Your goodwill eases our daily task

Right, I have got behind again (apologies) and so the next few posts are going to be mostly me catching up with the auctions.  And there seem to be quite a lot to get through, too.  Although I do also have some thoughts on 1930s railway posters which need an airing one of these days as well.

First up, because the auction is next weekend, is London Transport Auctions.  On the plus side, they do at least, unlike most railwayman auctions, include a guide price.  On the downside, the pictures in their catalogue are minute.  Like this one, for example.

St Albans timetable

That, to save your eyesight, is a road and rail timetable for St Albans in 1937.  I suspect that the cover design may be quite nice, but I can’t really tell.

Fortunately The Saleroom have come to our rescue, so we can actually have a look at some of the posters that are on sale.  Which is a relief, because there are some nice ones in there.  Let’s start with the classics (for which you can read really quite valuable posters) represented here by Anna Zinkeiesen.

Original 1934 London Transport POSTER by Anna Zinkeisen (1901-76, designed for London Transport 1933-1944) promoting the Lord Mayor's Show.
Anna Zinkeiesen, 1934, est. £150-200

There’s also a design of hers for the Aldershot Tattoo, but it’s not as mice as the one above.  Or this one below, come to that. which is by John Stewart Anderson.

Original 1939 London Transport POSTER by John Stewart Anderson promoting the Royal Tournament at Olympia by bus, coach and Underground
John Stewart Anderson, 1939,  est. £150-200

He did some work for Shell in the 1930s as well, in the same kind of airbrush style, but that is pretty much all I can tell you.  And I don’t know anything about Charles Mozley, either, except that he designs in a style very reminiscent of Barnett Freedman crossed with a Punch cartoon.

Original 1939 London Transport POSTER by Charles Mozley (1915-91, designed for London Transport 1937-1939), the last of the 1930-1939 series promoting the Rugby League Cup Final at Wembley.
Charles Mozley, 1939, est. £100-150

Although, when I google, it turns out that I probably should have heard of him.

Elsewhere in the classics department, there are a couple of World War Two posters.

Original WW2 London Transport POSTER from 1944 'Seeing it through' by Eric Henri Kennington (1888-1960), one of a series he designed for LT that year, this one featuring a woman firefighter at the wheel of a truck above three verses of poetry by A P Herbert
Eric Kennington, 1944, est. £75-100

Original WW2 London Transport POSTER from 1943 '10 million passengers a day - your goodwill eases our daily task' by James Fitton (1899-1982)
James Fitton, 1943, est. £100-150.

A James Fitton is always a joy to see, at least for me.

As is this Eckersley-Lombers, which I would say was rare, on the basis that I’ve never seen it turn up at auction before.  Except that there are two of them in this very sale, each slightly different.  Go figure.

Original London Transport 1936 double-royal POSTER "Christmas Calling" by Tom Eckersley (1914-1997) & Eric Lombers (1914-1978),


Original London Transport 1936 double-royal POSTER "Christmas Calling" by Tom Eckersley (1914-1997) & Eric Lombers (1914-1978),

Spot the difference.  Both are double royal, both from 1936 and both on offer for £100-125 which, if you ask me, would be a bit of a steal.  (Actually I think that quite a few of these prices are at the low end of what even a notorious cheapskate like me would be prepared to pay, so it will be interesting to see what things actually go for).

Elsewhere, there are also some lovely post-war poster which are, inevitably, a bit more up my own personal street. Cream of the crop is probably this very colourful Kensington Palace Coronation Special.

Original 1953 London Transport double-royal POSTER from Coronation Year 'Kensington Palace' by Sheila Robinson (1925-1987)
Sheila Robinson, 1953, est.  £75-100

I could quite happily decorate a room in those colours.  And with that poster too.

There are also a few nice later examples too, like these two by Victoria Davidson and Anthony Rossiter.

Original 1959 London Transport double-royal POSTER 'Cockerel' by Victoria Davidson (1915-1999
Victoria Davison, 1959, est. £75-100

Original London Transport double-royal POSTER "Harvests" by Anthony Rossiter (1926-2000) who designed a number for LT between 1955 and 1974. The poster dates from 1965 (designed in 1964) and promotes Green Rover tickets for unlimited travel on London's country buses.
Anthony Rossiter, 1964, est.  £30-50

But you should probably go and have a look at the catalogue, if only because it is full of many and diverse delights apart from posters.  If I spend more than a few minutes in there, I find myself wondering about  bus conductors’s satchels and cap badges, about poster frames and brochures.  Or why not buy a bus stop?


