Don’t Burn Your Shoes

I saw this poster at auction almost seven years ago now, but have never forgotten it.

Don't Burn Your shoes vintage W22 poster beverley pick

This poster really brings home to me the Orwellian side of Britain during the Second World War, a place where posters are shouting at you about things you’ve never even thought of doing (I’d never worried about burning my shoes until I saw it, but perhaps I should have done).

What I always wonder about though, is what people felt about it at the time.  Did they feel nagged or did they accept it as a necessary part of the war?  Or did they just ignore it?   I could, possibly, find out the answer to those questions, as there is some Mass Observation research on what people thought of the wartime posters.  But to do so I’d need to travel down to Brighton, and I haven’t quite done that yet.  I will one day, though – and then let you know.

More to the point of this post, ‘Don’t Burn Your Shoes’ was designed by Beverley Pick.  As is this one, which, although not quite as shouty, gives you more of a feel for the colour and design.

Beverley Pick food waste vintage World War Two poster

They’re all from the Onslows’ auction in November 2003.  Although we were there, it was very early on in our poster-collecting days, so I had no idea what things were worth, or even what I particularly liked.  Which is why ‘Don’t Burn Your Shoes’ up there went for just £30 – and not to me.

This one went for just £10.

Beverley Pick Vintage World War Two poster save for army greatcoats

And there are more (and more and more).

Beverley pick save bones for shells vintage world war two poster

With hindsight, I think the Beverley Pick archive was being sold off.  There were at least thirty or more posters up for sale, and some duplicates.  But after posting about Beverley Pick a few weeks ago,  I thought it was worth bringing these posters into circulation, as quite a few of them aren’t illustrated anywhere else.

Beverley Pick keep your clothes on hangars vintage ww2 postr

Sadly, I have not been able to find out a single thing more about Beverley Pick since I last posted.  I can’t even bring you a picture.  The best I can do is this.

Beverley Pick painting stars for Christmas decorations

Designer Mr Beverley Pick at work on drawing board. CU. His hand painting star on sketch of Regent Street. CU.

So at least I know he’s a man.  He is, I believe, painting stars on the 1955 Christmas decorations for Oxford Street.  But if you want to see his face, you’ll have to watch the Pathe News footage here.  If anyone can improve on this, please do let me know.

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The poster in the hat

Recently, Crownfolio junior and I were in the library together and found this.

Andre Amstutz Allen Ahlberg The Baby in the Hat

Now, surely this has to be the same Andre Amstutz who was designing posters for British Rail, the GPO and others in the late 50s and 1960s.  Posters like this one.

Amstutz camping coaches railway poster

There just can’t be that many people called Andre Amstutz to start with, never mind ones who can draw such delightful people.  Here’s another scan from the book, to compare and contrast.

Andre Amstutx baby in the hat end page

The progression makes sense as a career path; when posters weren’t being commissioned any more, that designers went into illustrating books instead.  It looks as though that’s what Fritz Wegner (see yesterday’s post) did, and it looks as though that’s what Amstutz did too.  Here’s his biography from the Penguin website.

Andre Amstutz was born in Brighton. He studied art and design at Brighton School of Art and then joined an animation film company. He later began a career in advertising, becoming Art Director at an advertising agency. Since 1960 he has worked freelance, designing posters and illustrations for a wide variety of clients, and more recently has moved into publishing, primarily as an illustrator of children’ books.

Now, I think Amstutz is a very under-rated artist.  This may be because he didn’t do that many posters – I can only find a handful of British Railways ones.

Andre Amstutz thornton Cleveleys British Railways poster

Along with a few for the GPO.

Andre Amstutz GPO guide poster

(He also did a Properly Packed Parcels Please one, which I’ve posted previously.)

And this BEA poster, which is the only one of his which I can track at auction anywhere.  Doesn’t go for a lot, but comes up regularly.

Andre Amstutz BEA poster 1957

But the ones he did do are great, so I can’t understand why he is so overlooked.  Perhaps making cheerful posters doesn’t necessarily do a lot for your reputation; people see them as cheesy and a bit uncool.

But however dour and serious you are about posters, how could you resist this?  It’s from 1947-ish, and is utterly wonderful.

Andre Amstutz Move Your Farm railway executive poster

This isn’t the best picture of it ever, I’m afraid (the colours are much crisper in real life) but ours is framed, and I’ve never ever seen it anywhere else, so I’ve had to photograph it through the glass.  Apologies.

But if anyone is able to tell me anything about British Railways moving farm by train, I would genuinely like to know.  Or, for that matter, if you can tell me more about Mr Amstutz himself.  He deserves more recognition.  And now you must excuse me, because I have a few pigs and a tractor to pack up.

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Such is the confusing nature of the modern world that telegrams have been arriving in my inbox.  I’d rather they were delivered by a messenger with brass buttons on his jacket, but I guess that’s not really an option any more.  Nonetheless, all of them are still very much worth looking at.

Laura Figiel sent me these two.  The first, from 1957 is by Barbara Jones.

Barbara Jones GPO greetings telegram

Excellent owl-work there.  Just in case you were wondering as I did, the news is that  the twins are now both 52, and one of them is Laura’s mother.

This 1956 example, meanwhile, is by Fritz Wegner.

Fritz Wegner GPO greetings telegram

Now I can’t tell you very much about him, I’m afraid, except that he has quite possibly gone on to illustrate children’s books, including some by Allen Ahlberg.  Which might lead me on to a post tomorrow.  I shall say no more until then.

This isn’t strictly a telegram, but it is a greeting.  It’s by Patrick Tilley, and was designed to send postal orders in.

Postal Order artwork by Patrick Tilley

Now these do come up on eBay every so often and aren’t expensive at all – the Wegner sold a couple of months ago for just £6.  So if you want lovely graphics for not very much money at all, the telegram is your friend.  And no one will ever say that about an email.

