Stamp stamp

Truly I have taken leave of my sense, because I have bought a presentation pack of stamps.

Now under any other circumstances this would be the piece of ephemera too far and you would be at complete liberty to laugh and point at me.  Except it looks like this.

Abram Games Jersey Stamps presentation pack cover

Rather good, isn’t it?

These are the stamps inside, and the blurb tells me that they are by Abram Games, so I am rather assuming the cover is too.

Abram Games Jersey set of stamps 1975

The pack also tells me that they commissioned Games because of his holiday posters, which for me immediately brought this one to mind.

Abram Games Jersey deckchair poster 1950s

But when I googled, the image that came up time and time again was not that deckchair but his parasol instead.

Abram Games Jersey poster 1951 tourism

This is the one in the collection of MoMA in New York, the one that has sold for £1,700 at Christies, and is clearly the big cheese in the world of Abram Games Jersey posters.  Which just goes to show how little I know.

But in the course of tracing its triumphs, I also found that it had an interesting afterlife too.  It was, it appears, reversioned as a BEA poster too, which isn’t something I’ve ever come across before.

Abram Games Jersey poster used for BEA 1951

And then there’s this: proof that a great graphic idea can be easily misapplied.

Jersey umbrella mishap

Games must have loved that.

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Profit Margin

Following on from the comments on my last piece about the inexplicable gap between eBay prices and elsewhere, a couple of instructive compare and contrasts for you.

Firstly, this excellent piece of sixties-iana, about which I know nothing except the rather obvious fact that it is for Pan Am.

vintage 1960s Pan Am poster womans face

Oh, and that its current asking price is $3,250.  If you’re tempted, it’s in an online exhibition of travel posters held by the International Vintage Poster Dealers Association.  I am not, you will be unsurprised to learn, a member.

However, if you are more of a fan of the poster than the price, then you can rue your missed opportunity, because it did turn up on eBay at the end of last year, where it fetched just $384.99.

Example two we have seen only the other day, as it’s Victor Pasmore’s exhibition poster which is up at Christies next month.

Victor Pasmore (1908-1998) LONDON GROUP lithograph in colours, 1948

This too came up on eBay only about six weeks ago, when it went for just £125.  In case you need reminding, the Christies estimate is £600-800.

Now I know that price can depend on condition, but even so the discrepancies are huge.  And given that both these posters are fairly rare (I have never ever seen either of them before now), the odds must be quite good that it’s the same poster being sold on.

One more example, although in this case the price discrepancy is partly explained by the fact that the original listing is in German.  Tom Eckersley’s book on Poster Design, the source of this wonderful illustration.

Tom Eckersley colour separations

Now the last time this went past on eBay, the asking price £75, give or take a penny.  But the lucky purchaser in the German auction got it for just one euro.  And you can’t really blame that on the whole thing being written in foreign, because it did say ‘Tom Eckersley’ very clearly in the title.

So, eBay: an enigma and a mystery.  And probably also quite a good business model if you’re interested in buying cheap and selling expensive.  Any economists out there with any more interpretations?

While we’re on the subject of Tom Eckersley, another way round high auction prices is available.  The V&A are selling reproductions of his Keep Britain Tidy Poster as part of the merchandising for their Modern British Design show.

Tom Eckersley Keep Britain Tidy poster V&A

Which I suppose may mean that there is an Eckersley poster in there somewhere, along with everything else.  I really ought to go and see that and we are going to London in a few weeks time.  But given that we are already planning to subject small Crownfolio to the Jeremy Deller exhibition, the V&A might be a step too far for one day.  Perhap we’ll go and see the dinosaurs instead.

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Today’s post is crowdsourcing, Quad Royal style, because lots of very kind people have been sending me links to posters on sale or sold recently.  So the least I can do, of course, is share them.

The first, and following on nicely from my last post, is this Daphne Padden poster for British Railways, which is up for sale in America via eBay.

Vintage Daphne Padden British Railways poster Lancashire Blackpool tower.

It’s a great poster, and one that I have never ever seen before and can’t find much trace of either, apart from the fact that one sold in the Midlands about three years ago.  Despite all that, and an attempt at a frame, the price seems a bit steep to me at £300+ for a starting bid.  But thank you to Mike Jacob for putting that my way nonetheless.

Also forthcoming, and emailed to me by Mr Crownfolio upstairs, is a Christies poster sale.  But don’t get too excited, this is an Olympic special, and there are very few Olympic posters I can get enthusiastic about, with this Richard Beck from 1956 perhaps the only exception.

