Lofty finds

Mr Crownfolio and I are about to put an offer in on a house without an attic.  This is quite annoying, because it rather ruins our chances of finding a fantastic cache of posters in there.  After the recent set of coach posters, another seller on eBay is profiting from their attic.  Only this time it’s school prints.

Michael Rothenstein school print tree felling from eBay

And we didn’t win a single one of them.

school print Barbara Jones fairground yard from eBay

Grrr. Full list here if you’re interested.  I reckon he’s made a good thousand pounds out of them already, and there is one more still to go too – this John Nash which is around until 7pm this evening, so be quick.

John Nash school print from Ebay

Apart from that little treasure trove, eBay is fairly quiet at the moment.  Star exhibit is this World War Two Home Front poster, which is I think quite rare, and also only hanging around until early this evening.

Keep it Under Your Hat vintage world war two propaganda poster

I particularly like the mice holding it flat at the top.  A different seller in the United States has a whole selection of various British Home Front posters for sale, of which the most interesting is probably this one.

Vintage world war two propaganda poster house bombing

The seller has called themselves ‘valuable _books_and_ephemera’ which is pretty much asking me to pick a fight with their prices.  The one above is only slightly steep at £49, but the more evocative, if less graphically appealing images like the one below, are on offer for a rather eye-watering £250-ish.

Vintage world war two propaganda poster evacuation reminder

Thank you Mr Valuable, but no thank you.

Also profoundly over-priced is this National Savings poster, which even considering that institution’s track record in producing things I don’t want to look at, is pretty grim.  And yet on a Buy It Now at £70.

vintage 1950s National Savings poster of some horridness

While I’m here, an interesting digression, pointed out to me by regular James Manning.

McKnight Kauffer Daily Herald original birds artwork

That’s the original artwork for McKnight Kauffer’s famous Daily Herald poster, and it went for a whopping €33,500 at an auction in Amsterdam last week.  I wonder who bought it? A museum I hope, it certainly deserves to be in one.

And in the meantime, if any of you have an attic that needs clearing, I’d be only to happy to oblige.

Posted in eBay | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Krol to be kind

We bought this quite a while ago, but only recently got round to photographing it.

Stan Krol vintage GPO poster March 1966 TV and radio licensing

It’s by Stan Krol, and thanks to the BMPA and their lovely online catalogue I can tell you that it’s from March 1966.  A date that slightly surprised me as I would have had it down as late 1950s had I been asked.  And when I look at the catalogue closely, this poster is sandwiched in between lots of other 1950s posters so I am wondering whether this might be a typo.  I will ask them.

What I can’t tell you and don’t know, however, is much about Stan Krol himself.  I’ve been trying to research him for the last week or two and it’s been a useful lesson in two ways.  One is that sometimes it really isn’t possible to find out much other than that someone once designed posters and was born in 1910, the one biographical fact I do have about him.  The other is that not all designers from the past are in fact undiscovered geniuses.  Which isn’t to say that Stan Krol is a bad designer at all, he did some great stuff, like this poster for the Post Office Savings Bank from 1960, when Krol was already turning 50.

Stan Krol vintage Post Office Savings Bank poster 1960

In fact it’s the BPMA archive that can tell me the most about Krol’s career.  He started working for them in the late 1940s, which is when these two usefully informative internal posters come from.

Staff information poster for Telegraph engineers; featuring a telegraph pole. Also included is a proof of this poster, with artist's details on the back. Artist: Krol, Stan.  Printer: Waterlow & Sons Ltd.

Poster explaining the correct procedure for removing manhole covers; featuring a picture of a manhole cover. Artist: Krol, Stan.  Printer: Fosh & Cross Ltd. Vintage GPO poster

He carries on working for them throughout the 1950s.

Stan Krol vintage GPO poster 1950

stan Krol 1956 vintage GPO postal order poster

He carried on throughout the 1960s as well.

Stan Krol vintage Post Office Savings Bank poster 1960

Stan Krol vintage GPO recruitment poste 1962

He was even producing posters for them as late as 1971.

