Postal Art

There is more to life than auctions. as proved by what Mr Crownfolio found on his internet wanderings recently.


What that link takes you to is a short Pathe film about, amazingly, the poster art of the GPO, dating from 1959.  Which means that you get treated to things like this Ruskin Spear.

Ruskin spear postman painting for GPO poster from pathe newsreal

This is the original, sitting on the walls of the GPO Head Office, where you can also find this rather lovely view of Iwerne Minster by John Minton as well.

John Minton painting of Iwerne Minster for GPO poster design on Pathe newsreel

But don’t worry, as the very period commentary will tell you, if you want to see art works like this without travelling to London, just pop into your local Post Office where these posters will be on display.

GPO posters on display from pathe newsreel 1959

The featured set of posters, mostly done by ‘arty’ artists, were apparently intended to give the viewer an awareness of place, which would in turn lead them to address their letters in the correct fashion.  Apparently.

But that’s not all there is on offer, the film also features the range of Greetings Telegrams which the GPO now offers, and it’s possible to play the game of Spot-the-Barbara-Jones-birdie (posted before here if you want a closer look).

Mixed GPO greetings telegrams from Pathe film including Barbara Jones

Sadly, the designer that they choose to feature isn’t Ms Jones herself, but one Shirley Thompson.  She’s shown working with F.B. Savage, head of the design department, on a Valentine’s Telegram.  But oh, just look at that office.

GPO art office from pathe film

I’d happily take anything they’ve got in there.  Frustratingly, though I can’t quite work out what they’ve got tucked down the side of the desk there.  It ought by rights to be one of these.

Tom Eckersley cat ornament poster GPO pack parcels carefully

Tom Eckersley toby jug please pack parcesl carefully GPO poster

Except neither of them quite match.  Is it a first draft?  Or is it something else altogther?  I can’t find anything more likely in the BPMA catalogue so if anyone can provide a positive identification, please do.

This film is by no means the end of things either, I can see just from its own page that there is another short film entitled ARP Posters.

Early ARP poster woman from Pathe newsreel


It’s a soundless set of rushes, just showing a set of early ARP posters in various ways.  But it’s valuable nonetheless.  I’ve never seen some of these posters before.

ARP egg timer poster from Pathe newsreel


I wonder what else lurks within their archives, waiting to be discovered?

Posted in archives | Tagged , , , | 4 Responses

Looking a gift book in the mouth

A short Barbara Jones announcement for all of you who, like me, think that she deserves more recognition.  At last it seems to be happening.  Not only is the Black Eyes and Lemonade exhibition running at the Whitechapel until September, but now Jennings Fine Art are holding a selling exhibition of her work at the start of next month.  Including lovely things like this.

Barbara Jones gift book artwork neil jennings

It even comes with a caption:

Barbara JonesThe Gift Book

Watercolour and pen & ink, 1964. Original artwork for the front and rear covers of the book co-written with Isobel English. Extensively annotated by the artist. Reference: Artmonsky A6, illustrated p.129.

Provenance: The artist’s studio. 

I have no idea what it will cost, mind you.  Annoyingly, I can only find a teeny-tiny image of what the finished product looked like .

Barbara Jones gift book cover

This comes from the very useful Barbara Jones page at Ash Rare Books, which, by some oversight, I don’t think I’ve pointed out before.

There are more nice things in the exhibition too.  Here’s another.

Barbara Jones watercolour of horse on beach

 Seaside Pony & Cart

Watercolour.  Studio stamp verso.  Provenance: The artist’s studio.

James Russell has also posted, very interestingly, about Barbara Jones.  Mostly I will let you go and read it yourself, but there are two interesting facts in it that are worth repeating.

One is that Little Toller books are publishing a new edition of her book The Unsophisticated Arts, which you can read about here.  To my consternation, it includes additional drawings, ephemera and other material from her studio, which means that we’re going to have to buy it, despite having an original copy already.

The other, related fact is that her studio is, apparently, still extant.

Her studio has remained largely untouched since her death; most of the artwork has gone, but her sketchbooks and ephemera remain.  We spent hundreds of hours cleaning up the images and making them good for publication. it was a joy to work on because you look so closely at every single image and you see each page in a new way.

I’m boggled.  How has it survived and who is looking after it?  More to the point, I want to go and see it.  Now.

