Rail comfort

For goodness sake, I’d just written an entire paragraph pointing out that this is half term, I’m meant to be having fun but instead the auctions are coming at me so thick and fast that I can’t keep up with them.  And then WordPress only went and lost it.  Which didn’t exactly make things better.

So we’ll dispense with the preamble and get on with the auction.  Fortunately for both your entertainment and my good humour, there are two rather good ones coming up.  (The implicit comparison here is with the forthcoming Christies poster sale which is dreary in the extreme and so will be summarily despatched next week instead).

First up is the GW Railwayana Auction at Pershore, which contains enough posters to constitute a full sale on their own.  But fear not, you can still also buy a GWR bottle should the urge strike you.

GWR Refreshment Department Swindon small Cod Bottle standing 7½" tall

It’s a small COD bottle.  Insert your own fish jokes here.

Or, alternatively, have a poster of some fish.  On holiday.

Poster, British Railways 'Brixham Devon - Where Summer comes early Travel by Train' by Parton

Of course there is one thing which prevents the GWRA sale from being like a proper poster auction which is that, still, despite all my complaints, there are few dates and furthermore, no estimates.  So you pays your bid and you takes your chances.  Or, if you’re me, you don’t.  And I won’t even be tempted to do so by this Daphne Padden poster, either.

Poster, British Railways 'Llandudno' by Padden, D/R size. Depicts a family standing on raised castle shape with a large beach type umbrella above. Published by British Railways London Midland Region and printed by Stafford & Co

If you share my tastes, then the other prize lot is probably this Eckersley.

Poster BR 'Paignton' by Eckersley, D/R size. Depicts the classic image of young girl on beach with a huge beach ball held in front. Published by BR Western Region, printed by Charles & Read

But there are also a few other noteworthy lots, including a Lander which is entirely new to me.

Poster, British Railways 'Come to Beautiful Wales - Cymru Ambyth' by Lander, D/R size. Depicts the Welsh National Flag with traditional costumed lady beside a harp and between St David's Cathedral and Caernarvon Castle. Published by British Railways London Midland Region and printed by Charles & Read

While Pat Keely’s vision of the future via Centrepoint doesn’t come up often enough.

Poster, London Transport 'Twenty Mile Sightseeing Bus Tour of the West End and City - Runs daily from Buckingham Palace Road (near Eccleston Bridge, Victoria Station) fare 4/- (children 2/-)' by Pat Keely, D/R size

This image of Nottingham, meanwhile is by Kerry Lee, about whom I know precisely nothing, but it’s rather good, don’t you think?

Poster BR 'Nottingham - Travel There In Rail Comfort' by Kerry Lee D/R size. A collage of famous buildings and local amenities/activities. Published by British Railways London Midland Region and printed by Waterlow & Sons.

These two posters, by Bromfield and Stevens respectively aren’t exactly news, but it’s still good to see them up for sale.

oster BR(S) 'Swanage - Fast Trains from London Waterloo' by Bromfield, D/R size. Impressionist view of the Bay. Published by BR Southern Region, printed by Chromoworks Ltd

Poster, British Railways 'Porthcawl - For Happy Health Holidays' by Stevens, D/R size. Depicts a young boy with hands full with everything for the beach and Coney Beach Pleasure Park in the background. Published by British Railways (Western Region) 1956/57 and printed by Jordison & Co

And the catalogue is prepared to tell me that the Stevens, at least, dates from 1956/7.

That’s by no means the end of it, either.  There are plenty more posters that I have a soft spot for, like this Frank Sherwin.

Poster BR(S) 'Kent - The Garden Of England' by Frank Sherwin, Q/R size. View across hop fields and orchards with oast house and church beyond. Published by British Railways Southern Region and printed by Waterlow & Sons

As well as Kenneth Steel’s bonkersly technicolour vision of British Industry in the early 1960s.

Poster, British Railways 'Service to Industry' by Kenneth Steel c.1963, D/R size. Depicts a diesel with freight wagons in the confines of a North Eastern steel works. Published by British Railways North Eastern Region and printed by Jordison & Co Ltd.

And there’s still more to look at, even just in the railway posters.  Who knew, for example, that Chester was on the coast?

Poster 'Chester' anon, D/R size. A pleasing scene on the river with boaters, band in bandstand, children feeding swans etc. Published by BR London Midland Region, printed by Jordison

There must have been a few disappointed travellers after that was published.

I’ve hardly scraped the surface of the railway posters on offer, and I’m exhausted.  But there’s more than just those up for auction, too, the sale also includes a handful of London Transport posters.  The Keely is illustrated above, but I also rather like this 1955 example, by Anthony Rossiter.

