Remedial Pine Baths

Just squeezing this post in close to the wire, as the next Christies Poster Sale has rather crept up on me and turns out to be tomorrow.  But still, I do assume that most of you – no, actually, make that every last one of you – only read this blog in the spirit of a window shopper rather than a purchaser.   All opinions here are both personal and biased, and definitely not intended to be investment advice.

That said, back to the window shopping.  And I’m feeling quite well disposed towards the Christies sale for once, and I think there’s a very simple reason for it.  The English posters are first in the catalogue.

Edward McKnight Kauffer (1890-1954) PLAY BETWEEN 6 AND 12 lithograph in colours, 1931, printed by Vincent Brooks, Day & Son Ltd., London,
McKnight Kauffer, 1931, est. £8-12,000

There, I told you it was simple, but it is nonetheless true.  They’re not just shoved in between some Muchas and a load of other French posters, for once they get pride of place.  And so the sale begins with a nice slew of London Underground posters, including the very expensive McKnight Kauffer above (other expensive McKnight Kauffers are also available should you so wish) and a rather cheaper Edward Bawden at just a tenth of that estimate.

Edward Bawden (1903-1989) KEW GARDENS lithograph in colours, 1936, printed by Curwen Press, London London Transport Poster
Edward Bawden, 1936, est. £800-1,200

It then moves on to the best set of Shell posters I’ve seen at auction for some time.  All the classics that you’ve ever wanted to own (alright, all the ones I’ve ever wanted to own at least) are out there, starting with the graphic designers.

Tom Eckersley (1914-1997) & Eric Lombers (1914-1978) SCIENTISTS PREFER SHELL lithograph in colours, 1938 Shell poster
Eckersley-Lombers, 1938, est. £800-1,200

Zero (Hans Schleger, 1898-1976) THESE MEN USE SHELL, JOURNALISTS  lithograph in colours, 1938 Shell poster
Hans Schleger (Zero), 1938, est. £1,000-1,500

And then moving on to the fine artists.

Paul Nash (1889-1946) KIMMERIDGE FOLLY, DORSET lithograph in colours, 1937, printed by Waterlow Shell poster
Paul Nash, 1937, est. £800-1,200

Shell poster Graham Sutherland (1903-1980) BRIMHAM ROCK, YORKSHIRE lithograph in colours, 1937
Graham Sutherland, 1937, est. £800-1,200

The  Nash and the Sutherland are oft-reprinted classics, but the Bawden is less well known but still rather lovely, although admittedly none of these come at the most affordable of prices.

Edward Bawden (1903-1989) WALTON CASTLE, CLEVEDON, SOMERSET lithograph in colours, 1936, printed by Waterlow Shell poster
Edward Bawden, 1936, est. £1,000-1,500

It’s worth noting that the Bawden is more expensive because, like quite a few other posters in the sale, it is the lead item in a job lot.  Here there are three other Shell posters on offer, also including Llanthony Abbey by one of my minor obsessions, Denis Constanduros.

Denis Constanduros Llanthony Abbey Shell poster


I have two observations about this.  One is that the set up is a bit poor for those of us who are only able to view via the internet, because the three other posters are not shown anywhere on the website.  (The image above is one that I’d used previously on the blog, and nothing to do with the actual poster up for auction.)

The other is to do with Christies’ minimum lot price, which is presumably something even heftier than the original £500 these days.  Goodness knows I have gone on about this often enough, but now they do seem to be a bit hoist by their own decision, because they’ve been forced to have a lot of combined lots when the auction would have been a lot better as just single lots really.  How do I or anyone else know what that Bawden is actually worth now?  Or the Constanduros come to that?  I know that’s not the function of auctions, they exist to sell things, but even so, it’s annoying.  And the deal would be even more even more annoying if I wanted to buy the Bawden, because then I’d have to offload the other three posters.  And if I wanted to buy the Constanduros, well I would be in an apocalyptic fury by now.

But enough of that, and back to the offerings.  There aren’t many railway posters for once, but this Purvis is rather lovely.

LNER railway poster Tom Purvis (1888-1959) WHITLEY BAY lithograph in colours, c.1935
Tom Purvis, c.1935, est £2,000-3,000

While this is both enormous – three metres by two – and rather pleasingly bonkers.

poster HB BLACKPOOL LIDO lithograph in colours, printed by Ayre & Senior, Blackpool
Anonymous, est. £800-1,200

Brine bath follow by a “Q” Ray Radium Pad anyone?

And that’s about it for the British posters, well apart from this specimen.

Anonymous KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON  lithograph in colours, 1939, published by the Ministry of Information WW2 poster
Anonymous, 1939, est. £6-8,000

They’d better stop finding these, and sharpish, otherwise those values are going to plummet.

And that’s about your lot.  Well, apart, obviously, from lots of other, foreign posters, for which this Cassandra can stand representative.

A.M. Cassandre (1901-1968) THOMSON lithograph in colours, 1931 poster
Cassandre, 1931, est. £7-9,000


  • It’s awfully nice to have you back.
    Christies poster sales always have the ability to confound don’t they…..the minimum expected sale price for a lot is now £800, so a min estimate should be £800-1200. Obviously as we have seen in recent sales, this has reduced the quantity of British posters which appear in the sales. As you suggest, they may be attempting to reverse this by allowing job lots, but it’s difficult to see who really wins from that idea for all the reasons you give.
    It is nice to see a selection of Shell posters though, as they generally seem rather rare in auctions from what I can see, unless I’m missing some major Oil & Gasiana poster sales somewhere of course!

  • Why thank you. And yes, I don’t know where all the Shell posters have been recently, this is the first decent batch there has been for ages. If anyone would like to buy me the Sutherland, I’d be much obliged.

  • Wouldn’t that Tom Purvis giant look good covering a bathroom wall! And you are right about the windowshopping – my poster collection resides on my pinterest board. And very delightful it is too! :o)

  • Having viewed the lots with several posters, the others apart from the named poster were all badly torn, so I guess that’s why they were lumped together.

  • Unfortunately that seems to be the way things are going with some auctions – hide the ropey stuff behind a good item, only showing an image of the good one, and not mentioning the condition of the others, other than maybe B+/B for the whole lot, which says not a lot to most people. I see they also let a few lots go for as little as £400, which seems a bit odd considering the min value of £800! Presumably if you put in a good quantity they’ll take them all and hope for the best.

  • £4500 hammer price for the Purvis!
    That’s rather more than the cost of a good bathroom, so lets hope they give it a waterproof frame!!

  • It’s a rather nice story, ending with a poster going to be seen by the public, rather than hidden away in a collection.

    And you do read all the most high profile publications don’t you!

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