Extravagance

Do you remember I said recently that we weren’t buying anything because we needed carpets and curtains?  It turns out that there are exceptions to this.

Black Eyes and Lemonade Catalogue cover curated by Barbara Jones whitechapel art gallery

Which is not a poster but the catalogue for the Black Eyes and Lemonade exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1951, curated, of course, by Barbara Jones.

Now we paid the money for something which is, if I am honest, not that pictorial.  There are a couple of images of popular graphics from the exhibition.

Molassine advertisement from Black eyes and lemonade catalogue barbara jones

Along with one Barbara Jones drawing of a doll.

Black eyes and lemonade doll drawing by barbara jones 1951

But that’s your lot – the rest looks like this.

Black Eyes and lemonade barbara jones inside text

From all of which I can tell you a few things.  One is that at least a third of the exhibition belonged to Barbara Jones herself; I wish I could have seen her house.

The second is that, more than anything else I have ever seen,the whole miscellaneous variety of human life is present, from bread to postcards of ‘Dressing up the cat’, a milk float to a stuffed chub, a beer pump to crochet-work mittens.  The only way I could give you the full picture of its oddity would be to type the whole thing out.

But fear not.  Chapter 27 of my world domination plan still includes a complete restaging of the entire Black Eyes and Lemonade exhibition, and with this in my hands I can at last make a start on it.  Even if I do have to live without carpets in the meantime.

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Typewriter dream of elysian fields

Less eBay, more auctions today, which makes a change.  The main excitement, at least it is if you are me, is a pair of Graham Sutherland posters up for sale at Wooley and Wallis in Salisbury.  This is the catalogue image.

Graham Sutherland How Sweet I roamed London Transport poster 1936

From the text, it appears that the other poster on offer is this (image from the London Transport Museum site).

Graham Sutherland field to field London Transport poster 1936

While I am sure that the catalogue knows what it’s talking about, it’s nonetheless a bit odd, because both of these designs were originally conceived as London Transport pair posters.

London Transport how sweet I roamed pair poster 1936 Graham Sutherland

Graham Sutherland from field to field London Transport pair poster 1936

Given the choice, I think I’d rather have the two on offer.  Not that this opinion is in any way relevant, because the estimate is £2,500 to £3,500, a sum of money which is completely unaffordable if you are currently pouring all of your savings into restoring a knackered old building.

I have to say, though, that if we weren’t being so daft, I’d be tempted.  I don’t know why – after all we’ve never spent anything like that much on a poster before.  So then I doubt my motives for wanting these; is it because it is they are lovely posters, or is it because I like the status of owning not just any old poster, but a Graham Sutherland London Transport Poster.  Am I still in thrall to the idea of the artist even despite buying mass produced images?  Quite possibly.

All of which navel-gazing sent my mind back to the mahoosive Christies London Transport Sale, where the other great Graham Sutherland poster is on offer for £1,500-2,000.

Graham Sutherland London Transport poster 1936

Which I also love, but am also not going to buy, because we need carpets and that’s the end of it.  Except to say that I should probably return to Graham Sutherland’s posters on here one of these days.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand.  Lockdales, an auction house in Ipswich, have a handful of British Railways posters coming up in October.  They are actually quite to my taste, as they’re mostly post-war and just a little bit quirky.

British Railway poster, Broadstairs, The resort with a charm of its own
est. £150-250

British Railway poster, Frederick Griffin, Southend on Sea, Westcliff on Sea, leigh on Sea, Thorpe Bay, Shoeburyness
est. £150-250

Lune Valley 1950 poster Percy Drake Brookshaw
est. £100-150

The third one is by our old friend Percy Drake Brookshaw, and rather fine it is too.

I am mildly amused by this lot, which has been subject to some rather comprehensive cropping and so is described only as “town by an ocean”.

town by ocean auction lot British Railway poster, Alasdair Macfarlane

Shall we turn this into a parlour game?  Can anyone name that railway poster?  (I can’t).

To round this off, there are one or two things on eBay that are worth your time and attention, starting with this.

Derrick Sayer London Transport artwork

Which is a piece of artwork for a London Transport poster, by Derrick Sayer and dating from, so the listing says, the 1940s.

It doesn’t look as though it was ever produced, as there’s no trace of it in the London Transport Museum collection.  Mr Crownfolio says that it reminds him of this Schleger.

Hans Schleger 1937 Highway Code exhibition Charing Cross

I think he has a point there.  The colours also remind me of James Fitton’s work at about the same time.

James Fitton World War Two blackout poster London Transport

I could go on, but I won’t.

Finally, this.  A classic architectural work, with an early Tom Eckersley, well Eckersley Lombers cover to boot.

