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.


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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Going Postal

The blog has been a little bit overlooked lately.  Apologies for that, I’ve had a rather urgent appointment with some wallpaper that needed to be removed.  It’s been a bad time to be distracted as well, because people – well the readers of this blog to be precise – have been sending me things.  And they’ve been rather good.

Let’s start with these, mostly because I asked for them.  ‘Did Daphne Padden design any other leaflets for British Railways?’, I asked the other day.  The answer is a resounding yes.

Daphne Padden British Railways Leaflet Isle of Man

And here’s another, although I’ll be blowed if I have any idea what a ‘Radio Cruise’ is.  Can anyone enlighten me?

British Railways Brochure Cambrian Radio Cruise Daphne Padden front cover

She even designed the insides of this one too.

British Railways Brochure Cambrian Radio Cruise Daphne Padden inside design

Which include this rather fine map.

British Railways Brochure Cambrian Radio Cruise Daphne Padden map

Are there more out there?  I hope so, although I am anticipating that I might have to do something frightening, like attend a transport ephemera fair, to find them.

Meanwhile through the actual mail box came a small set of  these little London Transport prints – I’m sure there is a precise art historical word for what they are but I’m afraid I don’t know it.  Anyway, they were a fantastic gift all the way from America so thank you very much.

Small London Transport prints - front covers

What I got was four little folders, each containing a small print of a London Transport poster from 1953.  Here’s St James’ Palace by David Lewis.

London Transport poster print david Lewis St James Palace

Each print was the pictorial half of a pair poster, so making the transfer to prints quite well.  I can’t decide whether my favourite is the John Bainbridge or the Sheila Robinson (both artists who deserve further notice on this blog one day).

London Transport poster print John Bainbridge Royal London 1953

London Transport poster print Kensington Palace Sheila Robinson 1953

I have no idea, however, what the purpose of these were.  Were they bought by the public and framed, or where they sent out by London Transport as a form of publicity? Or some other reason that I can’t even guess at.  If anyone can enlighten me, please do.

While we’re on the subject of London Transport, this is also rather good.

London Transport spoof

This also reminds me that I’ve been meaning to mention the work of artist Micah Wright for a while.  He’s been working on ironic modern versions of propaganda posters for a while, and got in contact with the blog to say that we might like this take on Pat Keely. He was right.

Micah Wright version of pat Keely wireless poster

Most of what he does is American in origin, but it’s still very much worth taking a look at his PropagandaRemix website.

Micah Wright propaganda remix war poster

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a wall that needs demolishing.  But if you’ve got anything else to send me in the meantime, please feel free.

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Spot the birdy

Another day on Quad Royal, another bird.  But today’s isn’t any old bird, oh no; this is a Festival of Britain bird.

Joan Nicholson needlework bird Festival of Britain

Yes really.  This very bird was made to ornament some of the room sets in the Festival and it’s not just a copy but the actual thing.  So what’s it doing on my coffee table (other than for me to take not very good photographs of it)?

Birds by Joan Nicholson from Festival of Britain

A fewof these birds – along with many other delights –  came to visit earlier this summer thanks to their current owner, Nancy Nicholson.   Nancy is not only a textile and pattern designer in her own right, but is also the daughter of one of the power couples of 1950s design, Roger and Joan Nicholson.

I’ve written briefly about Roger Nicholson before (since then I’ve discovered even more of his contribution to design at the time and really owe him another post one day). Joan was a talented designer in her own right whose most famous commission was the wall hanging for the Queen’s bedroom on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Queens Bedroom on Royal yacht britannia with embriodery by Joan Nichsolson

She also wrote several classic books about embroidery and produced some delightfully idiosyncratic designs – here’s just one.  I hope to show you some more in due course.

Joan Nicholson needlepoint

But back to the birds.  In 1951, Roger Nicholson, along with his brother Robert,  designed a number of the room sets in the Homes and Gardens Pavilion at the Festival of Britain  This, for example, is the Headmaster’s Study.

Roger Nicholson Headmaster study roomset for Festival of Britain

At some point, it was decided that the rooms were all looking a bit austere and needed a bit more decoration.  So Joan Nicholson was asked if she could help.  The result was these birds.

Joan NIcholson bird ornamenents from Festival of Britain

These have to be incredibly rare – how many actual items which were displayed at the Festival still exist? Not many I would guess.  But they’re also interesting because they do something which I always enjoy, which is disrupt the conventional narrative of the Festival of Britain.