Richard Beck 1956 Olympic poster
Richard Beck, 1956, est £800-1,200

And I definitely don’t want to buy an Olympic torch (there are a surprising number on offer too).  Given that, there isn’t a great deal else to report from the catalogue.  All I can point you towards are a handful of McKnight Kauffer’s.

Edward McKnight Kauffer (1890-1954)  EARLS COURT MOTOR SHOW  1937
McKnight Kauffer, 1937. est. £700-900

The one below has to be my favourite, although this is less a result of the image than the estimate.

Edward McKnight Kauffer (1890-1954)  ENO'S "FRUIT SALT"  lithograph in colours, 1925,
McKnight Kauffer, 1925, est. £1,200 – 1,800

We got another one of this series on eBay about eighteen months ago, only for a small fraction of what Christies thinks it is worth, an experience which never fails to please me.  And it’s a nicer image, to boot.

There is also a classic Abram Games.

Abram Games (1914-1996)  JOIN THE ATS  lithograph in colours, 1941
Abram Games, 1941, est. £2,000 – 3,000

Along with this Peter Roberson, which I am guessing only slips through Christies minimum lot requirements thanks to the Festival of Britain interest.

Peter Roberson (1907-1989)  VISITOR'S LONDON, FESTIVAL OF BRITAIN  lithograph in colours, 1950
Peter Roberson, 1950, est. £1,200 – 1,600

My favourite British poster is probably this obscure and slightly pallid Victor Pasmore.

Victor Pasmore (1908-1998)  LONDON GROUP  lithograph in colours, 1948
Victor Pasmore, 1948, est. £600 – 800

Note the use of British in the sentence above.  Because once again, the local talent is having to compete for my attention with a small but lovely set of David Klein posters.

David Klein (1918-2005)  MIAMI, FLY TWA  offset lithograph in colours, c.1960
David Klein, 1960, est. £800 – 1,200

David Klein (1918-2005)  LOS ANGELES, FLY TWA  offset lithograph in colours, c.1958
David Klein, 1958, est. £800 – 1,200

David Klein san fransciso 1958
David Klein, 1958, est. £800 – 1,200 

That first one in particular is fabulous, if a touch unaffordable.

The bad news is not just the small selection of posters I want to look at either.  As far as I can tell from Christies’ Calendar, this will be their only poster sale this spring.  And eBay’s gone into the doldrums too.  There’s nothing left for it, I may have to start trawling the railwayana catalogues to keep my hopes up.

There are still a few glimmerings in the provincial auction scene as well, although I might have to get my act together a bit in reporting them to you.  James Manning pointed out that Dreweatts have been selling more Percy Drake Brookshaws in a recent sale.

Now I say more because one of my first ever posts on here was about some of his posters being sold at the same auction house.  Both then and now they seem to have come from the artist’s family, who have clearly been disposing of what they have in dribs and drabs.  And also saving the best stuff until last.

A London Underground advertising poster, 'While Others Wait - A Season [Ticket] / Takes You Through', 1928, by Percy Drake Brookshaw (1907-93)

What’s most amusing about these lots is the discrepancy between the estimates and the results.  I would have been very happy to get the poster above for the £50-60 that Dreweatt’s estimated.  Sadly it went for £550.  Although perhaps not sadly, given that I missed the sale.

That wasn’t a freak occurrence either, all the posters reached similarly high prices.  The boat race poster below was estimated at £100-150, but sold for almost ten times that, £1,100.

A London Underground advertising poster, for the University Boat Race, 'Saturday March 31st - 9.45 a.m. / Nearest Stations: Putney Bridge, Hammersmith / Ravenscourt P[ar]k, Turnham Green & Chiswick P[ar]k', 1928, by Percy Drake Brookshaw

While this classic would have been the bargain of the century at its £60-80 estimate.

A London Underground advertising poster, for the University boat race, 1937, by Percy Drake Brookshaw

But it too went for £1,100.

I swear I will never ever fully understand the poster market.  Prices like that make me think that the internet is doing its job in flattening out the market, as anyone with an interest and a tiny bit of understanding of searches on websites can find almost any lot up for sale and bid on it.  But why doesn’t that work with eBay then?  Why can we buy a McKnight Kauffer on there for a tenth of its Christies price?  I think we might need to write a specialist piece of poster market theory, so if there is an economist in the house, can they get in touch?  And for anyone else, please do keep sending the auction links and anything else that takes your fancy, they’re very much appreciated.


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General Entertainments – no lemon!