The selling exhibition, meanwhile, is from 5-9 and 12-17 June at the Peggy Gay Gallery, Burgh House, Hampstead.  Apparently Barbara Jones’s studio looked out onto Burgh House.

Barbara Jones sketch

 Mural Design for the Cake House, St James’s Park

A series of watercolour, gouache, pencil and pen & ink drawings, c.1969.  The New Cake House was opened by Mrs. Harold Wilson on 23/2/70.  The mural, constructed in ceramic tiles by Richard Parkinson, depicts the George III Jubilee celebrations held in the park in 1840.  We would like to thank Anthony Raymond and English Heritage for their assistance in cataloguing this work.  Provenance:  The artist’s studio.

Reference: Artmonsky pp.109-110; English Heritage Archive. (please note that this is only one drawing from the series)

I know I said that she deserves more recognition so I ought to be pleased about this, and for the most I am.  But at the same time, a small part of me minds that someone who I feel I stumbled upon by accident, along with a few others, is now becoming mainstream.  Still, I am sure Barbara Jones herself would have been very pleased, she was a fan of the popular after all.  So I will try to be pleased as well.

Posted in archives | Tagged | 4 Responses

Setting off

Small Crownfolio has just started doing sets in maths.  Turns out it’s going to come in quite handy on here too, because it’s pretty much the only way I can find to get a handle on the next Christies poster sale, which is bearing down on us like a juggernaut upon a hedgehog (translation, it’s on Thursday this week).

There are a few sets, as ever, which are outside the purview of this blog, like the set of foreign posters.

René Gruau (Renato de Zavagli, 1909-2004)  AIR FRANCE, FRENCH RIVIERA  silkscreen and lithograph in colours, 1963
Rene Gruau, 1963, est. £800-1,200

More surprisingly, there is also the set of film posters.

Saul Bass (1927-1996) VERTIGO 1958
Saul Bass, 1958, est. £4,000-6,000

What does it mean that the poster and film poster sales are combined?  Are the two worlds starting to come together because they are all being bought for their design?  Or does it mean that each sale on its own couldn’t bring in enough lots to be worth running?  Or am I over-interpreting everything hugely?

Amongst the posters that I am prepared to be interested in, most of the usual suspects are present.

Theyre Lee-Elliot (1903-1988) WINGS OVER EUROPE, BRITISH AIRWAYS lithograph in colours, 1946
Theyre Lee-Elliott, 1946, est. £700-900

Francis Bernard (1900-1979)  AIR ORIENT  lithograph in colours, 1932
Francis Bernard, 1932, est. £4,000-6,000

Edmond Vaughan (1906-1996) SOUTH FOR WINTER SUNSHINE lithograph in colours, 1932
Edmond Vaughan, 1932, est. £1,200-1,800

David Klein, 1960, est. £800-1,200

Set of posters that Crownfolio has seen before at very many auctions = {airline posters, railway posters, nice posters by David Klein}

But there are other more unexpected aggregations too.  How about the set of posters with posh people on them?

Harry Tittensor (1887-1942)  HARROGATE  lithograph in colours, 1941
Harry Tittensor, 1941, est. £1,000-1,500

Frank Newbould (1887-1951) EDINBURGH, 'MONS MEG' lithograph in colours, 1935
Frank Newbould, 1935, est. £3,000-5,000

Charles Mozley (1914-1991) THESE PEOPLE USE SHELL, BLONDES AND BRUNETTES lithograph in colours, 1939
Charles Mozley, 1939, est. £800-1,200

George Sheringham (1884-1937) UP RIVER lithograph in colours, 1926
George Sheringham, 1926, est. £1,000-1,500

It’s quite a big set once you start looking fot them.  And that’s not even including the  somewhat related set of people doing posh sports.

Anna Katrina Zinkeisen (1901-1976)  WIMBLEDON TENNIS  lithograph in colours, 1934
Anna Zinkeisen, 1934, est. £700-900

Herry (Heather) Perry (1893-1962)  BOAT RACE  lithograph in colours, 1935
Herry Perry, 1935, est. £1,000-1,500

Davies HEAD OF THE RIVER RACE lithograph in colours, 1939
Davies, 1939, est. £700-900

As you may be able to guess from the last few images, there is also a further interesting set, which is the set of small London Transport bus posters.  The cardinality of this set is nineteen, which is nineteen more than you usually get in a Christies sale or indeed almost anywhere else.  I wonder whether this is one person’s collection?

