Christmas Joy

Another set of festive posters from the BMPA today.  These three have nothing in common other than that they are all wonderful.  Oh, and I’d love to own a copy of each and every one of them.

This first one is a wartime design by Hans Schleger from 1943.

Hans Schleger Vintage GPO wartime ww2 post early Christmas poster stocking

While I can tell you next to nothing about this one at all: only that the artist is Davies and it dates from 1946,  Any more information (and of course copies of the poster) gratefully received.

Davies vintage post early GPO poster 1946 robin skating

Finally a much later Hans Unger from 1964.

Hans Unger Vintage shop post early GPO poster 1964 Father Christmas stamp

But all of them both good design and very cheerful.  Happy Christmas Posting everyone.

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War Games

When I posted this Games poster on the blog last week, I mentioned that there was more to be said about the subject.

Abram Games your britain fight for it now vintage WW2 poster 1942

I’ve been meaning to write about Abram Games’ war posters for a while now and that poster (which incidentally fetched £950 at Onslows when it was sold a few days ago) has finally made me do it.

Games did design some of the most striking and, in a few cases controversial, posters of the war, but you might be wondering how much more there is to be said than that.

Abram Games ATS poster blonde bombshell vintage World War Two poster

But these posters are actually an exception to the usual run of WW2 Home Front posters, something which isn’t often pointed out.  To start with, they were almost entirely designed for a particular subset of the Home Front: the serving soldier, whether at home or abroad.

Abram Games Kit ticket army poster vintage world war two propaganda

This is because Games didn’t work for MoI or one of the other ministries, nor even for one of the advertising agencies.  He created his own job in the army, which gave him great freedom to do exactly what he wanted – not only could he choose his style but in some cases he even chose the subject matter too.

Abram Games ventilate your quarters vintage ww2 army propaganda poster

Later on in the war he also had Frank Newbould as his assistant, which, given that Games was 27 and Newbould was a rather more experienced 59, must have been an interesting situation.  (If you want to know more about Games’ wartime service, there’s a good section on it in this book.)

This situation  meant that  Games was able, unlike almost any other designer in the war, to produce a coherent set of poster which were modern in both their design and their social message.  Sometimes their subject matter and execution were the same as the mainstream Home Front publicity and posters.

Abram Games Grow Your Own Food vintage ww2 propaganda poster army

On occasion, though, they were very different.  For example, Games’ army equivalent to the Careless Talk Costs Lives has a graphic representation of the possible results.  Men will die.

Abram Games Your Talk May Kill Your Comrades WW2 army propaganda poster

The above poster is perhaps the best-known, but the design below is even more explicit.

Abram Games Talk Kills vintage army poster world war two propaganda

Nothing similar was ever produced for the general public.  Whether posters should show such direct consequences of careless talk was debated more than once within the Ministry of Information during the war.  But the MoI always decided against ‘pictures which hurt’, turning down one proposed campaign as ‘too tough and realistic’.  Even this design by Norman Wilkinson kept death at arm’s length; the men in the foreground have survived.

NOrman wilkinson a few careless words vintage ww2 propaganda poster

When Games’ posters are included in more general surveys of Home Front posters, without any explanation of why they are different, this subtlety disappears.  The posters, instead, are seen to cover all approaches when that wasn’t the case.

Perhaps the most important results of Games’ freedom to work was the Your Britain Fight For It Now series.  These posters were not only designed by Games but Newbould too.

Frank Newbould Your Britain Fight For It Now ww2 propaganda poster army ABCA

The results are an example of their partnership of modern and traditional working at its best; the different posters would have appealed to very different people and so the message would have got across to the widest possible public.

Frank Newbould Your Britain Fight For It Now vintage ww2 propaganda poster army ABCA

But that’s a digression, because what’s important about these posters is their message.  Newbould’s posters are exhorting the soldiers to fight for an image of an idealised and traditional Britain (located, as this deep Britain tends to be, in the countryside).  Games’ designs use the same slogan but have a different message.  Fight, he is saying, for a better Britain after the war, and he locates this future in an urban and modern idiom.