Poster, London Transport 'Country Walks' by A Rossiter (1955), D/R size. Depicts a winter woodland scene with a quote by Tennyson. 'Above the wood which grides and clangs its leafless ribs and iron horns'. Printed by the Baynard Press

The quote is by Tennyson, should you be wondering.

And, as I hinted in an earlier post, there is also a reasonable slew of wartime propaganda, from both World Wars, of which this Beverley Pick is probably the best.

Wartime Poster, 'ATS Carry the Messages - The Motorcyclist Messenger roaring across country from Headquarters to scattered units is now an ATS girl'. Depicts a lady ATS motorcyclist with German bombers in the air above

Although I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this wartime poster about wartime posters before, whose subliminal message seems to be that reading government propaganda makes you more attractive to the opposite sex.

Wartime Poster, 'Thousands of Women Needed Now in the ATS, WAAF - Vital to the Offensive - No British Woman will stand a side as the hour approaches'. Measuring 20" x 30". Depicts soldier, sailor and airman walking passed a woman reading the poster. Printed for HM Stationery Office by J Weiner Ltd

But really, you need to go and see for yourself.  There are nearly a hundred posters in the sale, and I’m bound to have missed some of them out.  And that despite the fact that I’ve gone on for too long already.  The second auction, I think, will have to wait for a post all of its own.  Watch this space.

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Getting the measure

I got somewhat over-excited towards the end of last week, when Mr Crownfolio pointed out this in a forthcoming auction.

Paul Nash 1960s reprint of rye marshes shell poster

Clearly this is a framed Paul Nash Shell poster of Rye Marches, and the reason I was getting into such a tizzy about it was that it had turned up at an automobile auction near Chippenham, with a valuation of just £80-120, and with a seeming mis-dating to the 1960s.

Now given that these posters usually go for several hundreds of pounds, sometimes thousands, I thought that this might be our only chance to buy one, so I started eyeing up the Crownfolio savings (still currently earmarked for things like doors and carpets) with a view to bidding on both that, and the Ben Nicholson which was accompanying it in the sale.

Ben Nicholson guardsman poster shell 1960s reprint

It seemed – almost – plausible that an auctioneer who specialised in cars might get this wrong, even if we might have been outbid at the actual sale itself.  (The internet is, after all a double-edged sword; it allows us to find things in obscure auctions, but it also lets every other blighter find them too.)

But then I took a closer look at the listings.  And it turned out that the auctioneers were right after all, curse them.

These aren’t 1930s posters at all, they are much later reprints.  How could I tell?  From the measurements.  A ‘proper’ Shell poster has dimensions of 30″ x 45″, their own rather unique size meant to fit the side of a lorry.  But the posters on sale here are 20″ x 30″.  So there is no way that they can be the real thing.

At which point I calmed down.  But it did make me realise how often Mr Crownfolio and I use the measurements as a way of judging when we’re considering posters, and I thought that this was something worth pointing out on here.

This probably isn’t a new idea to most of you, and of course there are lots of other ways of evaluating a poster when it’s there on paper and can be examined properly.  But should an apparent bargain turn up at a far-flung auction, or appear on eBay, the size can be a very big clue as to whether this is the bargain of all time or a great big flapping turkey of the first order.

Of course, we’ve nonetheless still bought a few turkeys in our time (at least one of which has been a reprinted World War Two poster), but I think that probably goes with the territory of buying from eBay.  Sadly Mr Crownfolio and I both have the amnesia caused by acute embarrassment, and can’t remember the details.  Sorry about that; maybe I’ll go and dig it out one day and you can all laugh at us.

That said though, if you do want to look at the Paul Nash or the Ben Nicholson on your wall, and you’d like it to take up a bit less space than normal, then there will be a couple of bargains going at Castle Combe later this week.  Just as long as you know what you’re getting.

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There’s a certain amount of urgency to this post as the next Bloomsbury poster auction is tomorrow (Tuesday).  I do wish I could get a bit more excited about the Bloomsbury Auctions, I really do, as they really ought to be the missing piece of the jigsaw, the auctions which hoover up all the lower-priced pieces of good design which Christies no longer deign to touch.  But somehow, it just doesn’t quite work.

Nonetheless, shall  we get stuck in and see what we can turn up?  Perhaps we should begin with this post-war Shell poster, seeing as I was over in that direction this weekend.