As promised, some more of the Daphne Padden designs that she left to Oxfam.

P&O menu design Daphne Padden Oxfam archive

In many ways, having seen the first batch, there are no great surprises here as the range –  everything from posters to packaging design – is very similar.  But it’s still very interesting.  For example, I had no idea that she did this packaging design, which does look vaguely familiar to me.

Lux packaging design Daphne Padden Oxfam Archive

There’s plenty more of this kind of thing too – her work really did extend from poster design into packaging as well as the fifties went into the sixties.

Daphne Padden shampoo bottle designs Oxfam Archive

There are loads more quirky little things too.  Who would have known that she had designed this early 1950s catalogue without seeing this design?

Home Furnishings catalogue Daphne Padden Oxfam archive

And I had no idea that she had done this Holiday Haunts cover either.  The seagulls are familiar too, I seem to remember them from one of her P&O menu designs.

Daphne Padden British railways holiday haunts cover Oxfam Archive

Although now I go back and look they have definitely put on their glad rags for cruising.

Daphne Padden menu birds on trident from back

While I’m on the subject, there are also one or two more nice designs for menus in there in addition to the one at the top.

Royal Scot menu design Daphne Padden archive Oxfam

Once again, only the most assiduous combing through ephemera fairs and eBay would ever have brought this to light.

But there’s more to what remains than just a joyous skipping through unseen designs (although let’s be honest, that’s fun).  I’m also beginning to learn a bit about her design processes from what remains.  At least I think I am.

It looks as though the first step was a rough sketch.  She might have prepared a good handful of these, and I wonder if they sometimes got shown to a client, at least a client she trusted.

Coach poster sketch stately homes and gardens daphne padden oxfam archive

I love the dog on this, but I don’t think this design ever got printed, more’s the pity – at least this is the only version I’ve ever seen.

Daphne Padden stately homes and gardens poster

Sometimes, particularly in the early days of her career, I think she would work up these small sketches as detailed pen and ink drawings to show her clients.  Here’s one for her Wales poster which was in the collection that we bought.  Note the delightful sheep nestling on the ‘L’.

Daphne Padden artwork for wales poster

Then I think if the design was commissioned she produced a near full-sized collage.  Here’s one for what I am guessing is a fabric pattern.

Daphne Padden fabric pattern oxfam archive

This is what I believe went to the printers, and if they ever came back from that inky place possibly went to the client.  What is certainly the case is that none of these have turned up in either archive for a commissioned design.  So my guess is that all the ones that she kept were, for one reason or another, never produced.  Perhaps she was keeping them in case they came in handy later.

For some of her more complex designs (which I tend to assume are earlier although I couldn’t prove that), she also used ink along with the collage, as is the case with this splendid cheeseboard.

Daphne Padden cheeseboard Oxfam archive

There’s lots more, but I am going to end with a question.  I’m guessing that this sketch is for a coach poster.

Daphne Padden zoo coach poster sketch Oxfam archive

It feels curiously familiar, but I can’t find the actual poster it refers to, just this one.

Daphne Padden party travel poster

Was it ever produced or not, or am I just getting the two confused – does anyone out there know?

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Which lead on to other things.  Like this greetings telegram.

Claudia Freedman greetings telegram 1950

It came from the local ‘Antiques and Collectors’ (i.e. 1970s cookery books, artificial flowers and old tools) market just near me.  A rare gem in amonst the flotsam, then.

Its main story – and why this telegram exists at all – is that it was sent by some people to someone else.  To John Rees, in fact, in Troedyrhw in Wales who was celebrating his 90th birthday.  He must have been well-loved, because he got a whole clutch of these, all written in the same hand by his local Post Office.  I hope he had a lovely day.

He was lucky to get anything as decorative, because it turns out that this design was the first Greetings Telegram to be produced after World War Two; his birthday was 22nd Jan 1951, and these were only reintroduced on 20th November 1950, as paper rationing was finally eased.  So it’s also a historical document of sorts, a reminder of a time when the world of austerity was finally ebbing away and pretty things just for the joy of themselves were permitted once more.

He was twice lucky because the first design they chose was also very good.  There’s a tiny signature in the bottom right hand corner which, when I squinted at it, seemed to say Freedman.  The lettering also looked a bit like his work, at which point I started to wish that I had bought the whole batch.  But I couldn’t quite persuade myself (or Mr Crownfolio) that the first word was Barnett, so went off to do a bit of digging.