Vintage world war two poster ABCA Abram Games

In the wake of the Beveridge Report in 1942, this wasn’t a particularly novel idea.  But it wasn’t one which was being expressed in posters elsewhere.  The Ministry of Information repeatedly applied to the Cabinet for permission to produce sets of posters along these lines, but the request was always turned down, quite possibly on the orders of Churchill himself.

Abram Games abca Finsbury Health Centre rickets vintage ww2 poster

All of which gives further resonance to Churchill’s banning of the Finsbury Health Centre poster above.  (I’ve written a fuller explanation of the controversy here if you would like to know more.)

The Ministry was clearly frustrated by this restriction, as can be seen by its use of Walter Spradbery’s The Proud City series

London The Proud City Walter Spradbery Vintage London Transport poster WW2

This series of posters came into being because they were commissioned by the London Passenger Transport Board, another organisation which was less constrained than the Ministry in terms of the propaganda it could produce.  But the MoI made use of this loophole too, paying not only for the posters to be printed in the tens of thousands, but also to be translated into multiple languages and distributed to Britain’s allies.

London The Proud City Walter Spradbery Vintage London Transport poster WW2 in Arabic

All of which underlines why it is so important to separate out Games’ work from the broader mass of Home Front posters and propaganda.  Because if they are all just lumped in together, as is so often the case, the results are misleading.

Games vote poster army world war two

Not only do we see a much more modern set of posters than the average person in the street ever did, we also believe that this message of building a better Britain was a commonplace.  But in doing so we are imposing our retrospective justifications for the war onto the past – and distorting it.  Because at the time this kind of propaganda was not taken for granted; rather it was something controversial and disputed – and what’s more, something which was definitely not seen on the streets of Britain during the war.

Abram Games army education poster world war two propaganda

If you think, incidentally, that I’ve been banging on about World War Two posters quite a bit recently, I have.  There is a good reason for this, too, but all will be revealed in the New Year.

All images, once again, from the VADS/IWM online archive.

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Do Your Christmas Shopping Now

Last year saw the Quad Royal Advent Calendar, a festive poster for each of the 24 days.  Unsurprisingly, most of the posters came from the GPO, the institution most keen that  you should get your act together before Christmas.  So keen, in fact, that not even an entire advent calendar could do justice to the quantity and quality they produced.

So, every so often before Christmas, I am going to have a festive wallow in the BPMA archive: because it’s Christmas, because I can, and because there are so many wonderful posters to be seen.

Post Early vintage Barnett Freedman poster GPO 1937

Today’s set come from Barnett Freedman, who was improvising around a theme in 1937 and 1938.

Barnett Freedman vintage GPO poster 1937 Christmas Shopping

Barnett Freedman vintage GPO poster 1938 Shop Now

I particularly like the peremptoriness of this pair, but they are all beautiful.

Barnett Freedman vintage GPO poster 1937 Post Early

Although Barnett Freedman was definitely a poster designer (producing well over 30 for London Transport alone), I never really think of him as one.  I think that’s probably because the detail of his typography and design is always worthy of a closer look rather than the quick glance a big poster might only get.

But that’s why these four work so well. They’re little Crown Folios, designed for display at the counter, so people would have had plenty of time to look at them as they queued for their stamps.  I did that last week; there wasn’t a single thing as nice as these anywhere to be seen.

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Far Away

I have been ill this week and am still not quite up to writing cogent sentences about anything that I said I would.  So apologies for the gap in service, but I can offer you something very nice to look at instead.

Motif 4 vintage graphics Hans Unger in Africa

This is Motif 4.  Hans Unger has been travelling in Africa.  Here’s the back cover too.

Motif 4 vintage graphic magazine rear cover Hans Unger

The covers are perhaps the best thing about this very lovely magazine.  But there is more inside too.

Motif 4 vintage graphic magazine Hans Unger illustration

 

Perhaps not quite what you’d expect from him, but still rather good I think.