THE MODERN HOUSE IN ENGLAND Marcel Breuer WALTER GROPIUS Tecton cover Tom Eckersley

Currently at £12.50, but with four days to go, I think it will go higher.  And I have some more Eckersley for you in a week or so too.

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Not a poster

Exhibit A is a pair of recent acquisitions from eBay.

Frys chocolate varieties ephemera from eBay

The second one is, to my mind, a rather good bit of graphic design.

Fry's chocolate snowdrops ephemera

Now these are in lovely condition – they apparently came from the printer’s own archive – and so we thought we’d got a bit of a bargain.  Until they arrived.  They’re, um, quite small, as you can see from my cunning Minifigure + cat hair scaling device.

size of frys chocolate snowdrops poster thing

Now this is not the fault of the seller, although I could perhaps argue that they are not in fact posters; mostly the surprise is entirely of our own doing for not reading the dimensions on the listing.  So today’s moral is, read those eBay listings carefully otherwise you may not get what you think you’re getting.

All of which does rather beg the question of what in fact we did actually get.  I’m not even sure what the pieces of paper are for – Mr Crownfolio reckons that they are labels for sweet jars but I’m open to other suggestions if you have them.  Then there’s the matter of who designed them?  A brief investigation hasn’t come up with anything.  And what is a chocolate snowdrop anyway?  I have no idea.  But I do like their label.

While I am here, you might as well see a few other things we’ve bought recently, starting with a whole heap of GPO posters.  These three came from the same seller.

GPO evening calls poster brings you together 1963

USe the Household delivery service poster GPO 1964

Harry Stevens GPO poster sherlock holmes 1980

You won’t be too surprised to learn that the last one is by Harry Stevens.  What’s a bit more amazing is that it’s from 1980.  I think we may have a date for the last gasp of the classic GPO poster there.

This one only dates from 1966, but it’s a double winner, partly because it’s by Andre Amstutz, and partly because I love these Properly Packed Parcels Please posters and can’t get enough of them.

Amstutz properly packed parcels please poster 1966 GPO

While the last exhibit is, in a way, the reverse of the Fry’s chocolate ones, because it turned up in the post and was actually more interesting than I expected.

Scout bob a job week poster

Just look at those paper sculpture scouts.  A sentence you don’t get to use often enough.

 

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Who knew?

Today’s news is that I did something to something yesterday and discovered a whole new online archive.  For a collection that I had no idea even existed in real life.

It turns out that the British Council owns a socking great heap of posters.  Made up of things like this McKnight Kauffer.

SOCRATES AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM. BY UNDERGROUND 1926 Edward McKnight Kauffer

And this Purvis.

EAST COAST JOYS 1932 Tom Purvis

And even this anonymous psychedelic gem.

Beat the breathalyser smoke pot

These – and the many hundreds of others which go with them – come from the Alan Mabey archive, whose story is told on the British Council’s website as follows.

Mrs Phyllis Mabey donated this collection of over 300 posters to the British Council in August 1977. At the time she wrote “I should be very glad to hand the collection to The British Council as a gift, as I feel sure that it could not be in better hands, and it will be kept as a collection and not broken up.I wish that the collection be preserved as an entity and that it should be known as the Alan Mabey Collection.

I’ve tried to Google Mr and Mrs Mabey without finding anything out at all, least of all why they failed to give the whole lot to me.  But I can tell you one or two things about Alan Mabey just from looking at the archive.

The first is that he liked McKnight Kauffer very much indeed, because he must have owned pretty much every poster that Kauffer ever produced.  At leas that’s what it looked like.

SPRING CLEANING: EAposter - EASTMAN'S THE LONDON DYERS AND CLEANERS 1924 Edward McKnight Kauffer

There are acres of Kauffer’s designs for London Transport on the site, which I won’t bother illustrating because you’ve almost certainly seen them before.  But Alan Mabey also picked up some other designs of Kauffers which don’t come up anything like as often.  These two are new to me.

poster - READ 'CRICKETER' IN THE MANCHESTER GUARDIAN 1923 Edward McKnight Kauffer

vintage poster POMEROY DAY CREAM 1922 Edward McKnight Kauffer

I think more modern advertising should be along these lines.

The archive would be worth your time simply for these, but there is plenty more, because Alan Mabey had the kind of catholic taste that I can only approve of.  He liked Shell posters and London Transport too, although interestingly there aren’t many railway posters.  Amongst these are plenty enough of the recognised heroes and heroines of graphic design – not just Kauffer, but also Dora Batty, Austin Cooper and Frank Newbould.

poster ORIENT LINE CRUISES Frank Newbould

But he also bought some less obviously collectable posters, the kind of commercial art, in short, which is so often left out of the record.  The first of these is by Robert Gossop from 1928, the second is dateless and anonymous.

poster THE WAY ABOUT HEALS AT THE SIGN OF THE FOUR POSTER 1928 Robert Percy Gossop

JAMAL THE FREEDOM WAVE vintage poster 1930s

This F Gregory Brown is also rather fine.

