Love and money

A proper post is brewing and will follow tomorrow, but this is just a brief appearance to let you know that all your Valentines poster needs are solved.

Dorrit Dekk post office savings bank love poster

I’ve mentioned this Dorrit Dekk poster before, and now it has appeared on eBay, not once but twice.  It ought to go really, it’s just the kind of thing that would sell for a lot more in the right kind of shop, even if it is mounted on some kind of board.

While we’re on the subject of eBay, can I also just remind you that the Quad Royal Daphne Padden prints are also now available on that esteemed shopping site.

Daphne Padden gardener print to buy

They’re very competitively priced, especially when compared with this little gem.

New milton vintage british railways poster

The auction has ended, but until last week it has been on offer for £1,350.  A figure which completely boggled my mind because in the auction at which we bought the Eckersley last week, a copy of this went for, I think, about £300.

Now normally, I would laugh and point, saying that this hasn’t even been restored and how much do you expect me to pay for a frame?  But that’s not going to work here.  For one thing, the auction has been ended because the item is no longer available, which I suspect means they have sold it.  More tellingly than that, they received a Best Offer on it of £1,200.  Really, truly I do wish I had the sheer gall to be a dealer.  I’d make a fortune.  But I have no such ability in me, so you’re all safe.

All of which means that I can make no comment on their one remaining poster, except to say that if you would like to buy this Norman Wilkinson poster for £1,850, you know where you can go.

Norman Wilkinson Harrow School LNER poster

Meanwhile, for those of us without the best part of two grand burning a hole in their pockets, this National Savings poster of Shipping through the Ages currently has no bids at just £3.99.

National Savings shipping through the ages not pretty poster

Or this slightly more appealing example of the National Savings genre could be yours for £6.99

National Savings Club poster

Or we could all just give up and collect thimbles.

Mrs Housewife on Display

There are some things I haven’t been telling you recently, and it’s time to fess up.

The biggest omission is the Bloomsbury Auctions sale which happened last week. Now this wasn’t the most exciting collection of posters I have ever seen in one place, but there was one significant exception. This was three lots, right at the end, all by Dorrit Dekk.  Each one was a total treasure trove, with a whole range of posters in, not just one.

Dorrit Dekk wireless licence GPO poster 1940s

Dorrit Dekk Home makers poster Post office savings bank

What’s more, they were estimated at £200-300 per lot which, with at least ten posters each time, was looking like a total bargain.  Hence my silence.

Dorrit Dekk staggered holidays World War Two home front propaganda poster

As the sale went on, we got more and more excited, because nothing seemed to be selling for over its estimate, and quite a few things were falling below that (the contrast with Christies is not something that you need me to explain).  So by the time we got to the three Dekk lots our hopes were high.

Dorrit Dekk Love Post Office Savings Banks poster 1960s

But they were rapidly dashed to the ground again.  They all went for well over their estimates, £420 in two cases and a whopping £550 for the one with all of the travel posters in.

Dorrit Dekk orient line travel poster

Dorrit Dekk France travel poster

Bah.  I hope whoever got them likes them.

The second thing I missed was for the rather more practical reason that I only got about 48 hours notice of the sale, but it’s still interesting enough to draw your attention to after the event.  Lot 247 at 1818 Auctioneers in Cumbria at the start of this week was a set of World War Two Home Front propaganda posters, How Mrs Housewife Saves Fuel For Battle.

Mrs Housewife Saves Fuel World War Two Propaganda poster home front

Mrs Housewife Saves Fuel World War Two Propaganda poster home front pair

Mrs Housewife Saves Fuel World War Two Propaganda poster home front

There were thirteen in total, which would have been worth a mention on its own as it’s pretty rare for a whole set to turn up like this.  But also included were these title banners.

Mrs Housewife Saves Fuel for battle title posters for set world war two propaganda

Now I’ve never actually seen something like that before, and I was immediately reminded of this.

