Look Mummy – posters!

We’ve considered Posterconnection before – they offer vast quantlties of posters on eBay, generally for quite a high price.  All of which means that I’m not suggesting that you buy either of these two, but simply that you might want to take a look at them.

The first is by Hans Unger, but not for one of his usual clients like London Transport.  In fact, I’ve never heard of British United Airways before.  But the poster is lovely.

HAns Unger travel poster British United Airlines to Holland

Yours for £378.12.  Precisely.

The second is even more interesting.  Its’s by Derrick Hass, who has been mentioned in despatches on here more than once, but whose poster designs don’t come up that often.

Derrick Hass Cooks travel poster from poster connection

The listing says it dates from 1954, and who am I to doubt them, because it is a classic bit of early 1950s design.  Yours, however, for nigh on £500.

But it’s probably worth drawing your attention to the fact that, if you look at PosterConnections completed listings, that almost none of their sales go for the asking price, but instead for some unspecified ‘Best Offer’.  So it might be worth a punt.

Elsewhere on eBay, there is further evidence that it is turning into a proper market place for proper vintage posters.  Take a look at these pair, for example, both being sold by the same seller (and apparently with the same lumps of chewing gum holding the corners down).

Shell petrol cheetahs the quick starting pair poster

Shell spring is here vintage poster

Both posters have reached almost £300 with a few days ago, which does seem to suggest that they will get as good a price as they would in any auction.

What’s interesting about these two,  though, is that they are both a bit battered around the edges; they’re not the kind of posters, perhaps, that Christies would accept.  So is this just the poster market spreading out to eBay, or is it something subtly different emerging, a place where the B+ posters now go.  If anyone knows what these would fetch in top condition, do say, as it will help  me work out what I think.

On a similar note, and for those who like early infographics, this London Transport poster by Aldo Cosomati is also up for auction.

1927 London Transport Poster Aldo Cosomati

Although with a starting price of £199, it remains to be seen how well it will do.  By way of comparison, the Shell posters had a starting price of £100 and have now shot away.  Sometimes you need to be brave with starting prices on eBay in order to reap the reward.  I have no idea why that works, but it does.

Back in the world of things that I am more likely to afford, there are also some interesting items.  We would bid on this Lander, for example, were it not for the fact that we’ve got one already.

R M Lander British Railways Plymouth poster

Although with a starting price of £90, perhaps we wouldn’t.  The colours are fantastic though.

And finally, despite the title of the listing, this coach poster isn’t by Daphne Padden but Studio Seven.

Studio Seven Bristol Omnibus coach poster

Something they do admit in the text, but even so it’s a bit cheeky.  And I wouldn’t have thought Daphne Padden gets that many searches on eBay, but then I might be wrong.  That starts at £65, but has (for what reason I do not know) been backed onto linen so who knows what it’s worth really?  Still, it’s an auction, so we can all find out in due course.

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Hard stuff

Back when we bought all the posters and artworks from Daphne Padden’s estate sale, there was one other lot we also bought and which I’ve never mentioned on here before now.  Admittedly, this is mainly because they’ve spent a good part of that time in storage, but at last, for your Friday delectation, here they are.

Daphne Padden cat enamel

The lot was a selection of enamels designed  and made by Daphne Padden herself, and they’re rather wonderful, aren’t they?

Daphne Padden enamel of an owl

There were many more than this in the lot but that box is still in storage I’m afraid – these are just a few of our favourites that were out on display and so got packed somewhere else.

Daphne Padden design for an enamel bird

What I love is that even working in a very different medium, and one with considerable constraints as to line and shading, she still produced a set of designs that could only ever be hers.

Daphne padden enamel of a girl and bird

 

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Is it really efficient?

On we must go with the endless stream of auctions.  Today it is Onslows, which takes place on Friday.  What can I tell you about it?

