Right you lucky people, the Onslows Summer auction is upon us and it is time at last to see what is on offer.
Except amongst the things that haven’t been up before, there isn’t very much that makes my heart beat faster. It’s a sale of curiosities and oddities, well for me at least. Things like this very late Ashley Havinden from 1962.
Ashley Havinden, 1962, est. £70-100
This poster won an advertising award but ironically was not a success due to being printed in English.
While this Tom Purvis would be odd on the basis of what it is advertising alone.
What you can’t see from that image is that it is also the size of a house (well, nearly). Here’s the photo taken when it was originally sold in 1990 at the sale of Purvis’s studio.
Don’t say you weren’t warned.
This poster also keeps coming up at the moment (and if I am honest, I keep trying to buy it for cheap and failing).
Onslows don’t give an attribution, but I do swear that says Henrion. Any thoughts, anyone?
Entertainly after the conversations earlier this week, these two Ralph Mott posters have also made an appearance.
Yes, that does say British Railways on the second one. The plot thickens.
There are, of course, plenty more railway posters on offer, and however much I keep going through the listings, none of the classic ones are really speaking to me in this sale. My favourite is probably this one.
I’m as surprised about that as anyone.
In the case of this Alan Durman, I feel as though I ought to like it, but just can’t quite manage to.
Whether this is because it’s not quite as good as the rest of his stuff, or simply because it’s all been a bit overexposed recently, I don’t know. Whichever way round, I doubt that I’m reflecting the majority taste here. But if midcentury we must have, and we must it seems, I’d rather it looked like this.
But it’s not all about railway posters, all the usual categories are there too. Like GPO posters. There’s a slew of these more modern ones.
I like the idea of the Post Office in Space a great deal, but generally my experience with this kind of design is that I can scarcely pay people to take them away. Lets see if Onslows have more luck. There are also one or two good posters too.
This is labelled as Beaumont, but the signature, to my eyes at least, seems to say Reiss. Must find out more about both of them though.
There are also wartime posters by the tonne, of which this is probably the most interesting one.
From which you might conclude, quite rightly, that the remainder are of more interest as memorabilia than for their graphic design value. For example, this Reginald Mayes straddles both WW2 and railway posters, hence the estimate, but I don’t think I’d frame it and hang it up to look at.
Mind you, I’ve had my fill of Union Jacks this month as it is.
There are also London Transport posters too. This pre-war Freda Lingstrom is in my mind a much nicer thing than the Mayes, but is estimated at much less.
One day I will work out the precise price loading which is added for a picture of a steam train.
At the end there are also a nice run of David Klein posters, with some temptingly low estimates.
Or for even less, you can get the understated British version.
There’s a very good reason why the sale has turned out this way, and it’s a point that was made very strongly this week.
The answer is of course eBay, where a whole set of these wartime RoSPA posters was up for auction.
They fetched reasonable prices for slightly battered posters printed on thin paper – this Keeley with a Rothholz on the back went for £67, with the top price being £150.
But once upon a time a lot like this would only ever have been sold at an auction house, probably making its way up to Onslows in the end. But now they don’t. Who’d be an auctioneer these days?