Motif 4 vintage graphic magazine illustration Hans UngerMotif 4 vintage graphic magazine illustration Hans Unger

Normal posting will, I hope, be resumed next week.

 

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Guinness Time

There’s not a great deal I can say about this.  It’s by Tom Eckersley and is from 1970.

Tom Eckersley Guinness Time cover 1970

The magazine is the Guinness in house magazine, and unless you want to see pictures of Edward Heath drinking Guinness and find out more about the Suggestions Awards, the contents are not enthralling.  So here’s the back.

Guinness Time cover reverse Eckersley

A slight departure from his usual minimalism and so good to see.  And, er, that’s it.

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Shop Early Post Early

Apologies in advance if this post ends up being a bit like the parish newsletter today, but there are a few things I’d to tell you about, even though they aren’t entirely related.  So bear with me, and the flower rota will be at the end.

Firstly and also excitingly, the BPMA have also got in contact with Pieter Huveneers, and he is going to answer some questions on their blog in January.  So if there’s anything you’d like to ask him about poster design, the GPO or being a design guru in Australia, now is your chance.  All the details are on their blog.

Huveneers vintage GPO poster artwork 1952

The artwork above with the bite taken out of it is from their collections, as is the poster below.

Huveneers vintage television licence GPO poster 1953

This is of course a poster announcing the arrival of a medium – television – which would in the end kill the poster itself stone dead.  Still, Huveneers wasn’t to know.

While I’m on the subject of the BPMA, they are once again selling lovely poster Christmas cards, including this lovely Hass.

Derek Hass 1950s vintage GPO post early shop early poster. gotta love it

But there are a whole range of designs, quite a few of which have already featured on Quad Royal before now, and you may find them here.

Most of the rest of our parish consists, as ever, of eBay.  In summary, there are some nice posters out there; however people mostly want rather larger sums of money for them than we – along with I suspect most of the rest of the parishioners – are prepared to pay.  With that in mind, here’s the best of the bunch.

Dorrit Dekk vintage London Transport poster Londoners

Your starter is a lovely Dorrit Dekk, mounted on linen too.  Starting price, £224-ish (it’s in America), although it doesn’t deserve that on the grounds of the foreshortened photography alone.

Another photography award goes to the seller of this Pye Radio poster, who has managed to photograph it looking like a giant billboard on the A4.

Pye Radio vintage poster

It is in fact only 74cm long, which probably also means that £49.99 is a fairly optimistic valuation.

Vintage guinness poster r peppe hat 1962

Guinness Evening news

All of which means that when both the above Guinness posters start at a slightly more reasonable £99, I am pleasantly surprised.  The top one is, I think, by R Peppe and dates from 1962, although the listing doesn’t tell you any of that.  The other one I have never seen before in my life, and all I can find out is that it might be by someone called E Hanna, so if anyone can enlighten me further about it, please do.  Rather good, though, don’t you think?

Cheaper, and possibly even more fantastic still, are these two Australian emigration posters.

Vintage Australia emigration poster

Vintage australian emigration poster

The listing (which in turn wins a prize for being one of the longest I have ever encountered) describes them as being possibly the work of Douglas Annand.  A brief trawl through google leaves me unconvinced, but he did do this poster.

Douglas Annand vintage P&O poster 1950s australia

And also these rather great P&O Menu cards too (via this Australian blog).

Douglas Annand vintage P&O menus

Regardless of whether he did those other two posters, they are very still good.  Even better, both auctions started at a thoroughly reasonable £9.99, but with bids already in I am expecting them to go higher.

Digression over, I can also tell you that it is possible to buy expensive posters in places other than eBay.

Vintage GPO properly packed parcels please poster 1966.

This GPO poster is up for auction by Poster Auctions International with an estimate of $400-600.  I’m usually quite fond of this series of posters, but this one has to be one of the least appealing.  So have this one as a palate cleanser instead.

Properly Packed Parcels Please Tom Bund poster 1967

There that’s better, isn’t it.  All that remains a reminder that the Church Christmas Fair is this Saturday and Holy Communion is at the usual time of 11.30 on Sunday.  See you all then.

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