Well the first thing that will strike you as you browse through the catalogue is precisely what a tonnage of Shell posters they have – and there are more too, tucked away at the end.

Keith Grant Somerset Shell Educational poster Wiltshire
Keith Grant, est. £100-150

I really must take a look at what these actually sell for, because the higher estimates of £100-150 do always strike me as slightly fanciful, but then a few always manage to reach that.  Certainly,  I don’t see them going as high at other auctions or on eBay.  Watch this space and I will report back.

That would, however, be an utterly reasonable price to pay for these Tristram Hillier items, which have the same estimate.  I’ve written about them before but, frankly, any excuse.

Tristram HIllier Shell guide to fossils educational poster

Tristram Hiller shell guide to minerals educational poster

What I haven’t ever written about properly, however, are the Shell educational posters themselves.  Must do that one of these days.

Meanwhile back at Onslows, the other thing that will strike you about the auction is a job lot of GPO posters, some being sold singly, some as individual lots.

1950 Harry stevens air mail GPO poster
Harry Stevens, 1950, est. £70-100

Sams 1954 minimum 4d letter rate GPO poster
Sams, 1954, est. £60-80

Now I happen to know the story behind these posters, and it’s one to make any archivist’s hair curl.  Back in the early 1980s, the Royal Mail in their Mount Pleasant HQ were having a sort out.  Sensibly, they decided that two copies of each of the posters they had produced should go to an archive – these are the ones which the BPMA have now.  Rather more bogglingly, they put the rest in a skip.  The seller rescued a selection that he liked.  Some were sold at Bloomsbury in March, this is another batch.

1950 Martin Aitchison Your Letterbox is it really efficient ?, GPO poster
Martin Aitcheson, 1950, est. £40-50

Other than that, the other two interesting items are two rather lovely sets of proofs, one by Barnett Friedman and the other by Edward Ardizzone.

Barnett Freedman (1901-1958) Wuthering Heights (16 plates) , Jane Eyre (16 plates) and Anna Karenina (16 plates), proof uncut lithograph sheets for illustrations from Heritage Press NY 1952,
Barnett Friedman, 1952, est. £200-300

Edward Ardizonne (1900-1979) lithograph proof sheets for Sinbad, Fairground Freak Show and WW2 sentry
Edward Ardizzone, est. £30-50.

I like them a lot, but what you’d actually do with them I’m not entirely sure.

Meanwhile the rest of what is on offer is the usual mix of foreign stuff that I am going to ignore, railway and travel posters, and, as ever, a fair selection of World War Two Home Front posters.

This is probably the stand-out railway poster for me.

Frank Newbould (1887-1951) Scarborough, original poster printed for LNER poster by Waterlow c. 1930
Frank Newbould, 1930, est. £700-1,000

Although, as even a cursory flick through this blog would reveal, I am always a sucker for this series.

L A Wilcox (Lesley Arthur 1904-1982) Cornwall Travel by Train, original poster printed for BR(WR) by Jordison 1960 BR poster
L A Wilcox, 1960, est. £600-700

The main event in the travel poster section, at least if you are me, is a stream of these black and white British travel posters.  A couple are quite interestingly early.

Brighton travel poster 1938
Anonymous, 1938, est. £50-70

The vast majority are not.

Walter Scott's Britain Warwick - The Castle, original sepia photographic poster printed for The Travel Association circa 1948 poster
Anonymous, c. 1948, est. £50-70.

While this in no way constitutes a recommendation to buy one, these posters are quite interesting as historical artefacts.  Take a look at the date: it’s just after the war has ended, and Britain is desperate to pay back the war loans.  And one of the ways to do that, is of course American tourist dollars; so these posters wing their way over to the States to try and persuade our American cousins to come over here.  But I often wonder just how well they worked.  Because America is sleek, glossy and most of all technicolour, but Britain is broke.  So our posters come in black and white and are printed on the cheapest, thinnest paper imaginable.

Of course none of this explains why the 1938 poster is equally as shoddy.  Perhaps the British Travel and Tourist Association were just cheapskates, all the time.

The reason I’ve thought about these posters so much is that Mr Crownfolio and I, some years ago, bought a whole roll of these posters from America for about £30.  We tried to sell a couple on eBay but basically got laughed at.  But then, a couple of years later we tried again, and the prices started rising – so much so that one of the last ones went for over £100.  And now they are at Onslows, well I never.

In the war section, meanwhile, this is probably the most classic poster.

Norman Wilson (dates unknown) Dig for Victory, original WW2 poster printed for HMSO by Chromoworks c.1940 propaganda poster
Norman Wilkinson, 1940, est. £300-400.

While this is my favourite.

Coughs & Sneezes Spread Diseases, original WW2 Home Front poster printed for HMSO by Chromoworks circa 1940
Anonymous, 1940, est. £40-50

Just look at the difference in prices, I am clearly in a minority of one on this.

For a change, there aren’t that many London Transport posters in there, but it’s worth persevering through the whole catalogue, because a pair of gems, both by Abram Games, are tucked away at the end.

Abram Games london zoo lovely poster
Abram Games, 1976, est. £100-150

Abram Games (1914-1996) London Transport Conducted Tours, original poster printed by Waterlow 1950 London Transport poster
Abram Games, 1950, est. £400-500.

In fact that poster above is the very last one in the sale.  And probably one of the best.   But it’s an exception, and I am slightly worried by the general lack of good posters like that from the Onslows sale.  Because with Christies having got so expensive, there’s a real need for an auction house selling the stuff that, well, Christies used to – the Games, the Eckersleys and the Royston Coopers to start with, never mind the Daphne Paddens.  But they aren’t appearing here – so where have they gone?  They haven’t entirely migrated to the railwayana auctions, so where have they all gone?  Do any of you know, because I certainly don’t. And I’d like to.

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Second Class Lentils

Every so often I complain that Mr Crownfolio and I haven’t bought anything for ages, but I always forget that these things come in waves.  And this week just such a wave has come crashing in to shore.

R M Lander Morecambe British Railways poster

I’ve already mentioned the Morecambe poster, but the main interest is two lots of posters that were up for sale at a general auction in Cambridgeshire.  Lot one consisted of this Eckersley/Lombers masterpiece from the early years of WW2.

eckersley lombers green vegetables keep you fit world war two propaganda food poster

Twice.

Eckersley Lombers Green Vegetables Keep you Fit vintage World war two propaganda poster

Which is quite surprising, as I’ve only been able to track it down at auction once before (Onslows, 2004, fact fans).  So I think it’s probably fairly rare.  The second one clearly needs a bit of tlc, but I think it will be worth it.

The second lot was more of a rag-bag.  People can do terrible things to posters sometimes, just look at what has happened to this Lewitt-Him Vegetabull.

Lewitt-Him Vegetabull propaganda poster world war two cut down

But the two other posters that always, it seems, come together with it – a second Lewitt Him and James Fitton’s Turn Over a New Leaf are untampered with, I’m pleased to say.

Lewitt HIm The effects of over-cooking and keeping hot vintage world war two food poster

I’m assuming that they always end up in a group of three because they’re all about the same date, but maybe it’s because they’re all very good pieces of design which appeal to a certain sort of person.  Like me, for example.

James Fitton Turn Over a New Leaf world war two propaganda food poster

We now have three copies of the James Fitton, which even I can see is probably too many, and a bit like hoarding food in an emergency.

A couple of the other posters have been mounted on board.  In the case of this militant bread poster, that’s a bit of a shame.

Saving Bread poster vintage world war two propaganda

Funnily enough I don’t feel too much sorrow over the state of this one.

Food Groups vintage ww2 propaganda poster

Pleasingly, there were some other wartime posters in the lot which hadn’t seen quite so much service.  Whoever collected them clearly had a thing about cod liver oil.

Cod Liver Oil storks vintage world war two propaganda poster ministry of food

Jimmy's cod liver oil vintage world war two propaganda poster ministry of food HMSO

I also rather like this one, although interestingly it doesn’t have all of the usual HMSO/Ministry of Fuel information printed along the bottom.

Mr Therm save gas poster world war two

I wonder if this was actually issued by the gas companies themselves, especially as it’s using their trademark in the form of Mr Therm.  But with nothing written on the poster, that can only ever be a theory.

This, meanwhile, is not quite as exciting.

Mending taps world war two poster

But I’ve saved you the oddest poster for last.  It’s probably also the least valuable, because it’s hand made, collaged out of mostly bits of I don’t know what stuck onto card.

handmade world war two poster

Except, strange to relate, we do know where some of the bits came from, as we’ve had this 1930s poster for a while now.

1930s health poster

Full marks for recyling there.

Clearly we now have far too many posters, and some of these are going to have to be sold.  But they’re not posh enough for Christies, which means I really don’t know where they should go.  This is a problem that I will be returning to next week.  But if in the meantime you have any thoughts on the matter, please do put them in the box below.

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Correct Selling

couple of years ago now, I wrote a long piece on here about why some kinds of poster seem to survive in greater quantities than others.  In short, the argument was that where posters do survive in large numbers, this tends to be because the institutions concerned – London Transport, the railway companies and Shell – had a system for selling them to the public.

Vintage Shell poster lord berners 1936

But I said at the time, that post was very much a work in progress.  Now things have moved on a bit, because Rik Shepherd has been in contact through both comments and email with some additional information about how GPO posters were also sold.  And very interesting it is too.

John Minton Iwerne Minster GPO Poster

The reason for this is that Mr Shepherd senior, his father, was, in the best possible way, a bit of a chancer, something probably best explained by his son.

Dad did have a habit of writing to organisations on the offchance that they wanted to give/sell him something – the request for part of London Road station when it was turning into Piccadilly failed, the request for tickets from the closing Mumbles railway yielded a destination blind from one of their trams, and we’ve got a stack of timetables and promo brochures from oodles of US railroad companies.

One of the organisations that he regularly bothered was the GPO, as Rik explained when he commented on the original blog post.

If I’d known there was interest in cut-down & framed posters in-situ, I’d have taken pictures of my parents bedroom before we started clearing the house.

They had trimmed and framed copies of the GPO “Use Your Correct Address” posters of Eilean Donan (John Minton) and Brookland (David Knight) on the wall for at least the last decade. We’ve also found a trimmed copy of Minton’s Iwerne Abbey, a trimmed and framed Minton Greenwich which I vaguely remember being on the walls in the 60s & 70s, and what we think is a trimmed David Knight Polruan.

John Minton GPO poster Eilean Donan Castle 1957

Dad seems to have got the Minton posters in April 1957 by writing to the Mount Pleasant offices. The three cost 3s 0d in total (1/6d for Iwerne, 1s for Greenwich and 6d for Eilean Donan) and were sent out with a note from a Mr R. Weeber giving the prices and the rather polite request “Perhaps you will kindly forward a remittance for 3s.0d. in due course.”

What’s even better is that Mr Shepherd Sr also kept the correspondence.

(I’ve put these images in quite big, so just click on them if you want to read the text properly)

GPO letter about poster ordering 1957

I love the fact that they’re only asking for payment after the posters have been sent out.  Those were the days.

Mr Shepherd senior didn’t give up at with that, though.  Go forward ten years, and he is once more trying to order some posters from the GPO.

Letter from GPO re posters

But as you can see, times have changed, and the GPO now have an order form available – and what’s more, here it is.

GPO poster order form 1967

I would like to order all of those please, with a particular emphasis on the last one which is new to me and splendidly moody.

Avebury GPO poster Garrick Palmer

And I used to live there too.

Now all of this would be fascinating enough on its own.  But what makes all of this even more important is that there doesn’t seem to have been many records of this kept elsewhere (a fact that possibly we could have guessed from the slightly ad-hoc nature of that order form).

I asked Anna Flood, archivist at the British Postal Museum and Archive, what they knew about the poster selling, and she couldn’t find anything about this in the books or in their records.  Which is rather exciting really, as it means that Quad Royal has – thanks to Rik Shepherd – managed to uncover a brand new historical fact here.  I’m quite chuffed.

The only reference Anna could find in their archives is one which doesn’t shed any light on Mr Shepherd’s poster buying, but does stretch the timescale back quite a bit, in fact to this series of posters.

HS Williamson air mails croydon GPO poster

POST 33/4722 – Publicity: supply to school, posters, leaflets, first issue – 1934

Re the H.S. Williamson series of posters:

–          PRD 88 – Relays carrying the King’s messages, 1482

–          PRD 89 – Mails for the Packets arriving at Falmouth, 1833

–          PRD 90 – Loading mails at the docks in London, 1934

–          PRD 91 – Loading air mails for the Empire, Croydon 1934

‘It is likely that the issue of these posters [to schools] will give rise to further demands for them….c) from private individuals, who want one or more of the posters for nursery or other house decoration’………’As regards c), posters will be sold, so far as stocks permit, at the following prices, to include packing and postage:- Single posters 1s each. Set of four posters 3s.’…..’Persons desiring to buy posters should be advised to write to the Controller, Post Office Stores Department, Mount Pleasant Depot, EC1, [Public Relations Department, GPO, London, EC1 – crossed out] specifying the title of the poster or posters they desire to buy and enclosing a postal order for the necessary amount.’ 13th November, 1934, Public Relations Department.

A later memo states ‘ copies may be obtained on personal application to the Public Relations Department, Armour House, 40 St Martins-le-Grand, London, EC1’. Dated 28/11/34.

H S WIlliamson Kings Relays GPO poster 1934

And she comments,

So indeed, as early as 1934 the Post Office PRD was allowing members of the public to purchase GPO posters (maybe because of the costs involved in producing runs of posters, hence they didn’t want the expenditure to go to waste, and maybe also because the PO was intent in raising its public profile at the time, hence the ‘schools’ campaign). However, it may have taken a while for the process to become formalised, with the issue of ‘for sale’ lists and order forms, such as those Rik Shepherd has.

I don’t think we’re in a position to write an entire thesis on GPO poster survival from these small scraps of information.  But what this does show is that, although they may not have advertised the fact, the GPO did sell posters to private individuals and this is most likely the way that GPO posters, in their smaller numbers survive today.

It’s also interesting to note that the posters that the GPO thought that people were interested in buying in 1967 (as shown on the order form) and indeed the posters that Mr Shepherd was actually interested in buying in 1957, were the ‘artistic’ ones, i.e. the ones in which a fine artist had been commissioned to create a painting which was then turned into a poster.  Because in 1957, the GPO was also producing posters like these:

Tom Eckersley properly packed parcels please dog

Huveneers post early poster GPO 1957

Admittedly they weren’t quite scaling the same graphic heights in 1967, but there was still Daphne Padden and Kenneth Bromfield on show in your local post office.

Daphne Padden greetings stamp 4d vintage GPO poster

Kenneth Bromfield GPO poster tv license

But these weren’t the posters that people were meant to buy or wanted to buy.  So fewer of these survive than of the ‘artistic’ ones.  A quick trawl through Onslows’ archives does seem to support this theory, as many more of the painterly posters seem to come up for auction than the more graphic ones.  Which is of course a great shame, as it’s the graphic design that I at least would rather be buying nowadays.  But I can’t really blame the public for buying what they liked at the time.  At least I don’t think I can.

That’s not the important point though, I’m still very happy that we’ve managed to find another small piece of the jigsaw and discover how a few more posters survived.  So if anyone else out there has something that they think might be interesting, please do get in touch.  You never know, it might be a piece of information that no one has known until now.

Oh, and GPO correspondence wasn’t all that Mr Shepherd kept – more on his archive next week.

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Blackpool, camels and shandy

I’m posting like fury this week to try and catch up with all the auctions that are going on.  Although this post is in fact about a couple of auctions that have already happened, but are still worth noting.

The first of these is the recent GWRA auction, where we had been hoping to get this Daphne Padden, but were outbid and it went for £280.

Daphen Padden Lancashire coast British Railways psoter

I don’t think we’ve seen that one before ever, so I am a bit sad about that.  We also failed to buy this Lander too.

Royal Mail Boats Lander poster

Although as it went for just £140 you may deduce that we weren’t trying that hard.

We did, however get this Lander, which I am rather pleased about.

Morecambe British Railways poster RM Lander

Again, it’s not one that you see very often (something I have mentioned on here before now).  But it’s a brilliant piece of what I believe people now refer to as ‘mid-century’ and will look rather good framed.

The auction was chock-full of posters including, interestingly, another two for Blackpool – as far as GWRA knows, both anonymous.

Blackpool Britsh Railways poster anonymous

blackpool2

The first one went for £300, the second for a whopping £700, which was almost the record for the entire sale.  The actual top price, though was £750, which was paid for this.

GWR-Cambrian

With this Fred Taylor coming a close second at £720.

lincoln-taylor

But if you just wanted a nice pictorial seaside poster, quite possibly with a bit of kitsch in it, and you wanted to pay £200-300, you would have been spoiled for choice.  Here’s just one of the dozens.

llandudno

That went for £240, and for ten pounds less you could have had yourself another Daphne Padden as well.

Daphne Padden isle of Man BRitish railways poster

I do like that cat.

But there were a few bargains here and there, at least if you like Peterborough.

Peterborough

Just eighty of your pounds.

There are even one or two bargains still to be had as well.  This rather striking Bromfield failed to sell, and is now on offer with a reserve of just £50.

bromfield - hampshire

Surely that must have some midcentury appeal somewhere; I’m sure it would go for more than that on eBay.

Also passed and worthy of note is the recent Christies sale, which I did manage to blog about beforehand.

Apart from the obvious conclusion that expensive posters are expensive, what has most caused me to raise an eyebrow here is the price of the little bus posters.  Several, like this Anna Zinkeisen, went for more than a thousand pounds.

Anna Katrina Zinkeisen (1901-1976) WIMBLEDON TENNIS lithograph in colours, 1934

Although interestingly, this Herry Perry, which had an estimate of £1000-1,500, only fetched £875.  And not everything sold either, although I haven’t had the time to do the forensics and find out exactly what.

Herry (Heather) Perry (1893-1962) BOAT RACE lithograph in colours, 1935

All of which will make it particularly interesting to see how this Anna Zinkeisen will do on eBay.

Anna Zinkeisen bus poster motorcycle show

It’s currently at £9.99, but with 6 days to go and a reserve that hasn’t been met yet.  Watch that space.

While we are watching that eBay space, a few more things that have turned up.  This Quantas poster is mostly of interest because it is quirky, has a picture of a camel on it and is not overpriced at £39.

Quantas Camel poster from Ebay

While someone by the name of prbs1929 is also selling a job lot of coach posters at very reasonable prices.  This is my favourite.

Late holiday coach poster

This, on the other hand, does seem a bit expensive to me.

poster for Maltese shandy

Although I know nothing about the Maltese poster market and may turn out to be completely wrong about that.

Finally, I think we have a collectable in the making here.

Can safety poster

I have no idea what it is trying to tell me, but that’s part of the fun.  I think. And there are plenty more to be had if that tickles your fancy.

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