What I discovered was that my instincts were not far off, as the design is actually by Barnett Freedman‘s wife, Claudia.  There’s a very good article on the blog Adventures in the Print Trade about both of their work, which gave me this biography:

She was born Claudia Guercio in Formby, Liverpool, of Anglo-Sicilian parentage. She studied at Liverpool School of Art and the Royal College of Art. Working initially under her maiden name, she took the name Claudia Freedman on her marriage to Barnett Freedman in 1930. Compared to her husband, Claudia Freedman’s output was relatively small, but works such as the autolithographed book My Toy Cupboard (undated but published in the 1940s by Noel Carrington’s Transatlantic Arts) show that she had a talent equal to his.

Which then led me to finding the telegram in Ruth Artmonsky’s book Bringers of Good Tidings: Greetings Telegrams 1935-1982 where it is listed under her maiden name of Guercio.

The piece on Adventures in the Print Trade makes two crucial points, that her work, unlike her husband’s, is now pretty much unknown, and that there was never very much of it in the first place.  These two things may be connected.

They illustrate her very rare wartime book, My Toy Cupboard and it’s worth going over to the blog to see the rest of it, as it is wonderful.

My Toy Cupboard Claudia Freedman from Adventures etc...

But there is a bit more out there to be found.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the trail also led me to Mike Ashworth’s Flickr stream (which will one day be declared a National Monument of Ephemera and preserved for posterity).

Claudia Freedman Shell advertisement 1950

Claudia Freedman designed this ad for Shell in about 1950, he tells me.  It’s a fantastically complex thing and must, I guess, have been designed for magazines as it could never have been reproduced in newsprint.

And finally, I came back full circle to not only a blog I have visited before but also another telegram.  This one was sent to A. Muriel Pierotti on her appointment as General Secretary of the National Union of Women Teachers in 1940, and so is now kept in the archives of the NUWT.

Claudia Freedman greetings telegram 1940

Despite the fact that it was sent during wartime, it is nonetheless decorated – the ban on these didn’t come into force until 1943.  I hope Muriel Pierotti enjoyed her appointment as much as Mr Rees enjoyed his birthday.

Not all objects are so forthcoming however.  I also bought this map of Ontario at the same stall.

Esso map montreal quebec 1950s

There is no artist’s name, no clue at all, just a very endearing town and the name of a garage on the back.

Esso montreal map back

The only story here is mine; I bought it mainly because I have a stack of my father’s old maps teetering on the windowsill in the bedroom waiting to be sorted through one day.  My father loved maps very much.  Top of the pile is this Stockholm map, which he must have had when we used to live in Copenhagen and he travelled to Stockholm for business quite regularly.

Stockholm map from I do not know when but courtesy of ALN Walker

The Swedes clearly have no problem with being both historical and modern at the same time.  Unlike us Brits.

When I saw the Ontario map, it reminded me of the Stockholm one because it seemed to have the same sunny optimism about the city it portrayed, so I bought it.  And that’s the end of the story.

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File under miscellaneous

The email from the Swiss auction house Poster-Auctioneer announcing their latest auction has once again dropped into my mailbox.  So I flicked through page after page of foreign posters, pretty sure that none of them would appear on the blog.  Until I came to this Donald Brun and my resolution crumbled.

Donald Brun 1952 volkswagen poster poodle genius

It’s the perfect mixture of sophisticated and daft, isn’t it.  Clearly they are expecting quite a lot of people to think the same, because it has an estimate of 900 swiss francs, which is over £600.  Never mind.

Once I’d given in to that, I thought I might as well include this poster too, mainly on the grounds that it’s a kind of style that really the British never even attempted, and so I do hanker after it a bit.

Kurt Helmut very foreign autophon poster

It’s by the rather brilliantly named Kurtz Helmut, and isn’t dated, although it doesn’t really need one, and it could be yours for in the region of 500 francs.

Elsewhere, there are some bits and bobs of Barbara Jones available on eBay should anyone be interested.  Exhibit A is a handful of original drawings, as brought to my attention by James Manning.  This one is the best, mainly because of the dog.

Barbara JOnes watercolour with nice dog

The better treasure, for me at least, is a copy of Design for Death, which is a wonderful book and definitely worth buying in its own right (as I have explained at some length on here before).  But how much better if it comes with this.

Barbara Jones owl christmas card 1960

It’s Barbara Jones’ own Christmas Card from 1960, featuring two owls who bear more than a passing resemblance to Twit and Howlett.  We do have the book, so I cannot possibly justify spending a minimum of £25 on one small card.  But I am tempted.

Posted in auctions, eBay | Tagged | 2 Responses