HOOPER, George (1910-1994) YOU CAN BE SURE OF SHELL, Kintbury, Berks  lithographic poster post-war
George Hooper, est £200-300

It’s rather hard to decide where to go next, in part because the poster part of the auction (there are film posters first, but I’m ignoring those) is arranged in alphabetical order of artists.  Which is I admit entirely logical, but does make it hard to construct any kind of narrative out of the whole thing beyond saying that there are posters.   Mind you, I think that if this selection of stuff was arranged in almost any order, it would still feel scattergun, it’s just that kind of sale.

So, here is a poster I like for no good reason other than it’s kitsch and quintessentially 1950s.

Vintage BOAC poster dogs
Anonymous, est. £300-500

So if the bulldog represents Britain, and the poodle Europe, what is the black one up to?  Answers on a postcard please to the usual address.

Meanwhile this one is a classic, and a deserved one too.

GAMES, Abram (1914-1996) SEE BRITAIN BY TRAIN, British Railways  lithographic poster in colours, 1951, printed by The Baynard Press
Abram Games, 1951, est. £200-400

Although by rights that should mean that it is worth more than the dogs, but there you go.

The one feature worth noting is that once again they’ve landed a whole haul of small GPO posters (for the last outbreak, see here).

As last time, they come in lots of ten with only one of each photographed, which isn’t really an enormous lot of use if you are thinking of bidding on them.

BROWNING A POSTAL VIEW OF LONDON, GPO  lithographic poster in colours, c.1950
Browning, 1950, est. £150-250

FARNHILL BY AIR MAIL, GPO  lithographic poster in colours, c.1950
Farnhill, 1950, est. £150-250

ARMENGOL, AT ANY POST OFFICE, GPO  lithographic poster in colours, 1951, printed by J.D.& Co
Armengol, 1951, est. £150-250

This set are definitely not as stellar as the last selection.  Even though there is an Eckersley amongst them, it’s not one of his greats.


ECKERSLEY, Tom (1914-1997 POST OFFICE SERVICES, GPO  lithographic poster in colours, 1952
Tom Eckersley, 1952, est. £150-250

Other than that, however, it is a miscellany.  There are three of Henrion’s posters for Punch – I’ve chosen this one because it is the least frequently seen of them.

FHK Henrion, est. £150-250

They are an interesting case, though, these posters as they appear quite regularly on the market, which leads me to suspect that they must have been sold or given away at some point.  Perhaps a trawl through early 1950s Punch might reveal the answer.

Also available are two very nice London Transport posters by Betty Swanwick.

SWANWICK, Betty (1915-1989) WILD or SAVAGE, London Underground  lithographic poster in colours, printed by Curwen Press,
Betty Swanwick, est. £200-400

SWANWICK, Betty WOOLWICH FERRY  lithographic poster in colours, 1949, printed by Curwen Pres
Betty Swanwick, 1949, est. £300-500

For once I agree with the estimates, as the second one, Woolwich Ferry, is by far the better of the two and would look wonderful on the wall, should any of you be tempted.

There is also further proof that P&O and the Orient Line commissioned a lot of very good design before the war, even if I can’t tell you any more about it than that.

ANONYMOUS ORIENT LINE TO THE MEDITERRANEAN  lithographic poster swallow cruises by 20000 ton steamers
Anonymous, est. £150-250

There’s also a chance once again to appreciate the hallucinogenic colour choices of Percy Drake Brookshaw.

BROOKSHAW, Percy Drake ((1907-1993) YOUR WINDOW OPENS THROUGH COOKS  lithographic poster in colours, c.1950, printed by Jordison & Co.
Percy Drake Brookshaw, c.1950, est. £150-250.

Along with a tram poster.

BROWN, Gregory (1887-1941) HORNIMAN MUSEUM, London Underground  lithographic poster in colours, 1934, printed by Crescens Robinson & Co. Ltd. London
Gregory Brown, 1934, set. £200-400

And that’s basically your lot.

One final thing to say, though, which is I hope you are appreciating this blog post as it is the most expensive one I have ever written.  Half way through, my computer keeled over once again and this time it looks terminal (or at least rather too expensive to repair).  So I have been to the Big Town and come back with a new laptop, all in time to get this piece out before the auction begins tomorrow.  It’s not every blog that gives service like that, you know.

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Today,  I think have the cheapest item ever presented on Quad Royal.  Instead of paying hundreds of pounds for a poster, you can get one of these little beauties for just £2.50.

Daphne Padden southend bus poster card Beast In Show

Or if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, how about this one instead?

Daphne Padden go shopping by  bus poster card Beast In Show

Once again, these appear thanks to the sterling work of Beast In Show (the non-teatowel wing of To Dry For) who, as you may well remember, have already worked with us to turn Daphne Padden’s designs into tea towels and placemats.  In case you don’t remember, they go something like this.

