Service Please

I’ve been meaning to post these two small items for ages.  They came to us with the assorted collection of Daphne Padden design materials which we got earlier this year, but what with them not being flat and all, I’ve only just got round to photographing them.

They’re both designs for Marks and Spencers.  This first one was I think a working design.

Daphne Padden Yoghurt pot design for Marks and Spencer

Although the main image on the pot is printed, there’s a small piece of paper stuck on the back which says 5 ¼oz  (150g).  Perhaps it’s the start of metric weights requiring a small redesign.

The second is very much the finished article though.  It’s a tin, although I can’t say for certain what it ever had in inside, because all it says on the bottom is Marks and Spencers.  Most likely tea though.

Daphne Padden tin design for Marks and Spencers

I particularly love the way that some of the staff are looking out at us as they do their rounds.

Daphne Padden tin design for Marks and Spencers
The Marks and Spencer archive (which will be opening in a spanking new building in Leeds next year) must have tons more of this kind of thing.  Although the company has used some of it recently (if you go into its store cafes, there are large wall panels with a montage of old packaging images, but they’re all cropped and so a bit frustrating),

I think they could do more, like give some of their packaging the Sainsburys treatment.  I’d buy it, anyway.

And a final point, my local library is fantastic.  In the course of writing this, I thought I’d could do worse than look at the Marks In Time book that came out in 2009.  So I ordered it online.  Before I’d finished this piece, the email had come through saying that it was waiting for me whenever I wanted to come and get it.  Who needs Amazon when you’ve got libraries that good.

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The Price of Everything

Today, a miscellany of stuff, mostly for sale.  And it’s a mixed bag of good, bad and ugly.  Shall we start with the latter?

This, um, rarely seen poster is being sold by an American auction house in an internet auction on Sunday.  Although I tell you this more as a warning than an invitation to buy.

British Railways British Transport Hotels 1978 Winterbreak poster

Truly, proof that the golden age of the railway poster was dead and buried by 1978.  Amazingly there is a bid on it too.

To cleanse your eyes after that, some lovely Daphne Padden.  Travel On Paper are selling this classic for what looks to me like a very reasonable dealer price of £275.

Daphne Padden Royal Blue coach poster 1957 fishermen and cat

Now I’m not sure what Daphne Padden is actually worth these days (and I know that I’m saying this from the persepective of someone who’s got quite a few of her posters, and am therefore not exactly an unbiased observer, but hey).  On one hand, other dealers are selling less good posters by Daphne Padden for £450+; on the other, we got our copy of the poster above at Morphets, last year, for just £65 and something else came with it, even if I can’t remember what.  So, what’s the actual value? I haven’t got a clue. Anyway, Travel on Paper are at MidCentury Modern in Dulwich on Sunday 20th if you want to look at some of their posters or just say hello.

Over on eBay it’s the same story, posters of varying quality at seemingly random prices.  Shall we start with cheap, but rightfully so.

Ebay 1950s National Savings Bank poster Casual Earner Regular Saver

It’s a National Savings Bank Poster, but I can’t tell you any more than is on the listing I’m afraid.

While this railway poster, with a similar womens’ magazine styling to its illustration, has a starting bid of $210.

British Railways Southern Region Folkstone poster 1959

 

But it is being sold by a dealer, PosterConnection, so perhaps the price isn’t so surprising.

Meeting them somewhere in the middle is this H M Bateman Save Fuel poster which seems very reasonable at £48 Buy It Now, especially considering it’s 20″ x 30″.

H M Bateman don't be fuelish WW2 propaganda poster

The more I think about that, the more I think it is a bargain; the better known examples of these can go for £200 or more at auction.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The seller also has this ATS poster, from a series which has been mentioned on here before, and I believe is by Beverley Pick.

Beverley Pick World War TWo ATS propaganda poster

This is currently on a £68 Buy It Now, which is rather more like what it would fetch at auction, but still not unreasonable.

Finally in this heap of odds and ends, a couple of follow-ups to previous posts.  When I wrote about John Burningham the other day, I couldn’t find an image of his cats in a boat coach poster that I’d liked so much at the exhibition.  But Liz Dobson very kindly sent me a photo.

John Burningham boatload of cats coach travel poster lovely

I’ll add it to the post as well, but I thought I’d show you here too as it’s so great.  And if you do happen to have a spare one…

And following on from my musings about airline posters, Martin Steenson of Books & Things pointed me at this Lewitt-Him AOA poster, which he currently has for sale.