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Clean as new

Now it’s not often that I get to discover a whole new genre of posters, but today I can share just that with you.  Dry cleaning posters.

vintage dry cleaning poster school clothes

This whole collection from, I am guessing, the 60s and 70s, was sent to Quad Royal by Roly Seaton.  I think the Kenneth Williams-a-like here is one of my favourites.

vintage dry cleaning poster party clothes

Roly acquired them when a dry cleaners in Leeds was closing down, and left them outside the shop for any takers.  I imagine them having been very dapper in Leeds in the 1960s.

retexturing vintage dry cleaning poster 1960s

And very well textured.  But, quite apart from the kitsch amusement value, I’m interested in these posters for a couple of reasons.

One is that they do, once again, show just how the overall standard of graphics had declined by the 1970s.  This poster was clearly done by someone whose day job was illustrating Simplicity patterns.

vintage 1970s dry cleaning poster hand drawn figures

While all that this one has going for it is the fabulous 1970s image of modernity that it wants you to believe in.

vintage 1970s dry cleaning poster

Shagpile, smoked glass, round TV; truly this has to be the future.

Now I wouldn’t claim that any of these posters are design classics, and I don’t suppose I’ll ever know who designed them or when, but they do illustrate once again just how little we know of the visual past.  Even after just forty or fifty years, so much of the graphic design that people saw on a daily basis has entirely disappeared.  And not just from the dry cleaners.  Every greengrocer, every chemist, every corner shop would have been full of posters and signs, hand drawn or printed, good or bad, but almost all of which have gone.

What we think of as the appearance of the 1960s is a very partial construct, made up of London Underground posters, a few high end pieces of graphic or corporate identity design which are now collected and revered, and perhaps a few films.  But what most people saw on a daily basis was very, very different – and perhaps as hard to recreate now as the mindset of the Middle Ages.  It’s a sobering thought.

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Country pleasures

The car broke down on the way home last night, and real life is generally intruding in one way or another, so proper posting will resume tomorrow.

In the meantime, have this by way of an apology.

See London and london's country Sheila Stratton vintage London transport poster

It’s by Sheila Stratton, it’s from 1954 and it’s one half of a pair poster, thus.

Sheila Stratton London's Country pair poster 1954 London Transport

And that’s pretty much all I can tell you about it, other than it is completely wonderful.

I tripped across it by accident in the LT collection a while back, and was so taken with it that I saved it for a day like today.  But I can’t seem to find out any more about Sheila Stratton, and this seems to be the only poster design of hers I can turn up, so if anyone has any more information, please do let me know.  And, even better, if you’ve got a spare one, the contact form is on the tab above.  I have a very good bit of wall just waiting.

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Sepsis, fuel and dark beer

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the Onslows catalogue is now up and complete – eighteen lovely pages of posters for you to look at it, and all of which you can bid for via the internet.

So with the sale less than two weeks away, I thought I’d better take a proper look.

If you are a fan of a) World War One and Two, b) Guinness or c) French posters, you’re in luck, as there’s plenty of all of those.

Rags - Mount Evans world war two vintage salvage poster onslows

This Mount/Evans salvage poster is probably my favourite of the WW2 lots – and one I’ve never seen before as well.  Large tranches of the rest – unless you like H.M. Bateman cartoons – are more of historical than graphic interest.  Although, having said that, I rather like this railway fuel saving poster too.

railway fuel saving world war two vintage poster

As well as this fantastically stark warning – also from the railways.

Railways Health and Safety Warning vintage poster

At an estimate of £70-£100, I might even think about that, were it not for the fact that I’d never ever put it up on the wall.

Then (lots 246 – 250 should you be looking for them) there are a small cache of classics, including Henrion, Keeley and three by Abram Games.

Henrion VD awareness world war two vintage poster

Pat Keeley Sepsis world war two vintage poster

Abram Games blood donors world war two vintage poster

Every one a classic, but all also sufficiently grim that I can’t see any of them going up around the house any time soon.

In the world of Guinness, meanwhile, there are a few Gilroy classics on offer, but I rather like this 1962 one by R Peppe, not just for being different, but it does help.

R Peppe Guinness vintage poster 1962

And after that, I just got a bit overwhelmed.  There are film posters, London Transport posters – including this 1953 gem by Sheila Robinson.

Sheila Robinson London Transport poster 1953 Royal London half of Pair poster

We once sold a poster of hers once; with hindsight I have no idea why.

There’s also this 1964 design for Kew Gardens, which is by Tom Eckersley’s wife, Mary Kessel, poster trivia fans.

Mary Kessell vintage London Transport poster Euphorbia 1964

There are of course railway posters, including Terence Cuneo’s Pictures of Trains, lots of 1972 Munich Olympic posters about which I know nothing, and – as mentioned in my last post – industrial quantities of Shell educational posters, at least 22, although I might well have missed some.  The Hillier is still the best one on offer, although I am also a big fan of the David Gentleman series on The Roads of Britain.

David Gentleman Roads Shell educational poster onslows

There’s at least one missing here – The Great West Road with his wonderful image of Silbury Hill – and quite possibly more, but they’re still a great set on a deeply under-rated subject.  But I will not digress.

If your a fan of Kraftwerk, you might want to buy this.

Trans Europ Express vintage poster onslows auctions

And finally (because I am rambling furiously and must stop) I like this, for no good reason at all.

Onions poster onslows auction

Surely that prize specimen has to be worth more than the £30-40 estimate.

This is of course a fantastically partial review of what’s on offer, and has almost certainly left out all the most valuable posters.  So please do and take a look for yourselves, and I’ll come back once the auction’s over and see what I missed out first time around.

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