Yours for £100-125 if you want it.  But I think I’d better end there, before I get entirely carried away.  On a bus, of course.

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In a field of their own

I really ought to be writing about the latest Great Central Railwayana catalogue, but  that will have to wait for now, as my attention has been grabbed by a pair of rather fetching animals instead.

This delightful pig is being sold on eBay by the previously mentioned Postercollection.

Hass, British bacon and ham poster early 1960s

It’s by Derrick Hass, it’s probably from the early 1960s and because it’s being sold by Postercollection it comes without linen on backside and is yours for a rather eye watering £198.  Or they will apparently take an offer.

Meanwhile, I’ve never seen this somewhat bewildered sheep before, and I feel as though I should have, because it’s the work of Mount Evans.


He is included in a brand new book of public information posters from the National Archives, called Keep Britain Tidy.  I have no idea whether it just contains pictures of posters or whether there is some kind of informative text too, but I probably need to get my hands on a  copy to find out.  Although the subtitle – and other posters from the nanny state – is almost enough to put me off.  But if I manage to swallow my disquiet, I will report back in due course.

While I have your attention, there are a couple of interesting posters coming up at an auction in Nottingham on Saturday.  Amongst the offerings are yet another Lander that I’ve never seen before, and which we would be bidding on were it not so a touch holed.  (It’s estimated at £60-90, so may yet be worth your while)

R M Lander North Wales poster

Along with this Cornwall poster too, which we failed to get an auction, possibly Morphets, some time back and I still hanker after for its general levels of insanity.

Cornwall trumpet of holiday joy poster

Yours for a mere £40-60 if they’ve got their estimates right.

And finally, a question for you.  Who’s doing the looking in this picture?

Woolacombe and Morthoe Harry Riley poster British Railways

Seriously.  The whole family is outside the window, so who’s inside looking at them?  Granny?  A voyeur?  Or should I assume that there is a third child, some sulky teenager lurking inside with their copy of Jane Eyre?  Answers on the usual electronic postcard below, please.

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The train now arriving

This photo was brought to my attention on Twitter last week, and I got very excited because it was labelled as The Bakerloo Line at Piccadilly Station, 1970.

Bakerloo line at Piccadilly Station with nice graphic adverts


I was all ready to launch a whole blog post on the back of this, talking about how the 1950s style of graphic advertising persisted for far longer than any of us had imagined, and how what’s reported in graphics annuals may not reflect what’s actually going on in the real world, and so on and so on.

And then I looked at the clothes.  This isn’t 1970, is it.  It’s scarcely pushing 1960 if you ask me. So design history does not have to be redrawn.

It is a lovely photo though, and also a reminder that the past is a far distant place where tobacco is an acceptable Christmas present.

So in the absence of those thoughts, I do also have space to point you at this lovely picture as well, which Dr G posted in the comments section the other day and is originally from this blog.

War posters on display at MomA New York


On the main floor galleries of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, visitors study posters that tell them to buy war bonds and look out for the enemy.”-LIFE Magazine, December 21, 1942.

What they are actually looking at is entries in a National War Poster competition – and it’s a good job that Dr G told me that otherwise I would have wasted a great deal of time trying to identify what’s on the walls.

But the picture is interesting, and not just because it shows people looking at posters.  It’s also a reminder that war posters in particular were not just preaching, but were part of a conversation with the viewers, and a conversation in which the public could sometimes have quite an active role.  Right down, I might remind you, to making their own posters themselves.

handmade world war two poster

It still pains me that someone has cut up a Lewitt-Him to create this, but it can’t exactly be undone, can it.  Hey ho.

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Hand crafted

This picture was tweeted by @HistoryInPictures the other day, and I thought you lot deserved to see it.

women making propaganda posters fort washington 1942

It was captioned ‘Making propaganda posters’, but I’d be surprised if that’s what’s actually going on here.  Even the British found printing posters a bit more efficient than hand-drawing each one, and this picture, a bit of internet searching tells me, was taken in Port Washington in 1942.

So what are they up to?  My money is that this is some kind of art school – they have proper desks after all – and  these women are learning graphic design.  But I am prepared to stand corrected on this one.

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Once again, we are back with the conundrum that we have no idea how much we don’t know about posters.  Although I suspect there are vast unsuspected continents of ignorance out there in the darkness.