Lewitt Him AOA poster vintage travel

While it doesn’t have the expansive blue skies or vapour trails of their other posters, I still think this has a strong connection to the visual language of the war in the air.  Because it looks to me like nothing so much as a wartime aircraft recognition poster.

World War Two aircraft recognition poster

Were there other areas where the visual memory of the war spilled out of the national subconscious and into peace time like this?  Surely there must have been: the war was too all-encompassing to be easily forgotten, however hard people wanted to try.

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Blue Sky Thinking

I could really do with a good auction now.  Even though we don’t have the wall space for anything else and probably would end up buying next to nothing, I’d still enjoy the excitement.  So, after Swann Galleries emailed to say that they had a wonderful set of London Transport posters in their forthcoming auctions, I did get my hopes up a bit.

And it is true, they do have some great and rare London Transport posters coming up.  It’s just that they are all too early for my taste (and therefore also too expensive for my means as well).

Montague Black, 2026 vintage London transport poster 1926

Jean Dupas fetches high prices, but it’s all a bit too much out of the Art Deco style manual for me.

Jean Dupas Transport of joy Vintage London Transport poster 1933
Jean Dupas, 1933, est. $2,000-3,000

Quite a few of them are tram posters too, and for some reason I’ve never really fallen in love with a tram poster, not even one for a Pullman tram.

Shop early by tram vintage travel poster Blair 1929
Rene Blair, 1929, $800-1,200

Interestingly, these are a different format to the mainstream of London Transport posters – double crown rather than double royal – and were presumable displayed somewhere else.  But where?  On trams, or on their stops? And why wee they different?  Can anyone enlighten me?

mcKnight Kauffer vintage London Transport theatre poster 1930
McKnight Kauffer, 1930, est. $800-1,200

The McKnight Kauffer above is a classic, but not even that can tempt me.  Only this single Dora Batty has a small attraction for the Crownfolio wallet.

Dora Batty from the country to the heart of town vintage london transport poster 1925
Dora Batty, 1925, est. $1,200-1,800

Mainly because I would like to think of myself as dashing chic-ly into London every so often.  Of course it doesn’t happen, I don’t look like that and even if I did try it would take a whole lot longer than half an hour.  Where can she live that is so bucolic and yet so close? Aylesbury? Guildford? We may never know.

There are plenty more posters along these lines if that’s what you want, but little else to report, apart from one nice David Klein at an even higher price than before.

David Klein New York vintage airline poster TWA 1960

Along with these two airline posters, from the Czech Republic and Australia respectively.

Schlosser CZECHOSLOVAK AIRLINES / IT'S O.K. WITH CSA. Circa 1946. vintage travel poster
Schlosser, 1946, est. $800-1,200

RONALD CLAYTON SKATE (1913-1990) ANA / COVERS AUSTRALIA / COAST TO COAST. Circa 1955.  Vintage travel poster
Ronald Clayton Skate, 1955, est. $800-1,200

Why I find them interesting is that both remind me of the Lewitt Him and Abram Games airline designs of a similar period, and together they represent what seems to be an international visual language of air travel just after the war.  These infinite blue skies are the very newest thing, am image of  how the airlines have made the whole world available to you, at least if you have enough money.

Abram Games BOAC poster 1949
Abram Games, 1949

It’s easy to forget just how exciting and how modern air travel would have been then.  Very few people would ever have seen such open skies before, so of course they became a symbol of the glamour and speed that the new airlines could provide.

Lewitt Him, vintage airline travel poster 1948 Poster Connection
Lewitt Him, 1949

Vintage Lewitt Him BOAC poster 1948
Lewitt Him, 1949.

Except there may be a bit more to it than that.  Because some people had seen those skies before, and a few more people had seen the trails that aircraft could leave too.  The ANA poster at the top reminds me very much of Paul Nash’s painting, The Battle of Britain.

Paul Nash Battle of Britain 1944 IWM good art I thank you

So while these blue skies are on one hand a simple representation of brand new freedoms, I think there is also a bit more meaning within them.  These posters are rewriting some of the most potent imagery of the war, turning it from terrifying to exciting.  There is no need to fear the trails that these aircraft leave, or the wide blue skies in which they fly, not any more.

Battle of the Bulge 1944 vapour trails
Battle of the Bulge, 1944

So these posters are not only being modern, they are also reminding the viewer that this new world has been built out of the conflict that came before.  Swords are forged into ploughshares and the war in the air has brought us intercontinental jets.

Strube vintage world war two RAF poster

 

Henrion BOAC vintage travel poster 1947 Swann
Henrion, 1947.

