The Clever Housewife

Auction time is upon us once again.  In fact we are currently so beset by auctions that I’m unlikely to get them all into one post and (oh the shame) I’ve even missed a couple.  Nonetheless, we will persevere.

The very lovely Swann Auctions in New York have sent over the catalogue for their sale of Rare and Important Posters on Occtober 18th.

N Cramer Roberts, 1928 est. $800-1,200

It’s all very lovely, while at the same time being not really my kind of thing, and also really quite expensive.

Peter Irwin Brown, 1932, set. £7,000-£10,000

For the sake of both my taste and my bank balance, I’m probably better off waiting for their sale of Common and Insignificant posters instead.  I suspect the contents would be much more my kind of thing.

All of which probably explains why I forgot to tell you about Christies’ auction of October 2nd, with the even more portenteous title of Graphic Masterworks: A Century of Design.

Abram Games BOAC poster 1956

This was the sale of a single collection, amassed by Martijn le Coultre (and if you want to read a sensible piece about it, Paul Rennie has written just the thing).  The Games above is not even remotely representative, because the bulk of it consists of highly influential european works.  A bit like going to a design history lecture in short.


Unfortunately, because the sale has been and gone, I can’t get at the online catalogue any more.  Which makes things quite tricky, because as the results page shows, a significant number of the posters on offer don’t appear to have sold, including this Bauhaus poster which was being touted in advance as the highlight of the sale, and had a corresponding estimate of £150,000 – £200,000.

Joost Schmidt (1883-1948) STAATLICHES BAUHAUS AUSSTELLUNG lithograph in colours, 1923

This Donald Brun poster from 1928 did sell though, and so it should have done because it’s fantastic.

Donald Brun Liga 1928

Much as I love British design, I do sometimes wish that we’d taken just a bit more notice of what the Swiss were up to.

Anyway, we’ve missed that sale, but not the regular Christies October poster sale which is on October 30th.

David Klein (1918-2005)  LAS VEGAS, FLY TWA , c.1963
David Klein, 1963, est. £800-1,200

However, with the exception of a handful of David Klein and Stan Galli midcentury bursts of colour, there isn’t much to linger over.  At least half of the two hundred or so lots are film posters, and quite a lot of the rest are foreign, which doesn’t leave a great deal.  There are a heap of early underground posters, most of which are by Charles Paine.

Charles Paine, London Transport Poster 1922,
Charles Paine, 1922, est. £1,000-1,500

Along with a small quantilty of railway posters, of which the following is noteworthy simply because of the difference that a picture of people with sticks makes.

Andrew Johnson  NORTH BERWICK  lithograph in colours, 1930,
Andrew Johnson, 1930, est. £7,000-9,000

At least five thousand pounds it seems.  Compare the estimate with the Frank Newbould below.

Frank Newbould (1887-1951)  EDINBURGH, 'MONS MEG'  lithograph in colours, 1935
Frank Newbould, 1935, est. £2,500-3,500

There are also a selection of Fougasse posters too.

Fougasse world war two coach posters

These – there are actually eleven in the lot – are the most interesting, because they’re interesting examples of private wartime propaganda.  I believe that they were issued by the Tilling Group of coach companies, presumably for display in their own coach stations.  How they negotiated for the paper I don’t know.

Finally, if you’re not completely exhausted by all that, PosterAuctioneer over in Zurich have an auction.  As ever, the posters are almost entirely Swiss, but this gives me a second excuse for giving you some more Donald Brun.

Donald Brun sock poster
Donald Brun, 1954, est. 140 CHF

That would cost about £100 of your Britsh pounds to buy.  I might have to start rethinking my UK only poster strategy.

There are more auctions to go, but I thnk we’ve all had enough for now, haven’t we?

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