One small portion of it popped its head above the parapet before Christmas, when these two posters appeared on eBay.

Freddie Reeves careless talks costs lives world war two propaganda posters

Freddie Reeves Careless talk costs lives world war two propaganda poster train

They are the work of one Freddie Reeves, and were being sold by his descendents, along with this poster, which we infuriatingly missed because our bid failed to register, something I am still smarting about.

Vanity Fair ice cream colours Freddie Reeves poster

But enough of that (although, honestly, we’ve missed so much stuff recently that I could fill a whole blog post on that subject alone) and back to the Careless Talk posters, the likes of which I have never seen before.  A rummage around on Google, does throw up this, though, which is artwork from the National Archives and clearly related.

freddie reeves train careless talk costs lives bigger format

It’s just as much of a surprise as the others, and I’ve certainly not seen it illustrated anywhere apart from the National Archives.  Mostly, I think this is down to the fact that the Home Front posters were never fully documented at the time, and so it will never be possible to produce a full catalogue.  There will always be ones like these that pop up out of nowhere to surprise us.

But I also think – and I am as guilty of this as the next person – that we tend to go for the obvious thought.  So when we think of Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases, our brains immediately serve up a Bateman.

Bateman Coughs and Sneezes world war two propaganda poster home front

Whereas actually that slogan came in many different styles, both before and after the war.

Coughs & Sneezes Spread Diseases, original WW2 Home Front poster printed for HMSO by Chromoworks circa 1940

Coughs and Sneezes vintage poster for sale eBay

And thus it is with Careless Talk as well; the slogan is so intimately linked with Fougasse that it’s hard for us to imagine any other posters, but they did exist.  As these two examples show.

The only clue that these ones give us is that they were printed in Manchester, which isn’t something I’ve ever seen before on a World War Two poster.  So was this some kind of local campaign?  Funded by someone other than the MoI?  I can only conjecture.

As far as I can tell, Freddie Reeves only did a couple of other posters, on a similar topic as it turns out.

BE like dad keep mum world war two propaganda poster

BE lIke dad keep mum reeves world war two propaganda poster

But that’s not to say that there aren’t other ones out there, it’s just that we don’t know about them yet.

What’s also interesting about the posters that we bought is that they are tiny, seve and a half inches by five inches.  And yes, we were a bit surprised when they came out of the envelope that size, which will teach us to read eBay listings properly.  But, again, I’ve never come across a World War Two poster that small before.  There are GPO posters that are nearly that small, like this Beaumont for example.

Christmas dog GPO poster

But even these are six inches by nine, and thus a different format.  So the Careless Talk posters weren’t designed for those GPO spaces.  I wonder where they were meant for?  Perhaps the corner of shop windows, although I can’t prove that.  From which I am driven to conclude  that, particularly where World War Two Home Front posters are concerned, we will never know anything like the full story.

The eBay listing also said of Freddie Reeves:

He was a graphic artist during the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970s’s. He did a lot of work for Good Housekeeping, Barkers, Morleys and some well known WW2 posters.

So where are all those other illustrations and posters then?  Where is the work of Freddie Reeves in the history books?  And how would we ever know he had been missing, were it not for the fact that one of his descendants sold a few last remaining pieces on eBay?  This bothers me, it really does.  Because how many other designers were out there, producing good stuff, and whose work we will never ever know because we have no idea that we are even meant to be looking out for it?

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Jam and newspapers

Temple Gate in Bristol, 1961.  Which, I can testify, looks nothing like that now.

Posters on display in Temple Gate Bristol 1961

But just look at those posters on the right.  This is not just because, as ever, it’s both rare and wonderful to see posters out in the wild, but also because, taken as a group, they are not bad.  Admittedly I wouldn’t pay money for the Chivers one, but the design for Rozalex (bottom left) is rather good, as is the utterly unidentifiable one above it.  In case you’re wondering, Rozalex is a barrier cream to keep off dirt and you can still buy it today.  Should you wish.

Also interesting is the Guardian advert.  Is that them feeling that they have to keep up with Patrick Tilley’s adverts for the Sunday Times?  I will have to investigate…

Addendum:  I’m pulling this up from the comments, because it’s a great photo of the CWS poster in another location – Roman Road to be precise.

Roman Road 1960s with poster

The image comes from East London History.

And the other posters are, as is so often the case, not that good.

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