Visual Signalman

Despite the holidays, there are a few faint signs of life on eBay now.  In fact more than faint, as this 1963 Tom Eckersley went for a whopping £123.65 a few days ago.  Not to us, I hasten to add.

Tom Eckersley vintage London Transport poster 1960s Cutty sark

I’m not sure what’s going on here.  It may be that later Eckersley posters are starting to rise in value, which would make sense as they certainly seem to be very popular out there on the visual web. Equally, it could be that people are engaging in silly bidding because there is so little else on offer right now.

It’s not just the Eckersleys either. The seller had a few more London Transport posters for auction, so this John Farleigh went for £83 too, in spite of some of the more eccentric (and less informative) photographs I’ve seen for a while.  This is the best, which isn’t saying much.

John Farleigh vintage London Transport poster eBay tulips lo winter is past

They dated it as 1960s but it looks a bit earlier to me.  But I can’t find it on the London Transport Museum site or indeed anywhere else, so if someone out there knows more, I’d love to hear from you.

We did get this Carol Barker for just £23, though.

Carol Barker vintage Hampstead poster London Transport

She’ll be fashionable one of these days, you mark my words.

Elsewhere on eBay, in America to be precise, there are a set of three World War Two British Navy posters for sale.  They’re pretty expensive too, at $140 a pop starting price, but I mention them because they are quite interesting.

Visual Signalman vintage world war two propaganda poster British Navy

They’re a celebration of what are clearly some of the less exciting jobs within the Navy – Stores Assistant anyone?  Although I don’t know whether their aim is recruitment, or just to reassure the people in these jobs that they are also a valuable part of the Navy too.

Stores Assistants vintage world war two poster ebay

What makes them really interesting is that I have never ever seen them anywhere else before (and goodness knows I have been looking at more than enough World war Two posters over the last few months).  They are by an artist called M Bertram about whom I know nothing either and generally they are a complete mystery.  But I do think they are real.

Finally, my searches for the John Farleigh poster above did lead me to this.  Which needs no further comment really.

John  Farleigh poster vintage London Transport 1937 yes really

Posted in eBay | Tagged , , , | 2 Responses

A moving story

This, as it turns out, is an appropriate message from James Fitton.

James Fitton abbey Road poster

We bought it at the last Onslow’s auction (in the after sale, to be precise) but have only just got round to picking it up.  Fitton’s sense of colour is as brilliant and unique as ever; the more I see of his work, the more I like it.

The timing is perfect though, as family Crownfolio are moving house in exactly two weeks.  So Quad Royal may be a bit erratic for the rest of August as broadband is transferred and I try to pack a rather excessive amount of stuff into boxes.  Apologies in advance, and a normal service will definitely resume in September.

Posted in auctions, designers | Tagged | Leave a comment

Lovely Decca mono sound from the fifties

More importantly, wonderful graphic design from the period too.

Tom Eckersley vintage Decca record cover graphic design

By Tom Eckersley, of course, and currently available on eBay for just £4.99.  End of broadcast.

Posted in designers, eBay | Tagged | Leave a comment

The eyes of the past

Today we are once again singing the praise of an archive, but one at a slight tangent to our usual interests.  The Persephone Post alerted me to the existence of English Heritage’s Viewfinder, which is the online archive of their photographic collections.

The title suggests that you’re meant to put in a place and see what you can discover; I decided (unsurprisingly) to see what happened if you put in poster.  It’s much more interesting.

Once you’ve got past the odd collection of turn of the century topographic posters,

Great Marlow poster from oxfordshire CC collection on EH viewfinder

And the 1970s.

Charing Cross Station in 1970 from EH viewfinder

As well as the numerous four poster beds (I won’t actually bother), there are a few gems, of which the best of all is this.

Fortnam Road, Holloway in late 50s from EH viewfinder

It’s Fortnam Road, Upper Holloway, probably facing onto the Holloway Road.  I used to live round there, once upon a time, although long after this picture was taken.

These posters, meanwhile, are in Manchester in 1956.

Failsworth Manchester 1956 from EH viewfinder

Notably there isn’t a decent piece of design to be seen on a wall anywhere.  I wish I liked earlier posters a bit more, because then I’d find this picture mesmerising.

Port Sunlight poster storeroom 1897 from EH viewfinder

It’s the poster and publicity storeroom at the Port Sunlight works in 1897 and its stock is probably worth hundreds of thousands of pounds today.

Although for those of us who like our graphics a bit more modern, the archive does have one intriguing piece of design.

Cold war posters from eH Viewfinder

Four CoI posters, probably designed for within the Civil Service, and photographed for a mysterious Cold War project.  I would love to know more about what English Heritage was about with that, and where the rest of it is.

But there are plenty of other words to put in too.  ‘Cat’ is entirely off-topic for Quad Royal really, but produced this fine trio in Shephards Market in Mayfair.

