On 16th July, Bloomsbury are holding their Poster Sale, in what I’m hoping will be the last auction for a while – I say this mainly because I want to write about other things for a chance.

I’m not so jaded that I am going to do this, but I am aware that I could almost substitute what I wrote about Onslows in here with different illustrations, because the two sales are following a very similar pattern.

In particular, they both have a big selection of GPO posters, although in the case of Bloomsbury, they sell them in lots of ten so the estimates, although nominally higher than Onslows are actually cheaper on a per poster basis.  Which is confusing, in a trying to work out which brand of cornflakes in the supermarket is actually best value kind of way.  Perhaps we should price posters per square centimetre for the sake of clarity. Anyway, these are what’s on offer, but bear in mind that each one comes with nine unphotographed others.

HUVENEERS, Pieter H. SEND YOUR OVERSEAS PARCELS BY AIR MAIL. GPO lithograph in colours, 1954, vintage poster
PIeter Huveneers, 1954, est. £150-250

1955 vintage GPO poster BROWNING, H. W. BY AIR MAIL, GPO lithograph in colours
Browning, 1955, est. £150-250

vintage GPO poster GAPP BOTH NEED A CLEAR VIEW, GPO lithograph in colours, 1951,
Gapp, 1951, est. £150-250

This also connects up with the Onlows sale in that these – rather than the set on offer at Onslows – are the ones rescued from a skip when the Post Office were having a clear out.  So it’s an interesting coincidence that two sets have come on the market at the same time.  There is one more lot on offer at Bloomsbury as well,  fronted by this Tom Eckersley classic.

vintage GPO poster 1955 ECKERSLEY, Tom (1914-1997) POST EARLY, GPO ithograph
Tom Eckersley, 1955, est. £150-250

In another resemblance to Onslows, Bloomsbury also have a few fantastic Games posters tucked away at the end.  I won’t go through them all, but mostly they are good but not news to me because they have been much reproduced, like this London Transport example.

1950 London Transport vintage poster GAMES, Abram LONDON TRANSPORT, conducted tours lithograph in colours, printed by Waterlow & Sons Ltd, London
Abram Games, 1950, est. £150-250

This one, however is both new to me and utterly wonderful.

1952 poster GAMES, Abram (1914-1996) BLACKPOOL, British Railways
bram Games, 1952, est. £200-400

It’s apparently a British Railways poster  – and given that it’s in the collection of the NRM I see no reason to doubt this – but it doesn’t say BR on it anyway.  Which is unusual, but I imagine just the kind of thing Abram Games got away with and no one else was allowed to.

Onslows was full of Shell posters; Bloomsbury have but two.  They are, however, this kind and so both preferable and more valuable.

SUDDABY Rowland, (1912-1972 ) YOU CAN BE SURE OF SHELL, Darley Abbey lithograph in colours, 1937
Roland Suddaby, 1937, est.  £300-500

After that, however, I start to run out.  There are foreign posters (lots), film posters (just as many) and car posters (quite a few) but little to tickle my fancy.  The best thing I could find is this Lander, and it’s not one of his best.

British Railways poster LANDER, R.M. ISLE OF MAN lithograph in colours, c.1960,
R M Lander, 1960, est. £200-400

The only other thing that is of interest, although strictly speaking it’s more of a print, is this item by James Fitton.

James Fitton CEMA print pant
James Fitton, 1942, est. £300-500

Now I’ve come across one of these before.  It’s a print by CEMA, wartime fore-runner to the Arts Council and the prints look to be precursors of the School Prints and Lyons editions.  But I can’t find anything about them anywhere – do you lot know where they might be documented?  Or even a decent history of CEMA itself would do.  Anyway, there are actually a whole set available in the lot, so the estimate looks like somewhat of a bargain, if you like that kind of thing.

Even though it’s a bit short on my personal favourite kinds of posters, I still think the sale is good though, because I think Bloomsbury have answered the question that I asked a week or two ago, which was where are we to buy and sell mid range posters now that Christies have turned us away at the door?  Here, it seems.

FM Paignton British Railways tourism poster 1960
F M. 1960, est £200-400

That said, I do still have a couple of reservations.  One is very simply that they are not trying very hard with their catalogue.  For several of the posters I’ve illustrated up there, no dates have been given in the catalogue; in each case it’s been the matter of moments with Google for me to find out.  And given that two of those posters are for the GPO and London Transport, who in each case have comprehensive online catalogues, with dates, it’s pretty poor.

The other is the estimates.  They’re both wide and well, a bit vague.  Surely that fantastic Games of Blackpool has to be worth more than the average Lander?  So then I look at the catalogue and wonder how much they really know about their lots.  Still, I don’t suppose it matters too much.  This is, after all, an auction, and the market can judge for itself what a poster is worth.  But I do still feel very slightly cheated.

Finally, in a shameless piece of self-advertisement, we are selling some posters on eBay.  However, they are mostly world war two, mostly a bit shabby (OK, some a lot shabby) and surplus to requirements, so keep your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed.

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Cleaning up

Remember our Daphne Padden prints from last year?

Daphne Padden gardener print to buy

(Which are, incidentally, still available, if you want one just leave a comment or drop me a line via the contact form).

Daphne Padden London print to buy

Well now, thanks to the lovely people at To Dry For, you are now also able to buy Daphne Padden tea towels too.  Just take a look at this, beautifully printed onto linen and rather desirable.

To Dry For Daphne Padden Gardener tea towel

That’s not all, either,  because they’ve also made two more Padden designs into tea towels as well.

To Dry For Daphne Padden kitchen baking tea towel

Daphne Padden To Dry For chickens tea towel

It’s all very exciting if you ask me.

They are for sale right now via the To Dry For website, and in the next week or so I will be running some kind of competition with a couple of these as prizes.  Except I don’t know what kind of competition that might be yet.  Watch this space (or even suggest one of your own, you might just win a tea towel for that too).

To Dry For London Tea Towel Daphne Padden

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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


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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