Stan Krol vintage national savings bank poster 1971 decimalisation

When you lay out all of his GPO stuff like that, it’s not a bad selection of work.  But what’s strange is both how little he seems to have done for other people, and how that mostly wasn’t as good.  This, for example, is one of just two posters he did for London Transport.

Stan Krol vintage London Transport poster anniversaries 1966

He also did a fairly standard blue skies BOAC poster at some point, which does make me think of peeling a banana.

Stan Krol vintage BOAC poster 1950s

Along with a United National poster in a similar style

stan Krol vintage poster United Nations

But he was still capable of some surprises too.  I like this ROSPA poster from 1971 more than most people would simply because it has a black cat on it.

Stan Krol vintage ROSPA safety poster 1971

But the two coach posters that I’ve seen of his – both from the 1960s are just plain great.

Stan Krol Morecambe beauty contest vintage coach poster 1967

Stan Krol vintage Bridlington poster 1967 coach poster

Both of these are courtesy of Fears and Kahn; the Morecambe bathing beauties have sadly sold, but Bridlington is still there if it has taken your fancy.

Now that I’ve laid Krol’s work end to end along the blog, I like it a lot more than I did when I began.  He fitted his style to the times very well, a particularly impressive feat when you consider that he was producing his last posters when he was in his 60s.  Yes, he may not be an undiscovered genius, but he was a very good working designer.  And they need celebrating as well.

Posted in designers, Uncategorized | 4 Responses

D I Y Barbara Jones

Barbara Jones is becoming increasingly collectable.  At least that’s the message I’m getting from eBay.  We recently watched a whole collection of BBC schools booklets go past; most went for one or two pounds if they sold at all.  The one exception was this.

Barbara Jones BBC Time and Tune booklet 1960

By Barbara Jones, it sold for £21.50.

All of which preamble is mainly so I can convey my pleasure at getting this for just one squid.

Barbara Jones Woodentops colouring book front cover

It pretty much had to be by Barbara Jones given how similar it is to her Woodentops book, but it also does us the favour of saying so inside.

Barbara Jones woodentops colouring book inside front page

Most of the pages inside have been coloured in – I was going to say sadly, but it isn’t really, it’s just the book being used as it was meant to be.  One or two were missed though, so you can get an idea of what the drawings are like.

Barbara Jones Woodentops colouring book skipping

Leafing through it, I am struck by what hardworking farmers the Woodentop family are.  They haul the hay in with just a horse-drawn cart, collect eggs and get up early for the milking.

Barbara Jones Woodentops colouring book milking picture

All of which would have been quite normal then, but seems like a long-lost rural idyll from the vantage point of today.  And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some colouring-in to do.

Posted in designers, eBay | Tagged | Leave a comment

Beware of the Swarf

Attic find of the year has to be awarded to RoSPA, who went into their warehouse  last year and discovered 700 old posters.  I dream of doing something like that.  Especially if it produces posters like this one.

Leonard Cusden RoSpa poster  1951

This is by Leonard Cusden from 1951, and it’s the original artwork, as is, it seems, much of what was discovered in the back of the warehouse.

Not everything is of quite such high quality graphically, although this Bruce Angrave from the 1940s is rather fine.

Courtesy is Infectious, hand-rendered artwork, road safety, Bruce Angrave, 1940s © The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

While this poster by Digby Willis is just rather fantastic quite regardless of the style.

But Sensible Shoes Protect Your Feet, hand-rendered artwork, industrial safety, Digby Wills, 1954 © The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

I may be needing a copy of that when small Crownfolio hits the teenage years.

Many of the rest, like these two by Roland Davies and F Blake respectively, are more from the Ladybird books or Woman magazine school of design than high graphics.

Journey’s End, poster published by RoSPA and printed by Loxley Brothers, Sheffield, road safety, Roland Davies, 1960s © The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Don’t Lose Sight of Them, Protect Your Eyes at Work, hand-rendered artwork, industrial safety, F Blake, 1954 © The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

While this one, by Gus from 1963, is just plain odd, mostly because it makes me feel very sorry for the hen.