Roger Nicholson Room design Festival of Brigain

The story of interior decoration at the Festival is always supposed to be one of a Scandinvian style modernism which sweeps all before it, including decorative clutter.  But take another look at these rooms.  Yes, they may not have the array of knick-knacks which would have graced a 1930s fireplace.  But ornaments haven’t entirely disappeared.  The headmaster up there has some odds and ends on his shelf, while the farmer for whom this dining area was designed has a whole trophy cabinet of pewter as well as a rather covetable china bull.

Roger Nicholson Farmer room Festival of Britain Homes and Gardens

So when we remember the Festival of Britain, let’s not just honour the Robin Day chairs and Terence Conran tables, let’s honour the ornaments too.  Because the reality is always so much more complicated than the myth.

More than that, we must also remember the people who weren’t Robin Day and Terence Conran, but who also made the Festival what it was.  People like Joan and Roger Nicholson.

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Deja vu all over again

I seem to have come back from holiday only to wander into a fold in time, because at least some of the posters on offer out there seem strangely familiar.

Lets start with Dreweatts in Bristol, who are once again selling the work of Percy Drake Brookshaw.

Percy Drake Brookshaw Boat Race poster 1927 London Transport
Percy Drake Brookshaw, 1927, est. £150-200

This is not a new thing, in fact it’s something which has been going on almost since the very beginning of this blog.

Percy Drake Brookshaw Wimbledon tennis London Transport poster 1928
Percy Drake Brookshaw, 1928, est. £200-300

The only real change being that they have got slightly more realistic in their estimates.

Percy Drake Brookshaw shell poster cricket just out 1933
Percy Drake Brookshaw, 1933, est. £300-400

Although I can’t remember these posters ever coming up before.

Percy Drake Brookshaw Green Line posters 1936 London Transport
Percy Drake Brookshaw, 1936, est. £200-300

Once again, they are provenanced from the artist’s family by direct descent.  I can only imagine, with some envy, the stack of posters they must have had before they started selling.

Elsewhere in auctionworld, a curiosity in Bloomsbury’s British Art Sale.  Even they describe it as ‘a macabre vision’.

Betty Swanwick RA (1915-1989) Safety First!' a macabre vision for a Ministry of Transport poster
Betty Swanwick, est. £1,000-1,500

It’s a design for a poster, although not one I’ve ever seen.  Maybe even the ministry thought it was a step too far.  There are some examples of her painting up for sale too – I rather like this.

Betty Swanwick RA (1915-1989) The Gardeners
Betty Swanwick, est. £1,500-2,000

Although the price is once again a reminder why we collect posters rather than fine art.  I’m sure there are lots more wonderful things lurking in that auction too, but I don’t dare take a very close look in case I start spending money which is meant to be used for house renovation.

Meanwhile on eBay, there’s more on offer than I’d normally expect to find in the doldrums of August, and they’re proper posters too.  The kind that you might normally expect to find in auctions.  Let’s start with a handful of classic railway posters.  Well, post-war classics at least.

British Railways poster

That – by Ronald Lampitt and dating from 1952 – is my favourite, but there’s also this Lander, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.  Or at least not noticed.

Lander British railways poster 1952 Northern Ireland

But it’s this Kenneth Steele which seems to be the most popular with the bidders so far.

British Railways poster loch ness Kenneth Steele

The price as I write stands as £221, with more than four days to go.

Also doing well are a set of three Empire Marketing Board posters from the 1930s.

Chas Pears Empire Marketing board poster Gibraltar

The Gibraltar example above, by Chas Pears, has already reached £122, but you can still have his version of the Suez Canal for a bid over £5.59 if you like.

Chas Pears Empire Marketing board poster  Suez Canal 1930s

Finally, an oddity from our old friends PosterConnection.  I don’t suggest that you actually buy this, what with it costing $400 and all, but it’s worth a look.

London Transport poster Music in London, by Hans Unger and Eberhard Schulze, 1964

It’s by our old friends Hans Unger and Ebhard Schulze, but it’s not a plain mosaic, rather it’s a collage with a bit of mosaic in.

The poster is also missing the text beneath  – here is the LT Museum copy by way of comparison.

Music in London, by Hans Unger and Eberhard Schulze, 1964

Although whether that makes it worth more or less I have no idea. Any thoughts?

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We have now returned, after a fortnight which did look, at times, like this.

Sadly I couldn’t find a poster for our nearby resort, the delightfully named Tranche-sur-Mer, or Slice-on-Sea, so you’ll just have to believe me on that one.

Quite a lot of this was also consumed.

Back to things British shortly, when I’ve worked out what, if anything, has happened in my absence.  Do let me know what I’ve missed.

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