Improve each shining hour

Right, it’s back to the auction marathon here, and coming up next is the GWRA on 17th May.

As is the case with pretty much all the railwayana auctions these days, there are increasing number of posters.  Of which the best, in my opinion, is this one.

Tom Eckersley Paignton british railways poster 1950s

But then we’ve already got one, so I would say that, wouldn’t I.  And apologies for the intermittent wonkiness, it’s them not me.

Most interesting poster award goes to this one, by A R Thomson from 1931.

A R Thomson Shining hour LNER poster 1931

I’ve written about this series before, and, as promised in that post, have been doing some more research on both Thomson and the posters.  With the result that I know about a whole slew of strange matters including the development of cognition in deaf people and Eric Gill’s ride on the footplate of the Flying Scotsman.  I will knit them all into a proper blog post one day, I promise.  And in the meantime, if anyone can tell me why that quote is being used on the poster, other than just because they can, I will be very grateful.

Finally, in the perennial category of poster that I quite like without there being any obvious reason, this jolly little number.

Sunny South devon GWR poster

Perhaps it’s because that’s where I’m going on holiday this year and I’m already looking forward to it.

Other than that, all forms of poster life are out there and waiting for your bid.  There are the classics, nicely mounted on linen.

Frank Newbould East Coast types LNER poster lobsterman

There are the pretty pictures of landscape, in this case by one Hesketh Hubbard, who is new to me.

Hesketh Hubbard Simonsbath exmoor 1948 BR poster


It turns out that he’s more of an artist than a poster designer, and also has a life drawing society founded in his name.  So now we know.

Kitsch is also represented by the yard.

Rhyl BR poster 1950s British Railways

Along with Cuneos, tram posters and much much more.  Oh, and this.

Spratts cat food advertisement enamel sign

About which I have no comment at all.

I managed to omit the Great Central Railwayana Auction a couple of weeks ago.  Again, there were a lot of posters, most of which went for pretty much the kind of prices you’d expect.  And also the kind of prices that GCR would expect because, the heavens be praised, they have started putting estimates on their catalogues.  So I can tell you that this Amstutz sold for £210 when it had an estimate of £150-200.

British Railways Lowestoft poster Amstutz

But there were also some surprises out there.  Perhaps everyone else apart from me thinks that a Tom Purvis is now worth £1800, but even the estimate was only £900-1,200.

Tom Purvis Bridlington LNER poster

Less plausibly, this went for £420 (set. £150-300)

Teignmouth 1950s British Railways poster

I can only imagine some kind of bidding war between two people from Teignmouth to create that price.

I’m also somewhat surprised that this poster went for £620 because, well, it doesn’t have much picture on it really, does it?

Clyde coast Frank Mason LNER poster 1939

I suppose that the small bit that does exist is by Frank Mason, but even so.

One of my cherished theories – that artwork for posters never goes for that much in the end – was blown out of the water by this particular lot.

Original artwork for a Southern Railway quad royal poster, KENT ELECTRIFICATION, by Ward. 20¾"x13½".

By Ward, it is the original watercolour and sized at just 20″  x 13″; nonetheless it went for a whopping £1500.

More modern lots were rather less predictable.  This very fine London Transport poster by Peter Robeson sold well over estimate at £270.  Which is a considerable sum for this kind of poster.

A London Transport double royal poster, COUNTRY WALKS, Foxes and cubs in Epping Forest, by Peter Roberson

A statement you may translate as, we like to buy these kinds of poster only now it’s looking like we can’t afford them any more.

While on the other hand, we really should have gone for this truly great Stevens, a steal at £110.

LT double royal poster, SEE LONDON BY LT, by Stevens

And from all of that I can offer you no conclusions at all, except that posters cost money and getting estimates on railwayana auctions makes me rather happier than it probably ought to.

More auctions soon, and, if you are very unlucky, a discussion of birth rates in the 1920s and 30s with reference to the work of Tom Purvis.

  • So they did. But I somehow still like to believe that I might get slightly more of a bargain at a railwayana auction than Christies. Apparently not, though.

  • I guess to some extent the difference in Buyer’s Premium must have some effect – Christies being the best part of 30% I think, whereas Railwayana auctions are more like 12-15%. When you’re up in the thousands that’s a serious add-on.
    Also, I suppose the fact that Purvis posters so rarely come up away from Christies and maybe Bloomsbury, adds a certain urge for people to push up prices.

  • As for the Overprinted Stock poster for Holidays on The Clyde Coast by Frank Mason; I’m as baffled as you on that, not least because a similar one sold at GCR last year for £540 – so there seems to be some serious money going after them, which seems odd for such a wordy poster.
    I acquired a similar stock poster without the overprint of the words for £10; do you think someone might give me £600 for it !! Or is it now the words not the pictures which are selling the posters, which seems to turn everything on it’s head. I think I’m a little confused.

  • Ha, that’s really interesting about the stock poster – I think you should send it off to a couple of the railwayana people for an estimate and see what they say. Then we will know what the words are worth…

    As for the rest, your guess is as good as mine. I agree with you about the buyer’s premium, but have always imagined that gets cancelled out by the ‘cachet’ of Christies (which loosely translates as lots of very rich people getting a bit carried away).

  • Excellent. And I do owe you for pointing me in the direction of those posters in the first place. As you will see very shortly, I am still pondering over them…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.