You can be sure of Australia

I learned something new the other day.  Which is that the Shell Educational Posters – which I mention on here so often that I can’t be doing with chasing up all the links – aren’t just a British phenomenon.

The University of Melbourne have just digitised their Shell archive and a lot of the most visual artefacts are viewable online.  That includes these.

Shell Australia educational poster R Malcolm Warner 1959 Ayers Rock

And what they turn out to be are Shell posters about Australia.

They’re not exactly like the UK ones, because the dimensions are rather different (to me they look more like magazine ads than posters, but they are catalogued as posters so posters they must be).  But the layout, the typeface and the whole organising principles are the same.

Shell South Australia Wildflowers Poster R Malcolm Warner 1959

They aren’t just confined to wildflowers, either.  There are also a set of Australian birds.

Shell Educational poster birds of Western Australia R Malcolm Warner

Along with, naturally, shells and other such underwater things.

Shell Educational Poster R Malcolm Warner 1959 shells

They’re all by R. Malcolm Warner, about whom I know very little except that he was an Australian war artist.  But stylistically, his work sits very well with the British pictures from similar series.

What’s particularly nice about the archive is that some of the ancillary material has been collected as well.  So we know that some of the illustrations were used on Shell road maps.

Shell Road Maps australia 1950s

As well as some kind of collectible cards.

Collect Shell Australia cards wildflowers

And that’s about all I have to say about them really; this post is mostly to express my amazement and surprise that these examples from the other side of the world exist at all.

You can look at the full selection on the University of Melbourne’s website, although be warned, the interface is a bit idiosyncratic.

And many thanks to Kiara King, who pointed me via Twitter to the University’s blog, and hence on to the whole collection.

  • I have copies of the original published prints of the Shell Australian poster collection. Would anyone be interested in adding these to a collection.

  • I also just found 3 original Shell posters. fairly good condition, are they worth anything?
    one a large fauna map of Australia and one flora and one seashell as per above.

  • I’m in the process of collecting all of the cards and their albums. I’m thinking of creating a Web page or blog to list them all (numbers, names, maybe pictures). As I seek the last two sets, I’m considering the posters. Thankyou for writing about them. There’s so little info.

  • Hi. I have some of these posters.
    I am not sure if the would be of interest to anyone?

  • So far I have all of the cards and albums, including the rare ‘Pets’ album. Several kids ‘passports’ (kids got them stamped at Shell stations to log trips). Most, if not all of those colored posters. Several colouring-in pages for kids (line drawings of the posters). Maps and pamphlets. Several pages from old magazines of original advertisements of this campaign. The last thing I thought I had to have was that “Ask Here: Cards For Kids” poster. But it seems that there might have been more than just that one design. I have one of the others arriving soon.

    That should make my collection as close to complete as possible. I will keep putting it onto computer and aim to have a Web page with it all on by year’s end.

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