Accidents Don’t Just Happen, They are Caused, hand-rendered artwork, general safety, Gus, 1963 © The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Maybe it’s the gender politics making me uneasy.

Overall, though, the impression that these posters give is that RoSPA’s quality control systems, so thorough during the Second World War and in the years after, disappeared later on.

And they really did have a quality control system; their Publicity Committee was staffed by, amongst others, Tom Eckersley and Ashley Havinden, whose keen eyes really did let little dross through.  Here are the couple of posters that we own from this period, by G R Morris and Eckersley himself.

G R MOrris vintage RoSPA safety poster broken bands hurt hands

vintage Rospa child road safety poster tom eckersley

RoSPA are a really interesting organisation: there is a lot more to say about their posters and I’m rather surprised to discover that I’ve not written anything about them properly on the blog yet.  This is even more surprising given that their wartime posters get a mention in the book (did I mention the book? that I have written one? and that you can order it from Amazonalready?).  But most of what we tend to come across are the later posters, and these in the main would have caused the sensitive disposition of Ashley Havinden some pain I think.

Vintage ROSpa road safety poster 1960s

More posted here if you are a glutton for punishment.  To make up for that, I’ll go through some archives and dig out a few gems one of these days, because there are some great ones to be seen, most notably on VADS.  This one, which I’d never seen before now, is by Theyre Lee Elliott.

Theyre Lee Elliott vintage Rospa safety poster

However, I am a mere amateur in this field, because if you really want to know about RoSPA, the person you need to be reading is Paul Rennie,who wrote his PhD thesis on their wartime poster output, and has condensed this into a couple of articles which you can find here and here.

Rothholz vintage WW2 RoSPA poster

You can even –  such are the wonders of the internet – download his entire thesis from the British Library if you like.  I’d recommend it, it’s a good read.

If you’d rather form your own opinions about the posters, RoSPA are exhibiting 40 of their finds in Birmingham next week.  Two words of warning, though.  Firstly the exhibition is only on for three days.  But perhaps more importantly, RoSPA are mostly exhibiting reproductions rather than the originals themselves.  That said, it would probably still be pretty interesting, so if anyone goes, can you let me know all about it please?

Finally, from one Eckersley to another.  I mentioned this showcard last week when it appeared on eBay.

Tom Eckersley vintage Guinness poster showcard

The starting price was 99p; it finally went for £317.  I know it’s easier to display than a poster but even so, I’m still astonished.  Thoughts and explanations – along with corresponding valuations of the poster itself – in the comments box please.

Posted in archives | Tagged , , | 3 Responses

The book of the website

Well, nearly.

But I have written a book, for the very lovely Shire Publications, about World War Two Home Front posters, and my preview copy arrived in the post just before the weekend.

Home Front Posters Shire books Susannah Walker front cover

Should you wish,  you can pre-order it on Amazon right now.  Which of course you would very much want to do because it’s full of lots of  illustrations of lovely posters, like this one.

Frank Newbould Your Britain Fight for It Now

And this one too.

Lewitt Him Vitamin overcooking WW2 vintage poster ministry of food

Along with a fair bit of me going on about the posters – and then oddities like this, which I just love.

Ministry of Information advertisement about information.  You couldn't make it up

Do you have too much information? Well here’s some information about having too much information.  These were very different days, my friends.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Responses

The People Bring Much More Than Enough For The Service Of The Work

I’m back with the Empire Marketing Board posters once again.  In particular this one, which neatly encapsulates the problem of Empire in a single image.

The people bring.. vintage Empire Marketing Board poster

I rather doubt that it was intended to give exactly that message; nonetheless it is rather brilliant.

This treat comes from a wholly new archive of Empire Marketing Board output in the National Library and Archives of Canada, which I was introduced to by sometime commenter on the blog, Mike Meredith.  It is a treasure chest of things I have not seen before – well over 400 of them in fact, and I haven’t finished sifting through them yet.  Here are just a few for starters, these two by Clive Gardiner in a very modern style.

