I was going to try and say something clever about this auction that’s coming up at Bloomsbury/Dreweatts first thing tomorrow, but there isn’t really much point. Because what’s coming up – at least the interesting part of it – is a collection of posters designed by Clifford and Rosemary Ellis, and almost every single one of them is a gem.
One or two of their series of different bird habitats for London Transport appear relatively often at auction.
But this one is almost entirely new to me, and it’s the best one of all.
Of course this has the entirely predictable results that a) I want it and b) it’s too expensive to buy because everyone else is likely to feel the same.
Also for London Transport is this slightly odder image. I’m not entirely sure what it wants me to do, and I definitely don’t know where it’s suggesting I go. Except possibly mad.
Only slightly less peculiar is this variation on the ‘Shop Early’ posters which suggests that we should shop earlier in the month. Why? Can anyone explain?
Lovely though they are on their own, the LT posters are just a small slice of what’s on offer. You could, for example get yourself almost an entire set of Empire Marketing Board posters. Here are just two of the five, to give you the idea.
I have two things to say about these posters. One is that the latter one is described in the auction catalogue as ‘The Market Stall’ when it is clearly a County Show, and as these are some of my favourite things in the world I will not be gainsaid on that. Secondly, if you want more info about how the full set fitted together on a billboard, I’ve posted about it not once but twice; and if you’re worried about the ethics of Empire promotion – although these are fairly inoffensive examples – you can find my thoughts here.
That’s not the end of it either. The Ellises designed posters for Shell, and these are in the auction too.
Along with some more Shell posters.
Although just for a change there is a – rather wonderful – BP poster as well.
With a final garnish of GPO posters too, including this one.
Which I have been forced to mention in despatches before, on account of its slightly deranged title. Why indeed are we not on the telephone. Except we are.
Clearly I owe the Ellises a proper blog post of their own, and even more now that I have discovered – thanks to a newspaper article about this auction – that they came from Bath, just up the road from Crownfolio HQ. Here they are in Lansdown, being artists in 1937.
They’re sitting amongst their work for the British Pavilion at the 1937 Paris Exposition. I will come back to this, I promise.