WITNEY BLANKETS "FLEECY, LIGHT AND WARM" NO DATE F Gregory Brown

What doesn’t tend to be represented as much is the kind of post-war poster that I love most of all.  There are one or two, to be sure, like this 1963 Abram Games.

poster KEEP BRITAIN TIDY 1963 Abram Games

Again, this is matched with some of the more commercial work of the time.

PASCALL SWEETS MAKE LIFE SWEETER 1947 advertising poster

CHRISTMAS WISE D H EVANS 1946 Barbosa poster reindeer

The first is anonymous, but the second one is by Barbosa, and the website gives a rather wonderful biography for him.

Artur Barbosa was born in Liverpool, the son of the Portuguese vice-consul and a half-French mother. He studied at Liverpool School of Art and the Central School of Art in London. Whilst still a student he produced illustrations for Everybody’s Weekly and The Radio Times, in addition to producing book covers. He is probably best remembered for his cover illustrations for the Regency romances of Georgette Heyer. In addition to cover illustrations, Barbosa also designed for the stage, produced drawings for fashion magazines and the leading advertising agencies. Barbosa was at school with Rex Harrison, the friendship endured into adulthood when Harrison commissioned Barbosa to design the interiors of his villa in Portofino. This in turn led to a commission to refurbish Elizabeth Taylor’s yacht, the Kalizma.

What is present though, as the poster at the top has hinted, is a major collection of psychedelic posters from the 1960s.

FAIRPORT CONVENTION 1968 Greg Irons  poster

What I can’t tell you is whether any of this this represents Alan Mabey’s taste or not, because the British Council has been augmenting the collection over the years.

 Since the bequest the collection was augmented by post-war works by leading British artists and designers acquired by General Exhibition Department.

They must have been doing that quite heavily too; they say that the bequest was over 300 posters, but the online catalogue runs to 843.  Which is quite a lot.

F Godfrey Brown Ideal Home Show exhibition 1930s poster

There are two things to say about the archive.  One is that only about a quarter of the poster are illustrated.  However much I have tried to work through the full list of titles, my feel for the collection is still very much based on what I have seen rather than read.  I actually found the collection when looking for a Tom Eckersley Post Office Savings Bank poster from 1952, so there is plenty more treasure within.  How about this wartime Edward Wadsworth lithograph, produced by the Council for Encouragement of Music and the Arts?

SIGNALS 1942 Edward Wadsworth  lithograph CEMA

I need to know more.

The other point worth making is that this is actually one of the major British poster collections.  It may not be quite as large as the V&A’s, but it has some of the same scope and ambition.  But I had no idea that it even existed.  So what else is out there that I need to know about?

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Something fishy going on

I had a theory when I started on this post, but after some research I have now authoritatively blown it out of the water (the pun in that will become apparent later on).  However it’s still an interesting journey to travel, so this post will mostly be me showing my workings in order to prove myself wrong.  Never mind.

The starting point is this rather wonderful object that arrived in my inbox over the weekend.

Daphne Padden Glass Panel Royal Blue Coaches fisherman image

Oh that the object itself had turned up.

It’s a version of Daphne Padden’s Royal Blue fisherman, painted onto glass for some coach office somewhere.  Having been kept by an employee of Royal Blue, it’s been bought by a transport collector. I am very envious.

But it got me back to thinking about Daphne Padden and fishermen.  As I’ve posted relatively recently, she liked them quite a lot, and kept going back to them as a motif.

Daphne Padden Royal Blue poster ours from morphets

I’ve tended to think of them as being Cornish fishermen, but as it turns out, they’re not.  Here’s another one of hers, for example, advertising the delights of East Anglia.

Daphne Padden coaches to east anglia fish vintage poster

I don’t own this poster and have had to borrow it from The Lark’s Flickr stream, so thanks to them.

But these fishermen weren’t just a quirk of Daphne Padden’s.  At about the same period, Harry Stevens was also mining a very similar vein of imagery.

Harry Stevens Atlantic Coast express british railways poster artwork 1955

Both to advertise Cornwall (the artwork above) and East Anglia as well.

harry stevens vintage coach poster london east anglia fisherman

Mr Crownfolio has always reckoned that this poster is Harry Stevens’ affectionate pastiche of Daphne Padden’s Royal Blue poster.  But I’m intrigued that they’re both starting to use the same imagery at about the same time.