Andre Edouard Marty (1882-1974)  BLUEBELL TIME  lithograph in colours, 1933
Andre Marty, 1933, est. £1,000-1,500

Mostly this set overlaps with the set of sporting posters, but there are a few rather pleasing exceptions.

Paul Nash (1888-1946) BRITISH INDUSTRIES FAIR lithograph in colours, 1935
Paul Nash, 1935, est. £1,000-1,500

Clifford (1907-1985) & Rosemary (1910-1998) Ellis GIANT PANDA lithograph in colours, 1939
Clifford and Rosemary Ellis, 1939, est. £800-1,200

Anna Katrina Zinkeisen (1901-1976) R.A.F. DISPLAY, COLINDALE lithograph in colours, 1934
Anna Zinkeisen, 1934, est. £700-900

All of them, whatever the subject, give me that same sense of monetary vertigo, because those estimates mean a lot of money for a very small piece of paper.  Each one is just 25 x 31cm, which is not very big at all.

Tom Eckersley (1914-1997) & Eric Lombers (1914-1978)  RUGBY LEAGUE FINAL  lithograph in colours, 1936
Eckersley Lombers, 1936, est. £1,000-1,500

Of course there are also plenty of things which don’t fit into tidy sets, like this Olympic Abram Games which I can say with some confidence that I’ve never seen before.

Abram Games (1914-1996)  FLY BEA, OLYMPIC GAMES LONDON  lithograph in colours, 1948
Abram Games, 1948, est. £2,000-3,000

This Frank Sherwin is also interesting, at least to me, because I posted about the original painting not so long ago and now here is the poster in a sale.

Frank Sherwin (1896-1985)  KENT - THE GARDEN OF ENGLAND
Frank Sherwin, est. £1,000-1,500

I still like it, but not enough to buy it.

There’s also a single Empire Marketing Board poster.

Charles Pears (1873-1958)  Gibraltar, The Empire Marketing Board  offset lithograph in colours, c.1928
Charles Pears, 1928, est. £1,500-2,000

Now this came up recently, somewhere, and I’m wondering whether it might be the very same poster.  Except I can’t remember how or where.  Can anyone enlighten me?

Posted in auctions | 5 Responses

That’s Shell, that was

Look at this picture, which has just come up for sale on eBay.

Shell Corner with hoardings by McKNight Kauffer

Now obviously no one is going to buy it, and not only because it’s on offer for the frankly ridiculous price of £23.61, but more importantly because it is being sold by people who butcher books and sell the plates.  Ought to be a crime, but isn’t.

However, their evil doings have, this time, brought up something which I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.  What the picture shows is the building of Shell Corner on Kingsway, in 1920 (about which I know nothing except that this isn’t Shell-Mex House).  So Shell clearly asked McKnight Kauffer to decorate their hoardings for them.  They don’t even look like standard size posters, so I’m assuming the images were specially commissioned for this location.  I only wish I could read the captions.

But it’s a reminder of one of my pet subjects, that people don’t just commission posters because they like art, or design, or want to advertise their product.  Companies are much more likely to make posters if they already own the hoardings.  This, obviously, is a slightly unusual case, but it’s none the less the same principle in operation.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Responses


People keep sending me things.  Which is wonderful, but does every so often necessitate a whole post to catch up with them.

First off the blocks is ‘mm’, who chipped in after the recent discussion about Harry Stevens to point out these two film posters of his which have come up on eBay.

Harry Stevens Barnacle Bill film poster

I have never seen either of them before, but then that’s not entirely surprising as I continue to know very little about film posters despite the best efforts of some people to educate me.  Mind you, as these are £395 and £450 respectively, I can’t afford to develop an interest, can I?

Harry Stevens the long arm film poster

However, these are both rather good designs, and the second one, particularly, is a very different style for Stevens.  So, good to see.

But there are bargains to be had.  Neil J, knowing of my deep affection for David Klein’s now rather expensive mid-century posters, emailed to tell me about the work that David Klein did for Amtrak in 1975.  Which looks a bit like this.

David Klein florida Amtrak poster 1975

Or indeed this.


There’s quite an interesting article about the posters on Amtrak’s own website, which says that these posters were available to the public (just $6 for the entire set), which probably explains why they are quite cheap now.  Neil got his copies for a whacking $29 each.  Hurrah for that.

