Push once

I’m finding it hard to get worked up about auctions at the moment.  This might be because I’m getting jaded, but I think it’s more that there isn’t that much of interest coming through at the moment (and if anyone has any theories as to why this might be, please do let me know in the comments box below).  Having said that, there are two auctions tomorrow (sorry!) that might be worth our attention.

The first is from Transport Auctions of London (not to be confused with London Transport Auctions who are entirely different and have an auction coming up next month).  This contains a lot of things that are not posters, so if you are after cap badges or a rather splendidly named category called ‘relics’ you are on your own.  Go and look, you might want something like this.

Push once bell from London tram

Or you might not.  Whatever you decide, there are also a small handful of posters.

1938 London Transport PANEL POSTER 'Smithfield Club Cattle Show, Royal Agricultural Hall' by 'T V Y
TYV, 1938, est. £50-75

The main theme of today seems to be posters that I own already.  The bull above comes under that heading as does this rather untypical Eckersley-Lombers.

 London Transport 1936 double-royal POSTER ''Christmas Calling'' by Tom Eckersley (1914-1997) & Eric Lombers (1914-1978)
Eckersley/Lombers, 1936, est £75-100

Unusually, most of the other posters I like are also pre-war, such as this appropriately seasonal offering.

Original 1931 London General Omnibus Co (Underground Group) double royal POSTER 'Come Out! Easter by bus'. Designed by 'Major
Major, 1931, est. £120-170

The design of this poster is less striking, but I am intrigued by the premise.  Why don’t we have real cows in the ticket halls of stations now?

Original 1935 London Transport double-royal poster 'Model Dairy in the Ticket Hall, Charing Cross Station'. The exhibition was arranged by the Milk Marketing Board which had been formed just two years earlier.
Anonymous, 1935, est. £60-80

Meanwhile at GW Railwayana there are also posters.  Rather greedily, we have two copies of this one, so we won’t be competing if any of you are after it, which you should be.

Poster - 'Mablethorpe - Trusthorpe and Sutton On Sea' by Tom Eckersley (1959) double royal 25in x 40in. Depicts a smiling cartoon girl half buried in the sand. Published by British Railways Eastern Region

There are also American posters, and also a lot of pastel-tinted scenic views which I am mostly going to ignore.

This seaside poster, however, is great, although I know nothing about Armengol whatsoever.  However a brief google convinces me that he is very interesting indeed, so we’ll return to him another day.

Poster British Railways 'Come To Coney Beach, Porthcawl - Britain's Brightest Pleasure Beach' by Mario Armengol 1952, double royal 25in x 50in. Depicts a happy holidaymaker riding the carousel with the beach beyond
Mario Armengol, 1952.

No estimates, sadly, because that’s how railwayana works, so your guess is as good as mine, and quite probably better.  This one usually goes quite cheap though, can’t think why.

Poster British Railways 'Stratford-on-Avon - The Heart of Shakespeare's England' by Frank Newbold circa 1950, quad royal 40in x 50in
Frank Newbould, 1950

Of the views, this is probably the boldest and most striking.

Poster GWR 'Somerset - Holiday Tickets at Reduced Fares' by D. Irwin Brown 1932, double royal 25in x 40in.
D. Irwin Brown, 1932.

Although there are a couple of Lander maps which might put up a good fight too.

Poster British Railways 'Dorset' by Lander double royal 25in x 40in. Map image of the county showing places of interest with a numbered key below. Published by the Southern Region of British Railways

Even on something as workaday as a map, he never fails to use brilliant contrast.  Kent is on offer too if you happen to live there.

Beyond that it all gets a bit patchy.  There are a set of modern (ish) posters expressing British Rail through the medium of station roofs, which I admire rather than actually like.  This one’s Newcastle.

Poster 'Newcastle' by Brendan Neiland, double royal 25in x 40in. Produced for the Inter City circa 1991
Brendan Neiland, 1991

If it’s modernity you’re after, I think this is doing a much better job.

Poster British Railways 'Service To Industry' by Kenneth Leech circa1960, double royal 25in x 40in. Depicts a busy industrial scene from the North East and shows a BR Class 28 locomotive on a freight train
Kenneth Leech, 1960

That’s a BR Class 28 locomotive on a freight train, for those of you who care about these things.  I can’t quite manage to.  I think he’s the same Leech who designed this very different poster only a few years before and which is also in the auction.

BR Poster `Pembrokeshire - Travel by Train` by Leech, quad royal size 50in x 40in. Typical beach scene around Saundersfoot/Tenby area showing families and children.

I have written about the numbers of people on a beach before, but I’ve got more to add to that one of these days.  For now we’ll just note that, travelling by train, you are unlikely ever to arrive at such an empty beach.  Unless it’s actually February.

There are also, as seems to be customary in railwayana auctions these days, a smattering of wartime propaganda posters.  This one is the most interesting, a statement which tells you everything you need to know about the rest.

Poster WWII 'You Are In The Battle For Fuel 1940', 29.5in x 19.5in. Published by the Ministry of Power.

Some of the best design on offer in fact comes in the form of carriage prints rather than posters.  This is battered but glorious, not just for its design but also the evocation of an entirely disappeared world of railway hotels.  I was going to say elegant railway hotels, but I’m not certain that the Royal at Grimsby Docks would qualify.

LNER Carriage Print 'Hotels Owned By The LNER' In an original type glazed frame 20in x 10in.

The catalogue only tells me that it’s rare, so if anyone can add any more to that, please do.

This Bromfield is a version of a poster, but none the less pleasing for that.

Carriage Print 'Golden Arrow To Paris - Daily From London Victoria Station In Pullman Comfort', by Ken Broomfield. In original Southern Railway glazed frame and measuring 27in x 11in

It’s probably easier to find space for on a wall too. Hmm, best I don’t think about that too hard…

  • I wonder if in the past we would have had to travel to get to auctions and now we see them on the Net, it makes for a ‘demand’ curve. I’ve certainly see it happen elsewhere – ebay and Abebooks. Having watched for very specific artists since 1995 (yes that long!) I’m glad I scooped up as much as I could as now the sources are drying up. The law of diminishing returns – you have to put more effort in to get less out! And prices, when things appear, are not necessarily as high as they were.
    I guess that over time sources go to ground (collectors get older; children don’t know a thing’s worth) and we therefore see less.
    What were your thoughts?

  • The ‘quicker way to comfort’ carriage panel poster is interesting as I’ve a 1948 British Railways booklet that uses the same artwork – obviously carrying on with the LNER work! I’ll dig the booklet out and see if it has any further clues as to artist or origin.

  • I really don’t know what’s going on. I’m sure that it’s something like what you describe, with a good dash of changing taste to boot. But if the sources are drying up, then why are prices falling? Does anyone know?

    And yes, I’d love to see that booklet if it has any more clues!

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