Just squeezing this post in close to the wire, as the next Christies Poster Sale has rather crept up on me and turns out to be tomorrow. But still, I do assume that most of you – no, actually, make that every last one of you – only read this blog in the spirit of a window shopper rather than a purchaser. All opinions here are both personal and biased, and definitely not intended to be investment advice.
That said, back to the window shopping. And I’m feeling quite well disposed towards the Christies sale for once, and I think there’s a very simple reason for it. The English posters are first in the catalogue.
McKnight Kauffer, 1931, est. £8-12,000
There, I told you it was simple, but it is nonetheless true. They’re not just shoved in between some Muchas and a load of other French posters, for once they get pride of place. And so the sale begins with a nice slew of London Underground posters, including the very expensive McKnight Kauffer above (other expensive McKnight Kauffers are also available should you so wish) and a rather cheaper Edward Bawden at just a tenth of that estimate.
Edward Bawden, 1936, est. £800-1,200
It then moves on to the best set of Shell posters I’ve seen at auction for some time. All the classics that you’ve ever wanted to own (alright, all the ones I’ve ever wanted to own at least) are out there, starting with the graphic designers.
Eckersley-Lombers, 1938, est. £800-1,200
Hans Schleger (Zero), 1938, est. £1,000-1,500
And then moving on to the fine artists.
Paul Nash, 1937, est. £800-1,200
Graham Sutherland, 1937, est. £800-1,200
The Nash and the Sutherland are oft-reprinted classics, but the Bawden is less well known but still rather lovely, although admittedly none of these come at the most affordable of prices.
Edward Bawden, 1936, est. £1,000-1,500
It’s worth noting that the Bawden is more expensive because, like quite a few other posters in the sale, it is the lead item in a job lot. Here there are three other Shell posters on offer, also including Llanthony Abbey by one of my minor obsessions, Denis Constanduros.
I have two observations about this. One is that the set up is a bit poor for those of us who are only able to view via the internet, because the three other posters are not shown anywhere on the website. (The image above is one that I’d used previously on the blog, and nothing to do with the actual poster up for auction.)
The other is to do with Christies’ minimum lot price, which is presumably something even heftier than the original £500 these days. Goodness knows I have gone on about this often enough, but now they do seem to be a bit hoist by their own decision, because they’ve been forced to have a lot of combined lots when the auction would have been a lot better as just single lots really. How do I or anyone else know what that Bawden is actually worth now? Or the Constanduros come to that? I know that’s not the function of auctions, they exist to sell things, but even so, it’s annoying. And the deal would be even more even more annoying if I wanted to buy the Bawden, because then I’d have to offload the other three posters. And if I wanted to buy the Constanduros, well I would be in an apocalyptic fury by now.
But enough of that, and back to the offerings. There aren’t many railway posters for once, but this Purvis is rather lovely.
Tom Purvis, c.1935, est £2,000-3,000
While this is both enormous – three metres by two – and rather pleasingly bonkers.
Anonymous, est. £800-1,200
Brine bath follow by a “Q” Ray Radium Pad anyone?
And that’s about it for the British posters, well apart from this specimen.
Anonymous, 1939, est. £6-8,000
They’d better stop finding these, and sharpish, otherwise those values are going to plummet.
And that’s about your lot. Well, apart, obviously, from lots of other, foreign posters, for which this Cassandra can stand representative.
Cassandre, 1931, est. £7-9,000