We might find it hard to make the connection now, but at the time the link must have been very obvious.

Vapour trails from Battle of Britain 1940
Battle of Britain, 1940

Which means that the reassurance and the rewriting must have been very necessary too.

The Few vintage World War Two propaganda poster

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Janus in Great Bardfield

It’s 1949.  Britain is about to begin building the new world after the war.  But as we already know, not everyone wants to look forward or be modern.

King Penguin Life in An English Village Bawden 1949

This is Edward Bawden’s Life in An English Village, published in the format of King Penguin that year.  As the very first line of the essay by Noel Carrington makes clear, this book is a record of a village almost as a historical fossil rather than a living entity.

Because most of us in England have for long dwelt in towns or suburbs of towns, it is inevitable that we should come to know the countryside dweller in secondhand fashion; that is to say, largely through books.

The drawings are of Bawden’s own adopted village of Great Bardfield, in Essex, showing traditional figures like the vicar, or old fashioned shops.

King Penguin Life in An English Village Edward Bawden 1949 vicar

King Penguin Life in An English Village Edward Bawden 1949 baker

In many ways this little book is a response to Ravilious’s High Street, in which he is recording some of the more idiosyncratic shops which are already disappearing from towns before the war.

King Penguin Life in An English Village Edward Bawden 1949 butcher

The sixteen colour lithographs are wonderful, but I almost prefer the line drawings which are scattered throughout the essay, each one celebrating some visual detail that he has observed.

King Penguin Life in An English Village Edward Bawden 1949 dogs line drawing

None of which are, naturally, modern.

King Penguin Life in An English Village Edward Bawden 1949 teapots line drawing

I’ve commented a few times before on how this period is a curious time in British design, and perhaps in the way that people are feeling overall.  The country really is looking forward to a time of equality, plenty and modernism.  But at the same time, some people are aware that when a new era begins, an old one must end.

The more I think about this, the more it reminds me of a new year: plenty of people are looking into the future, but some are still reminiscing about the year which has passed, and which can never be retrieved again.  The Romans knew what they were doing when they made Janus two-faced.

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Missing

Meet Royston Cooper.

Royston Cooper portrait by James Holland

I rather wish I had, actually.  Quite a few people have contacted the blog over the last year or two about him, and they all remember an extraordinary and extrovert character.

The picture was drawn by James Holland, a friend of Royston’s, in 1954, and was very  kindly passed on by the artist’s daughter, Jane.

Rpyston Cooper express coaches to London poster

I would have liked to honour the picture by digging out a few new Royston Cooper designs for you, but frustratingly, I can’t find any.  But they must exist, because not only did Jane Holland remember a campaign he designed for Ribena, but Artist Partners have also put a brief professional biography on their website.  From which you can see that he did simply tons of commercial work which must be out there somewhere, even if most of it probably wasn’t signed.  I think a trip through Designers In Britain may be called for one of these days.

Until I get round to that, however, you can have one of his fine art prints.

Royston Cooper Fine art print on eBay

You can actually have this if you want, because it’s on eBay as a Buy It Now for just £44.99.  I quite like it, but wall space is at a bit of a premium round here so I think we’ll pass.

While I am on the subject of unobtainable delights which have been lost by history, it’s probably worth mentioning the John Burningham exhibition at the London Transport Museum.  He designed a new poster in honour of it, which is mostly ordinary type, but his bit is lovely.

John Burningham London For Children LT poster

We visited the show at the weekend. It’s small but perfectly formed, and contains as well as the better known LT posters, a good handful of designs for coach posters which I’ve never seen before.  One in particular, of cats in a boat, is wonderful, but I can’t find a picture of it anywhere.  The closest I can come is this, on the right, part of a lot from last year’s Morphets sale.

Two Burningham Coach posters from Morphets Guest sale 3

And if anyone can explain to me why this lot went for just £10, and not to us, I’d like to hear it.  Mind you it was Lot 908, I think my brain had probably gone into overload by then.

It’s probably worth reminding you that not only is his autobiography wonderful, but John Burningham is at the LT Museum tonight, in conversation with Robert Elms.  I, sadly, will not be there, as I have a prior engagement with a children’s party at a soft play centre.  Let joy be unbounded.

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Farewell Letter

This day, sixty years ago.  The Festival of Britain site has already closed down for the winter.  But only two days ago the new Conservative Governement has been re-elected, and one of their first actions in office is to announce that the South Bank site will be demolished.

There is still time to write one or two more letters, if you wish.

But it’s very hard to think of anything to say.

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