Elsewhere,  my now rather old post about Hans Unger continues to attract not only people who knew him, but also now a journalist who hopes to write an article about him and his work.  I very much hope that this happens.

But in the course of all this, one of the previous commenters sent me these pictures, of a mosaic and a watercolour, both given to him by Unger.  So I thought you might like to see them too.

Hans Unger London watercolour


Finally, I mentioned one of these posters a few years ago when it came up on eBay.  It was, apparently, part of a collaboration between the LEB and the Royal College of Art.  And now I have photos of all of them, thanks to yet another kind correspondent.

LEB Royal College of Art Poster Ruskin Spear

LEB Royal College of Art Poster Sam Rabin



LEB Royal College of Art Poster Geoffery Clarke


LEB Royal College of Art Poster Robin Darwin Donald hamilton Fraser

The first four are by Ruskin Spear, Sam Rabin, Geoffery Clarke and Robin Darwin, and can be found on Mike Ashworth’s estimable photostream.  The last two are by Donald Hamilton Fraser and a name I can’t read at this resolution (looks like Leonard Rossiter, but I’m guessing it probably isn’t), and are not.  But all rather wonderful, so please do keep sending the photos, information and comments in – they are always very gratefully received.






Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Responses

Designer’s eye

So here I am submerged in house renovations when there are poster auctions which I need to tell you about.  First in the line, mainly because it’s in just a few days time, is the forthcoming Swann Auction of Modernist Posters.

Now, with their being in New York, there are usually only one or two items of interest for us in a Swann auction, things like this, which although wonderful are somewhat outside the Quad Royal remit.

WALTER ALLNER (1909-2006) SUISSE ÉTÉ / WAGONS - LITS // COOK. travel poster
Allner, est. $1,500-2,000

HERBERT MATTER (1907-1984) ALL ROADS LEAD TO SWITZERLAND. 1935 travel poster
Matter, 1938, est. $2,000-3000

There are also a set of Theyre Lee-Elliott posters for the embryonic British Airways.


M26145-31 001

M26145-29 001

All three are from 1938 and estimated at $800-1,200.  While we’re on the subject of British Airways, there is also this, which is apparently a very early example of photography in an airline poster.

Anonymous, c.1938, est. $800-1,200

If only flying were so glamorous now.

The main reason we’re here, however,  is lots 185-222 which are, in the main, from the collection of F H K Henrion.  There is one piece of his own work.

FREDERIC KAY HENRION (1914-1990) ARMY EXHIBITION. 1943. propaganada poster
F H K Henrion, 1943, est. $600-900

But what’s really going on is Henrion looking at the work of his fellow designers.  So there are examples from Reginald Mount, Pat Keely, Hans Schleger, Eckersley and many others – so many that I can’t include all of the ones I like.

REGINALD MOUNT (1906-1979) BONES MAKE EXPLOSIVES. Circa 1944.  world war two poster
Reginald Mount, 1944, est. $600-900

Pat Keely, 1941, est. $400-600

Hans Schleger, 1940, est. $400-600

As well as a substantial selection of Abram Games’ designs; I don’t know if they were friends or whether Henrion was a particular admirer of his work.

ABRAM GAMES (1914-1996) RADIOLOCATION. 1941. World war two poster
Abram Games, 1941, est. $2,000-3,000

ABRAM GAMES (1914-1996) CIVIL RESETTLEMENT UNITS. 1945. army poster
Abram Games, 1945, est. $700-1,000

Abram Games, 1955, est. $2,000-3,000

I’ve even found a rare example of an Ashley Havinden poster.

Ashley Havinden, 1950, est. $400-600

Not everything is by a big name, either.  This very striking wartime image is simply by A.R., about whom I can tell you nothing.

A.R., 1941, est. $500-750

Henrion clearly never stopped looking at posters and thinking about them as long as he worked, because there are a host of later examples too.

ALAN FLETCHER (1931-2006) D & AD 21ST. 1983. poster

So I strongly suggest you go over there and take a peek, not only for the insight into a designer looking, but also because Swann’s catalogues are properly written and informative.

MANFRED REISS (1922-1987) BE COURTEOUS. Circa 1955.  ROSPA poster
Manfred Reiss, 1955, est. $400-600

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to order a skip.

Posted in auctions | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Responses