Cats in Shephards Market Mayfair from c1960 EH viewfinder

The works or office cat is something which has now entirely disappeared, but when H V Morton walked the City of London at night in the 1930s, the streets were alive with office cats, free to be wild now that the workers had gone.

While inputting the obvious place name did at least bring me this fine fireplace from 1680.

Trinity Street fireplace from  EH Viewfinder

It apparently lives in the next street from us. For the next three weeks at least.

Posted in archives | 2 Responses

Advanced or gimmicky?

It’s a bit unfair to apply too much hindsight to other people’s critical judgements.  Classics are sometimes not spotted as such at the time, while designs that are feted often don’t stand the test of time.

But in the case of posters, it’s so rare to get any kind of contemporary reaction to them that I really can’t resist.  The posters in question are Patrick Tilley’s series for the Sunday Times from 1960, of which this is possibly the most famous.

Patrick Tilley provocative Sunday Times poster 1960

Now I’ve mentioned them on Quad Royal a few times before (here and here for example) and every time I have, the posters have been enormously popular.  As is only right, because they are great bits of design, especially considering how early they were produced.

Alert Patrick Tilley sunday times vintage poster 1960

But at the time, the reaction was a bit more snitty.  The critic, one Stuart Lewis writing in Advertisers’ Weekly, is fairly certain about that.

I certainly do not regard them as important poster art.

He also doesn’t think they’ll sell the product, because the style is ‘more suited to the promotion of an intellectual left-wing periodical, or a poetry quarterly’ than a national newspaper.  Although, in the end, he is generous enough to leave the verdict open.

Sunday times vintage poster patrick tilley 1960

I don’t know whether they sold newspapers or not, but I think the jury would be finding pretty emphatically in favour of the posters these days.  They certainly wouldn’t find them shocking, as the article suggests that people did at the time.  (I’ve put the complete review at the bottom, if you want to read the whole thing for yourself.)  I find it pretty hard to be shocked by any of the series of posters, but that’s one reason why it’s good to come across articles like this now and then.  Because the way we see posters, and indeed any other kind of design now, may not be anything like the way they were perceived at the time.  Which has to be borne in mind if we want to read anything into them.

Accurate sunday times poster patrick tilley 1960

A couple of extra points by way of an addendum.  Firstly, the perceptive poster was quite comprehensively plagiarised a few years ago for Modest Mouse (evidence here if you want to see) and so I suppose must be a design classic.  Also, if you were wondering how these posters look quite so neat and tidy (and indeed digital) despite being more than fifty years old, Patrick Tilley cleaned up the scans and adjusted the colours himself.  So this is what they would have looked like if they’d been made now.

And now over to Mr Lewis.

Tilley review part 1

review part 2

Posted in designers, posters | Tagged | 4 Responses

Travel, send, deliver

Please accept my apologies in advance, but Quad Royal is going to be a bit flakey for the next few weeks.  Not only is it the summer holidays, but we are apparently moving house next month too.  A normal service will resume in September, I hope.

None of which is the reason for the short state of today’s post, that’s all eBay’s fault.  The summer holidays have got to them before they have me, and there really isn’t very much out there for the picking.  But I did want to point out this.

Karo Book here coach poster 1950s from eBay

It’s a bit expensive at £150 (or possibly quite a lot expensive if I’m honest) but it’s by Karo, and it’s rather good.  Now I know very little about him, and haven’t been able to find out much more, but what I can say is that pretty much every single bit of his work that I come across, I like.  He seems to have done quite a few bits for the GPO during the 1950s and 1960s, including a few very wonderful Properly Packed Parcels Please posters.  Unfortunately the BPMA’s catalogue is down right now, so you’ll have to put up with our slightly more homely photographs of the couple we have.

Karo Properly Packed Parcels Please Vintage GPO poster 1968

Karo Properly packed parcels please vintage GPO poster 1968

They’re both from 1968 and one day when we have enough walls that top one will be framed and up on them.  This one already is.

Karo Sending Soft Fruit by post 1952 vintage gpo poster

I know I’ve posted that before, but it still amuses me far more than it should, as well as being a lovely thing to look at too.

Karo also did quite a few coach posters as well as the one which is up for sale – a good dozen at least must have come up in the last Morphet’s Malcolm Guest sale.  This went for £140.

Karo Happy Christmas Travelling from Malcolm Guest Morphets

But in amongst all of that, I can find out almost nothing about him and his life.  So if anybody does know something, please do get in touch.

And finally, given the recent discussion of vans, this.

Austin van lovely brochure from eBay

At just 99p right now with only a day and a half to go, it’s a bit of a bargain.  But it’s also a reminder that the modern design wasn’t the only game in town back in the 1950s, and the Ladybird Books school of illustration was probably as equally ubiquitous.

Posted in designers, eBay | Tagged , , | 2 Responses