Blast Furnace Vintage Empire marketing board poster Clive Gardiner

making electrical machinery Vintage Empire marketing board poster Clive Gardiner

While this John Ensor is modern in a slightly different, almost early-1950s kind of way.

John Ensor - Vintage Empire marketing board poster Wine

This collection is a reminder that the EMB was not just exhorting the British people to support the Empire, the colonies had to do their bit as well.

Buy Empire Goods first - Empire Marketing Board poster

Not everything can be a work of art, you know.

But Mike Meredith hasn’t just been looking through the archives, he has also been doing something rather interesting with these posters.  He’s been arranging them as they were meant to be seen.

I’ve mentioned in passing before that the Empire Marketing board had special display stands for their posters.  A rather interesting article (about the EMB’s relationship with the Irish Free State) gives a very good description of what these were like.  The EMB,

displayed approximately one hundred poster series on specially built wooden frames.Each series featured five different posters:three 60 inch by 40 inch pictorial ones and two smaller posters that carried press messages offering details of the country being promoted or messages advancing imperial trade. The five posters on each frame endorsed a linked theme — for example, fruit from the tropics or the value of import – export trade with Australia. By 1933, poster frames at 1,800 different sites graced 450 British towns

The only thing missing from that description is the title strip which ran across the top.  But why should I just tell you about these when I could show you?  Because what Mike Meredith has been doing is stitching together these posters from the archives to get a sense of what they would have looked like when they were on display.

Not only is it brilliant to look at, I also think it’s important too.  Take a single poster – as I have been doing at the top of this post – and they are quite good.  Take a whole set together and they are quite frankly stunning. (Click on the image below to see it at a decent size.)

Buy Empire Goods vintage Empire Marketing board poster strip

They must have looked extraordinary on the streets of Britain in the 1930s, like nothing else that could be seen there.  Surely not even the most jaded observer of city life would have been able to just let their eyes drift over these posters each time the displays were changed.  You would have to stop and stare.

Empire Marketing Board posters as complete strip

Especially at these McKnight Kauffers, which bring all of the glamour of a Hollywood title sequence straight onto the streets of a British town or city.

McKnight Kauffer Empire Marketing Board framed set

The cinema wasn’t the only referent of modernity, this Austin Cooper set links the old-fashioned Victorian Empire with the excitingly modern telephone.

Austin Cooper vintage Empire Marketing Board poster set Order by Telephone

Displayed like this, even graphs could become dynamic symbols of the modern age.

Empire Share vintage Empire marketing board set

But even the more traditional designs have a very different impact when seen en masse.

Australian Scenery vintage empire marketing board posters

Nicholson Empire Marketing Board set of posters

This doesn’t just make me rethink the value of the Empire Marketing Board posters, and the ground-breaking nature of the Board’s work – along with its leading man Stephen Tallents.  It’s also a reminder that, whenever we look at a poster, it’s essential to remember the context in which it was not only produced, but displayed.

Commercial posters of the 1950s were not only bright and jolly because that was the mood of the times.  They were put up against a background of unpainted houses and crumbling war damage, a Britain that was agreed to be grey, dreary and run down.  So their bright colours must have looked a thousand times more vibrant against that monochrome streetscape.

And the EMB posters which, on their own, can seem to be a bit like inoffensive railway posters or pieces of art, take on a whole new energy and surprise in their block displays.

Empire Marketing Board posters is all I know

Sometimes, we can appreciate a poster by looking at it against the white walls of a gallery as though it was a piece of art.  But more often, as is very much the case with these Empire Marketing Board posters, we also lose a lot that way.  A poster, or indeed a set of posters, is not a timeless object, but is produced not just in a single moment and place but also for that moment and place as well.

Carlton Empire Marketing board posters

So if we don’t pay attention to that when and where and how, we will never hear much of what that poster might be able to say to us.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Responses