Because either side of the war, the attraction of fishing ports was always the red-sailed boats themselves.  Here’s Ronald Lampitt in 1936 and Frank Sherwin, possibly from 1946.

Poster, Great Western Railway, Cornwall by Ronald Lampitt, 1936.

SHERWIN, FRANK (1896-1985)  CORNWALL Great Western railway poster 1946

The red sails are, it will not surprise you to learn, also used to advertise East Anglian destinations, in this case by Frank Mason.

Frank Mason East coast havens poster 1946

Now this is where I was all prepared to work out a neat little theory about the evolution of nostalgia.  There must have come a time when the red sails had so completely disappeared that they could no longer be used as a sign for the fishing port, not even in a past tense kind of way.  But the fishermen were still there on the quay, so they came to be the new signifier for this kind of place.

Except there is one great big fly in this ointment, which is that one particular fisherman had been extolling the joys of the seaside a long time before any of these posters were designed.  It is of course this one, John Hassell’s jolly fisherman for Skegness.

Poster, London & North Eastern Railway, Skegness is So Bracing by John Hassall, 1926.

That version is from 1926, but he goes back as far as 1908, and also persists for a very long time.  Here’s Frank Newbould reworking him in 1935.

'Skegness is so Bracing', LNER poster, 1933.

While here’s another one from 1962.

'Old and young find Skegness is so bracing British Railways poster, c 1961.

So my theory is, well, not exactly watertight.  Please feel free to prove it wrong in any other ways you choose.

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Kroll and more

So much has actually arrived here at Quad Royal over the last few weeks that I couldn’t fit it all into one post.  Which means that it’s back to the mailbox again today.

At the start of the summer I posted about Stan Krol, mostly along the lines of how little I knew about him.  Luisa Valerio got in touch and gave me a few more details – in fact it’s probably worth reproducing her comment here for those of you who missed it at the time.

He was born in Poland (grew up in Warsaw), in a jewish family, only son, his parents had a paint factory. He studied chemistry. Just before WWII left Poland alone and travelled throughout europe until he reached England, about 1940. Then he joined the army, in scotland. There was some long illness, and after that Stan started a new life: studied at st. andrews university and became a graphic designer. Worked in London as a freelance artist from then on. Married Hazel (ballerina from Berlin, real name Ingeborg) at 54, no children. They lived in Barnes, London. Stan died in 1985, Hazel in 2001. I remember him as a very kind and good humored person, who loved his work. I visited him in London from the late seventies and saw drawers full of posters in his studio. My favourite was another cat safety warning: “be seen, wear white at night” . Many people must have kept stan’s beautiful new year’s cards – he designed one every year.

Luisa has now gone to the effort of sending me some of his designs too. So here’s the black cat poster, but turned into his card that year.

Stan Krol New years card with black cat rospa design 1968

If anyone has that poster, can I have it please?

Here’s another one of his cards, and it’s worth my reproducing the inside too; it’s a good piece of design for a client I wouldn’t otherwise have suspected of commissioning that sort of thing.

Stan Krol Christmas card port of boulogne

Stan Krol christmas card port of boulogne inside

How many great bits of design like that have just disappeared? Uncountable numbers I should think.   Here are a few more of his cards, which are also numbers.

Stan Kroll card 1961

Stan Kroll card 1966

And also a dog.  Which is brilliant.

Stan Krol dog new year card

To cap this all off  below is Stan himself, in Portugal in 1940.

STAN KROL IN PORTUGAL 1940

Given that he is a refugee without a country to call his own, in the middle of a world war, he is looking both dapper and cheerful.  I respect that a lot.

I also got an invitation to the British Art Fair at the Royal College of Art next week.  Neil Jennings, who is exhibiting there and sent the invitation, is promising Barbara Jones, Edward Bawden and Kenneth Rowntree amongst others.  Here’s the Barbara Jones for your viewing pleasure.  I particularly like the stook duck houses, which are exactly the kind of thing to catch her attention.

Barbara Jones watercolour 1967 mill poin

Along with its blurb:

Barbara Jones Calbourne Water Mill, Isle of Wight
Watercolour, c.1967.  Inscribed verso by the artist in pencil, Robert John Weekes/Send Faber Leads/Roller Mill/Calbourne I.o.W.

Although the work is undated, it relates to another work from the same collection, dated 1967
Provenance: Private collection, Sussex.

There’s been more too, including a railwayana catalogue and a copy of Modern Publicity, along with my very own copy of the catalogue for the giant Christies London Transport sale. Some or all of which will appear on the blog next week.  Or something completely different if I get distracted.  Wait and see.

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