To Dry For Daphne Padden Gardener tea towel

Daphne Padden Autumn place mats Beast in Show

They are so enthusiastic about her designs (and frankly why wouldn’t any sane person be) that there is now a range of Daphne Padden cards available as well.


They are all lovely, and I can’t really choose a favourite, but I do just have to draw your attention to the one below, because there just aren’t enough psychedelic breakfasts in the world.


There are loads and loads of them – way more than I can stuff into one blog post, however hard I try.

Daphne Padden vintage bus poster design Scarborough card

You can see them all – and indeed buy them – on the Beast In Show website.  You have nothing to lose (at least compared to buying a poster you don’t).

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Better for a shower

Apologies about the delay between broadcasts, my computer had some kind of nervous breakdown and had to be sent away to a sanatorium for a few days. Pleasingly, it is now back and recovered, which means that together it and I can get stuck into the vast heap of auctions which are coming up in the next month or so.

First – and it rather has to be given that the sale is on Saturday – is the GCR Autumn Auction. Which isn’t as exciting as their auctions have been, as it mostly consists of a lot of quite standard railway posters.

British Railways BR(S) double royal poster, LYNTON & LYNMOUTH, by Harry Riley
Harry Riley, est. £150-300

Interspersed with pictures of trains.

Midland Pullman poster Wolstenholme British Railways poster blue train
Wolstenholme, est. £150-300

And the odd piece of unashamed naffness.

Network south east carriage cleaning poster better for a shower
Anon, est. £50-80

Scattered amongst all of this, however, are a few items of interest. To start with, there are several posters for That Abroad, but unusually these are ones issued by British railway companies.

Having lived in Copenhagen for a few years, these two Frank Masons have an inevitable sentimental appeal.

LNER double royal poster, COPENHAGEN, via Harwich-Esbjerg, by Frank. H. Mason
Frank Mason, est. £150-300

LNER double royal poster, HOLIDAYS IN DENMARK, FANO, by Frank H. Mason
Frank Mason, est. £150-300

While this one for France is simply rather good.

BR(S) 1948 double royal poster, SANDS ACROSS THE SEA, Brittany, Normandy, Picardy, by Clodagh Sparrow
Clodagh Sparrow, 1948, est. £100-200

I know nothing at all about Clodagh Sparrow, and the internet can’t tell me much either. She apparently did some number of designs for the LMS in the 1930s, and a couple for London Transport too.  So if anyone knows any more than this, I’d love to hear.

But anyway, back to the main event. There are a couple of posters in the auction I quite like.

BR(M) double royal poster, ISLE OF MAN , by Beaven, promoting fishing, golf, dancing and the islands beaches
Beaven, has to be 1950s, est. £100-200

BR(M) double royal poster, THE EDEN VALLEY, Near Appleby, Westmoreland, by A.J.Wilson
A J Wilson, est. £100-200

In the case of the second one, that’s probably as much due to the lettering as anything else.

Also of interest, simply because it’s not the kind of thing that comes up very often, is this holiday brochures poster.

BR poster, HOLIDAY GUIDES, by Cusden, a colourful image featuring Holiday Haunts style volumes
Cusden, est. £80-120

Although I am intrigued as to why, of all the posters in the world, someone has chosen to mount this one on linen.

The auction also includes a random ATS poster.

World War two ats propaganda poster
Anon, est. £100-200

It’s not my favourite wartime poster ever – there are better ATS ones if I am honest – but I mention this because the next upcoming railwayana auction (GWR, in November if you want an advance peek) also has some World War Two posters included, so this may be a recurring theme. Equally of course it could just be coincidence.

Finally, there is one London Transport poster, which is by John Bainbridge and is the best thing in the whole sale.

John Bainbridge London Transport poster windsor
John Bainbridge, 1956, est. £80-120

I’ve promised a post about him one of these days, and I really must do that as he is a sorely under-rated artist.  But that will have to wait, as my next post will almost certainly have to cover a few more auctions.

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Dog days

Todaay’s offering is two wonderful posters by Patrick Tilley.  This one – from 1959 – I’ve never seem in colour before.

Patrick Tilley The Times Top People Dog

Although Ido seem to remember it in the relevant Modern Publicity.

This one is dated a year later and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before anywhere.

Patrick Tilley Top People Take The Times greek poster

So there you go, a Quad Royal first.  And can I also commend Patrick Tilley for putting dates on his poster; if every designer did that my life would be a great deal easier.

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