Beck again

I’m in the middle of writing a big long post about, well, things, but it’s hard work in the heat, and now Mr Crownfolio has been distracting me with interesting posters. Two to be precise, both of which are coming up for sale in American auctions, and both of which are worth five minutes of your time.

The first is being sold by Swann Auctions, and is noteworthy not because it is the greatest poster ever produced by London Transport during the 1930s – it isn’t – but because it’s a poster by Harry Beck, best known of course for designing the diagrammatic London Transport map.

Harry Beck London Transport poster Chess Valley Rambles 1933

I had no idea he’d produced posters at all, so there you go.  The London Transport Museum collection tells me that he did two others as well.

London Transport poster Cheap return fares, by Harry Beck, 1933

London Transport poster This week in London, by Harry Beck, 1932

Although it does rather appear that he only had one good idea overall.  Well one good poster idea, and then the flash of genius that was the tube map.

A tip, though.  When you are searching the LTM collection, don’t just put ‘Beck’ into the search box, otherwise you will be convinced that he was an unrecognised modernist designer of genius.  The results are muddied you see, because they also include the works of Richard Beck, who is very good, and has been written about on here before.

London Transport is Ever Ready Richard Beck poster

But that’s not all, because the search also brings you those of Maurice Beck, who hasn’t come to my attention until now.  It turns out that he was the photographer for British Vogue in the 1920s, and did a rather nifty line in photographic and photomontage posters as well.

Nothing left to chance, by Maurice Beck, 1930 London Transport poster

London Transport poster Everything ready to all the sports, by Maurice Beck, 1933

Together, though, the works of ‘Beck’ make a rather good modernist collection.

Meanwhile, somewhere out there on the American internet, this is going to be auctioned in September.

Warren Kenton London Transport poster on Greenwich - 1962

Mr Crownfolio partly pointed it out because of the rather, um, excitable write up.

London Transport poster on Greenwich – 1962 Amazing condition, quality and colors ! ! ! Greenwich was early in the space business… Object: Poster Place of origin: Greater London, England (issued) Date: 1962 (issued) Artist/Maker: Kenton, Warren, born 1933 (designer) London Transport Executive (issuer) Materials and Techniques: Colour lithograph Credit Line: Given by the London Transport Board This poster is actually house in the London museum ! Museum number: E.802-1963. Gallery location: Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case Y, shelf 69, box 1 Features the Greenwich Observatory !

It’s in a museum!  It features a building! Wow!

But once you’ve recovered from the hyperbole, it’s actually a rather wonderful poster and further proof of my thesis from just the other day that there are lots of under-recognised London Transport posters out there.

I was going to say that I can’t tell you anything about Warren Kenton, because the whole internet is clogged up with an astrologer of the same name.  Except it turns out that he’s one and the same person.  He designed one fantastic poster, then did a quite comprehensive career swerve and became a Kabbalistic astrologer.  Full biography here if you don’t believe me.

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