are foreign posters (lots), film posters (just as many) and car posters (quite a few) but little to tickle my fancy. The best thing I could find is this Lander, and it’s not one of his best.
The only other thing that is of interest, although strictly speaking it’s more of a print, is this item by James Fitton.
Now I’ve come across one of these before. It’s a print by CEMA, wartime fore-runner to the Arts Council and the prints look to be precursors of the School Prints and Lyons editions. But I can’t find anything about them anywhere – do you lot know where they might be documented? Or even a decent history of CEMA itself would do. Anyway, there are actually a whole set available in the lot, so the estimate looks like somewhat of a bargain, if you like that kind of thing.
Even though it’s a bit short on my personal favourite kinds of posters, I still think the sale is good though, because I think Bloomsbury have answered the question that I asked a week or two ago, which was where are we to buy and sell mid range posters now that Christies have turned us away at the door? Here, it seems.
That said, I do still have a couple of reservations. One is very simply that they are not trying very hard with their catalogue. For several of the posters I’ve illustrated up there, no dates have been given in the catalogue; in each case it’s been the matter of moments with Google for me to find out. And given that two of those posters are for the GPO and London Transport, who in each case have comprehensive online catalogues, with dates, it’s pretty poor.
The other is the estimates. They’re both wide and well, a bit vague. Surely that fantastic Games of Blackpool has to be worth more than the average Lander? So then I look at the catalogue and wonder how much they really know about their lots. Still, I don’t suppose it matters too much. This is, after all, an auction, and the market can judge for itself what a poster is worth. But I do still feel very slightly cheated.
Finally, in a shameless piece of self-advertisement, we are selling some posters on eBay. However, they are mostly world war two, mostly a bit shabby (OK, some a lot shabby) and surplus to requirements, so keep your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed.