Looking a gift book in the mouth

A short Barbara Jones announcement for all of you who, like me, think that she deserves more recognition.  At last it seems to be happening.  Not only is the Black Eyes and Lemonade exhibition running at the Whitechapel until September, but now Jennings Fine Art are holding a selling exhibition of her work at the start of next month.  Including lovely things like this.

Barbara Jones gift book artwork neil jennings

It even comes with a caption:

Barbara JonesThe Gift Book

Watercolour and pen & ink, 1964. Original artwork for the front and rear covers of the book co-written with Isobel English. Extensively annotated by the artist. Reference: Artmonsky A6, illustrated p.129.

Provenance: The artist’s studio. 

I have no idea what it will cost, mind you.  Annoyingly, I can only find a teeny-tiny image of what the finished product looked like .

Barbara Jones gift book cover

This comes from the very useful Barbara Jones page at Ash Rare Books, which, by some oversight, I don’t think I’ve pointed out before.

There are more nice things in the exhibition too.  Here’s another.

Barbara Jones watercolour of horse on beach

 Seaside Pony & Cart

Watercolour.  Studio stamp verso.  Provenance: The artist’s studio.

James Russell has also posted, very interestingly, about Barbara Jones.  Mostly I will let you go and read it yourself, but there are two interesting facts in it that are worth repeating.

One is that Little Toller books are publishing a new edition of her book The Unsophisticated Arts, which you can read about here.  To my consternation, it includes additional drawings, ephemera and other material from her studio, which means that we’re going to have to buy it, despite having an original copy already.

The other, related fact is that her studio is, apparently, still extant.

Her studio has remained largely untouched since her death; most of the artwork has gone, but her sketchbooks and ephemera remain.  We spent hundreds of hours cleaning up the images and making them good for publication. it was a joy to work on because you look so closely at every single image and you see each page in a new way.

I’m boggled.  How has it survived and who is looking after it?  More to the point, I want to go and see it.  Now.

The selling exhibition, meanwhile, is from 5-9 and 12-17 June at the Peggy Gay Gallery, Burgh House, Hampstead.  Apparently Barbara Jones’s studio looked out onto Burgh House.

Barbara Jones sketch

 Mural Design for the Cake House, St James’s Park

A series of watercolour, gouache, pencil and pen & ink drawings, c.1969.  The New Cake House was opened by Mrs. Harold Wilson on 23/2/70.  The mural, constructed in ceramic tiles by Richard Parkinson, depicts the George III Jubilee celebrations held in the park in 1840.  We would like to thank Anthony Raymond and English Heritage for their assistance in cataloguing this work.  Provenance:  The artist’s studio.

Reference: Artmonsky pp.109-110; English Heritage Archive. (please note that this is only one drawing from the series)

I know I said that she deserves more recognition so I ought to be pleased about this, and for the most I am.  But at the same time, a small part of me minds that someone who I feel I stumbled upon by accident, along with a few others, is now becoming mainstream.  Still, I am sure Barbara Jones herself would have been very pleased, she was a fan of the popular after all.  So I will try to be pleased as well.

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Setting off

Small Crownfolio has just started doing sets in maths.  Turns out it’s going to come in quite handy on here too, because it’s pretty much the only way I can find to get a handle on the next Christies poster sale, which is bearing down on us like a juggernaut upon a hedgehog (translation, it’s on Thursday this week).

There are a few sets, as ever, which are outside the purview of this blog, like the set of foreign posters.

René Gruau (Renato de Zavagli, 1909-2004)  AIR FRANCE, FRENCH RIVIERA  silkscreen and lithograph in colours, 1963
Rene Gruau, 1963, est. £800-1,200

More surprisingly, there is also the set of film posters.

Saul Bass (1927-1996) VERTIGO 1958
Saul Bass, 1958, est. £4,000-6,000

What does it mean that the poster and film poster sales are combined?  Are the two worlds starting to come together because they are all being bought for their design?  Or does it mean that each sale on its own couldn’t bring in enough lots to be worth running?  Or am I over-interpreting everything hugely?

Amongst the posters that I am prepared to be interested in, most of the usual suspects are present.

Theyre Lee-Elliot (1903-1988) WINGS OVER EUROPE, BRITISH AIRWAYS lithograph in colours, 1946
Theyre Lee-Elliott, 1946, est. £700-900

Francis Bernard (1900-1979)  AIR ORIENT  lithograph in colours, 1932
Francis Bernard, 1932, est. £4,000-6,000

Edmond Vaughan (1906-1996) SOUTH FOR WINTER SUNSHINE lithograph in colours, 1932
Edmond Vaughan, 1932, est. £1,200-1,800

David Klein, 1960, est. £800-1,200

Set of posters that Crownfolio has seen before at very many auctions = {airline posters, railway posters, nice posters by David Klein}

But there are other more unexpected aggregations too.  How about the set of posters with posh people on them?

Harry Tittensor (1887-1942)  HARROGATE  lithograph in colours, 1941
Harry Tittensor, 1941, est. £1,000-1,500

Frank Newbould (1887-1951) EDINBURGH, 'MONS MEG' lithograph in colours, 1935
Frank Newbould, 1935, est. £3,000-5,000

Charles Mozley (1914-1991) THESE PEOPLE USE SHELL, BLONDES AND BRUNETTES lithograph in colours, 1939
Charles Mozley, 1939, est. £800-1,200

George Sheringham (1884-1937) UP RIVER lithograph in colours, 1926
George Sheringham, 1926, est. £1,000-1,500

It’s quite a big set once you start looking fot them.  And that’s not even including the  somewhat related set of people doing posh sports.

Anna Katrina Zinkeisen (1901-1976)  WIMBLEDON TENNIS  lithograph in colours, 1934
Anna Zinkeisen, 1934, est. £700-900

Herry (Heather) Perry (1893-1962)  BOAT RACE  lithograph in colours, 1935
Herry Perry, 1935, est. £1,000-1,500

Davies HEAD OF THE RIVER RACE lithograph in colours, 1939
Davies, 1939, est. £700-900

As you may be able to guess from the last few images, there is also a further interesting set, which is the set of small London Transport bus posters.  The cardinality of this set is nineteen, which is nineteen more than you usually get in a Christies sale or indeed almost anywhere else.  I wonder whether this is one person’s collection?

Andre Edouard Marty (1882-1974)  BLUEBELL TIME  lithograph in colours, 1933
Andre Marty, 1933, est. £1,000-1,500

Mostly this set overlaps with the set of sporting posters, but there are a few rather pleasing exceptions.

Paul Nash (1888-1946) BRITISH INDUSTRIES FAIR lithograph in colours, 1935
Paul Nash, 1935, est. £1,000-1,500

Clifford (1907-1985) & Rosemary (1910-1998) Ellis GIANT PANDA lithograph in colours, 1939
Clifford and Rosemary Ellis, 1939, est. £800-1,200

Anna Katrina Zinkeisen (1901-1976) R.A.F. DISPLAY, COLINDALE lithograph in colours, 1934
Anna Zinkeisen, 1934, est. £700-900

All of them, whatever the subject, give me that same sense of monetary vertigo, because those estimates mean a lot of money for a very small piece of paper.  Each one is just 25 x 31cm, which is not very big at all.

Tom Eckersley (1914-1997) & Eric Lombers (1914-1978)  RUGBY LEAGUE FINAL  lithograph in colours, 1936
Eckersley Lombers, 1936, est. £1,000-1,500

Of course there are also plenty of things which don’t fit into tidy sets, like this Olympic Abram Games which I can say with some confidence that I’ve never seen before.

Abram Games (1914-1996)  FLY BEA, OLYMPIC GAMES LONDON  lithograph in colours, 1948
Abram Games, 1948, est. £2,000-3,000

This Frank Sherwin is also interesting, at least to me, because I posted about the original painting not so long ago and now here is the poster in a sale.

Frank Sherwin (1896-1985)  KENT - THE GARDEN OF ENGLAND
Frank Sherwin, est. £1,000-1,500

I still like it, but not enough to buy it.

There’s also a single Empire Marketing Board poster.

Charles Pears (1873-1958)  Gibraltar, The Empire Marketing Board  offset lithograph in colours, c.1928
Charles Pears, 1928, est. £1,500-2,000

Now this came up recently, somewhere, and I’m wondering whether it might be the very same poster.  Except I can’t remember how or where.  Can anyone enlighten me?

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That’s Shell, that was

Look at this picture, which has just come up for sale on eBay.

Shell Corner with hoardings by McKNight Kauffer

Now obviously no one is going to buy it, and not only because it’s on offer for the frankly ridiculous price of £23.61, but more importantly because it is being sold by people who butcher books and sell the plates.  Ought to be a crime, but isn’t.

However, their evil doings have, this time, brought up something which I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.  What the picture shows is the building of Shell Corner on Kingsway, in 1920 (about which I know nothing except that this isn’t Shell-Mex House).  So Shell clearly asked McKnight Kauffer to decorate their hoardings for them.  They don’t even look like standard size posters, so I’m assuming the images were specially commissioned for this location.  I only wish I could read the captions.

But it’s a reminder of one of my pet subjects, that people don’t just commission posters because they like art, or design, or want to advertise their product.  Companies are much more likely to make posters if they already own the hoardings.  This, obviously, is a slightly unusual case, but it’s none the less the same principle in operation.

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People keep sending me things.  Which is wonderful, but does every so often necessitate a whole post to catch up with them.

First off the blocks is ‘mm’, who chipped in after the recent discussion about Harry Stevens to point out these two film posters of his which have come up on eBay.

Harry Stevens Barnacle Bill film poster

I have never seen either of them before, but then that’s not entirely surprising as I continue to know very little about film posters despite the best efforts of some people to educate me.  Mind you, as these are £395 and £450 respectively, I can’t afford to develop an interest, can I?

Harry Stevens the long arm film poster

However, these are both rather good designs, and the second one, particularly, is a very different style for Stevens.  So, good to see.

But there are bargains to be had.  Neil J, knowing of my deep affection for David Klein’s now rather expensive mid-century posters, emailed to tell me about the work that David Klein did for Amtrak in 1975.  Which looks a bit like this.

David Klein florida Amtrak poster 1975

Or indeed this.


There’s quite an interesting article about the posters on Amtrak’s own website, which says that these posters were available to the public (just $6 for the entire set), which probably explains why they are quite cheap now.  Neil got his copies for a whacking $29 each.  Hurrah for that.

Elsewhere,  my now rather old post about Hans Unger continues to attract not only people who knew him, but also now a journalist who hopes to write an article about him and his work.  I very much hope that this happens.

But in the course of all this, one of the previous commenters sent me these pictures, of a mosaic and a watercolour, both given to him by Unger.  So I thought you might like to see them too.

Hans Unger London watercolour


Finally, I mentioned one of these posters a few years ago when it came up on eBay.  It was, apparently, part of a collaboration between the LEB and the Royal College of Art.  And now I have photos of all of them, thanks to yet another kind correspondent.

LEB Royal College of Art Poster Ruskin Spear

LEB Royal College of Art Poster Sam Rabin



LEB Royal College of Art Poster Geoffery Clarke


LEB Royal College of Art Poster Robin Darwin

http://www.flickr.com/photos/36844288@N00/4913224608/in/photostream/ Donald hamilton Fraser


The first four are by Ruskin Spear, Sam Rabin, Geoffery Clarke and Robin Darwin, and can be found on Mike Ashworth’s estimable photostream.  The last two are by Donald Hamilton Fraser and a name I can’t read at this resolution (looks like Leonard Rossiter, but I’m guessing it probably isn’t), and are not.  But all rather wonderful, so please do keep sending the photos, information and comments in – they are always very gratefully received.






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Designer’s eye

So here I am submerged in house renovations when there are poster auctions which I need to tell you about.  First in the line, mainly because it’s in just a few days time, is the forthcoming Swann Auction of Modernist Posters.

Now, with their being in New York, there are usually only one or two items of interest for us in a Swann auction, things like this, which although wonderful are somewhat outside the Quad Royal remit.

WALTER ALLNER (1909-2006) SUISSE ÉTÉ / WAGONS - LITS // COOK. travel poster
Allner, est. $1,500-2,000

HERBERT MATTER (1907-1984) ALL ROADS LEAD TO SWITZERLAND. 1935 travel poster
Matter, 1938, est. $2,000-3000

There are also a set of Theyre Lee-Elliott posters for the embryonic British Airways.


M26145-31 001

M26145-29 001

All three are from 1938 and estimated at $800-1,200.  While we’re on the subject of British Airways, there is also this, which is apparently a very early example of photography in an airline poster.

Anonymous, c.1938, est. $800-1,200

If only flying were so glamorous now.

The main reason we’re here, however,  is lots 185-222 which are, in the main, from the collection of F H K Henrion.  There is one piece of his own work.

FREDERIC KAY HENRION (1914-1990) ARMY EXHIBITION. 1943. propaganada poster
F H K Henrion, 1943, est. $600-900

But what’s really going on is Henrion looking at the work of his fellow designers.  So there are examples from Reginald Mount, Pat Keely, Hans Schleger, Eckersley and many others – so many that I can’t include all of the ones I like.

REGINALD MOUNT (1906-1979) BONES MAKE EXPLOSIVES. Circa 1944.  world war two poster
Reginald Mount, 1944, est. $600-900

Pat Keely, 1941, est. $400-600

Hans Schleger, 1940, est. $400-600

As well as a substantial selection of Abram Games’ designs; I don’t know if they were friends or whether Henrion was a particular admirer of his work.

ABRAM GAMES (1914-1996) RADIOLOCATION. 1941. World war two poster
Abram Games, 1941, est. $2,000-3,000

ABRAM GAMES (1914-1996) CIVIL RESETTLEMENT UNITS. 1945. army poster
Abram Games, 1945, est. $700-1,000

Abram Games, 1955, est. $2,000-3,000

I’ve even found a rare example of an Ashley Havinden poster.

Ashley Havinden, 1950, est. $400-600

Not everything is by a big name, either.  This very striking wartime image is simply by A.R., about whom I can tell you nothing.

A.R., 1941, est. $500-750

Henrion clearly never stopped looking at posters and thinking about them as long as he worked, because there are a host of later examples too.

ALAN FLETCHER (1931-2006) D & AD 21ST. 1983. poster

So I strongly suggest you go over there and take a peek, not only for the insight into a designer looking, but also because Swann’s catalogues are properly written and informative.

MANFRED REISS (1922-1987) BE COURTEOUS. Circa 1955.  ROSPA poster
Manfred Reiss, 1955, est. $400-600

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to order a skip.

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I promised a while back that’s I’d revisit the most recent Great Central Railwayana auction and see what the posters on offer actually went for.  A course of action necessitated by the fact that railwayana auctions never, it seems, publish an estimate of what they think a poster is going to sell for.  This sometimes makes me think that I must be missing out on loads of cheap bargains, passed over by railway enthusiasts who would rather look at pictures of trains, or at a push, landscapes.

Claude Buckle Somerset
Claude Buckle, sold for £300

This was probably true once upon a time, but it definitely isn’t any more.  Posters are expensive wherever you buy them, and railwayana auctions are no exception to this rule.  The only difference seems to be that posters with a railway rather than design interest might fetch more than they would do at a more general sale, which is fair enough.

A Southern Railway quad royal poster. THE FOUR BELLES RING THE SOUTHERN COAST, by Shep
Shep, sold for £1550

But landscapes and seaside scenes aren’t exactly going cheap either, with this example inexplicably (to me at least) at the top of the range.

poster, LITTLEHAMPTON, by Allinson  British railways poster
Allinson, sold for £860.

Also failing to be bargains are the more decorative posters that I like the best.

Bromfield British railway poster swanage
Bromfield, sold for £490

Gregory Brown Ullswater travel poster
F Gregory Brown, sold for £520.

Even kitsch, which only a few years ago wouldn’t have been very valuable, reaches just the same prices as it would at a general auction sale.

Bexhill British Railways poster 1950s
Anon, sold for £300

The news isn’t all bad, as a couple of odd bargains did slip through.  I very much liked this poster and said so when I looked over the auction.  But I was clearly on my own in this.

Burley Dover Southern railway
Burley, sold for £120

While the Wye Valley was also inexplicably unpopular for a pretty landscape.

Wye Valey russell British Railways poster
Russell, sold for £130

But is there anything else we can conclude beyond my initial assessment that a railwayana auction is unlikely to give you a cheap poster?  I’m not sure there is, really.  There is a very small chance that you might get a bargain, particularly if you were buying for quality of design rather than for meticulous reproduction of countryside or trains.  But equally you might not, and there appears to be no way of telling either.  Perhaps the answer is to put a low bid on anything you half-fancy and hope that it works once or twice per sale.  But that does seem a bit of a random way of buying, even to me.

If we look wider, there is another, rather terrifying conclusion to draw as well.  Because that last auction was actually pretty cheap compared to what else has been going on recently.  The most recent GW Railwayana auction was, frankly, boggling in its prices.  Here is just a small selection.

Glencoe Norman Wilkinson LMS LNER poster
Norman Wilkinson, sold for £1,200

London Norman Wilkinson LMS LNER poster
Norman Wilkinson, sold for £3,550

Terence Cuneo Day begins LMS poster
Terence Cuneo, sold for £6,100

To me, that’s all looking, well, expensive; not just beyond Onslows’ prices, but nudging Christies too.

Not everything headed out at that kind of stratospheric level though.  At this particular auction, the kitsch didn’t do quite as well, in particular this delightful poster which I took a shine to at the time.

Geoff Sadler thornton cleveleys poster british railways 1950s
Geoff Sadler, sold for £180

Although nothing went desperately cheap, and the right poster, clearly, could get the money in.

Rhyl British Railways poster leonard 1961
Leonard, sold for £440

Neither of these sales are exceptions, either. If I go back to the last couple of GCR auctions, the pattern is very much the same.

Morecambe anonymous holiday poster family on beach
Anon, sold for £520

Ayr Laurence british railways poster
Laurence, sold for £620

Frank Mason Yorkshrie Coast vintage LNER 1930s railway poster
Frank Mason, sold for £4,100

With just the very occasional bargain to keep my hopes up.

Largs Ayrshire Lander poster British Railways 1950s
Lander, sold for £50

Oh, and this, which I was very disappointed to see going cheap, mainly because we’ve got a copy.  Never mind.

Tom Purvis East Coast baby yellow railway poster

Tom Purvis, sold for £230

I could go on, but it would only pain me.

Perhaps the most striking thing about railwayana auctions, though, is how much they, and the market, have changed.  The magic of the internet allowed me to revisit a GWRA auction from 2004.  It’s a different world.  There are only about ten posters for sale, of which the vast majority went for very little.  £50 could have bought you either of these for example.

'Yorkshire Coast’, BR poster, 1959. Anonymous


Compare that to their last auction, where there are several dozen posters on offer, some of very high quality, and many fetching extremely high prices.

This is a big change indeed in under ten years, and it’s something that isn’t often acknowledged.  That includes by the auctions themselves, for whom it seems posters are a bit of a sideline compared to the real business of metal name plates and station platform signs.  But these days, the railwayana auctions together must easily turn over as many posters as Onslows and Christies combined.  I shall pay them a bit more respect in future.  We all should.   And perhaps they could return the favour with some estimates.

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