Beverley Pick wartime poster display stand from display presentation book

These are Beverley Pick’s travelling poster displays for the Ministry of Information, which I’ve blogged about before.  And what I think came up for auction was a set of posters designed for exactly this kind of display.  Which is a rare thing indeed.  I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if those posters were by Pick himself, either; I’ve seen that kind of brickwork effect on other designs of his.

By way of atonement for these past sins, please have a couple of things which are coming up for auction in the future and so you’re able to buy.  Of which the most interesting is this rather lovely London Transport poster which is being sold by Wooley and Wallis in Salisbury next week.

Leith Poster 1928 London Transport Never Mind the Weather

It’s by a rather mysterious Leith, and seems to be the only poster that he or she ever designed for London Transport.  It has an estimate of just £100-200 if you fancy it, and why shouldn’t you, it’s very appropriate for the season.

Meanwhile in Chippenham a collection of rather ordinary advertising posters has turned up.

Goodyear tyres for farmers advertising posters

I was going to call them pedestrian, but given that half of them are for tyres, that would just be silly.

Goodyear deluxe tyres advertising poster

Still, worth mentioning simply to remind ourselves once again that by no means all past advertising was great.

Motor Homes poster

And quite a lot of it was really rather ordinary.

Finally, this isn’t a poster and it is in a Christies sale with the word Old Master in the title, so it’s definitely unaffordable.  It’s by Lill Tschudi and dates from 1933.

Lilli Tschudi Sticking Up Posters 1933

But it’s people sticking up posters, and the work behind the paper is always worth remembering.


Lend a hand

There’s a certain inevitability about the fact that now I’ve written the Home Front Posters book, a whole heap of new information about World War Two posters has popped up in various places.  This isn’t entirely a painful discovery, and not just because I am now resigned to the fact that while research could go on indefinitely, books do have deadlines.  Because today’s exhibit is that particular joy, a brand new archive.

What’s happened is that the National Archives have digitised a significant chunk of their wartime posters and are distributing them via Wikipedia.  (There’s a full explanation here if you want to know more).  It’s very exciting because there are a large number in there that I’ve never seen before.  Here’s a rather nice Dorrit Dekk to begin with.

Dorrit Dekk World War Two propaganda poster Staggered Holidays

This isn’t just an act of altruism but also a kind of crowd-sourcing, because the archives don’t have much information about many of these posters and they’re asking for people to help with everything from attributions to translation of foreign-language posters.

Part of the challenge, particularly with matching artists to designs is that these aren’t printed posters but the original artworks, quite often without the signatures that the finished item would have.  So it ends up being a process more like finding the provenance of a painting.  For example, we have this Eileen Evans, signed.

Lend a Hand on the Land Eileen Evans World War Two propaganda poster

Which makes it a fairly reasonable guess that these two posters in the National Archives are also by her.

Lend a Hand potato harvest farming holiday camp poster artwork eileen evans national archives ministry of information

Lend a hand with the potato harvest farming holiday camp world war two poster eileen evans ministry of information artwork

In fact I’m confident enough about that to have amended the description for each of those.

Only 350 of the 2,000 designs in the National Archives have been uploaded so far, but what’s already striking is how many of these I’ve never even seen before.  Take this Pat Keely for example.

Pat Keely wait for daylight world war two blackout poster artwork national archives

I think he owes McKnight Kauffer an acknowledgement on that one. Keely’s quite well-represented in the selection that are up so far, again often with previously unseen posters.

Cross at the lights world war two blackout poster national archives Pat Keely

What’s difficult, though, is to interpret what these previously unknown designs actually mean.  Are these for posters which were printed but are as yet unreported – whether that is because a copy never survived, or perhaps does exist but has not yet been digitised by the Imperial War Museum?  Or are they designs which were not actually ever produced?  In many ways. my bet would be on the latter.  Artworks which never went to the printers would be far more likely to survive.

Then on the other hand, this artwork is in there, for a poster which was very definitely printed in quite large numbers.

Make do and mend world war two poster ministry of information artwork

There’s not an obvious conclusion to be had.  Except perhaps that – because of wartime haste, limited record-keeping and the only accidental survival of what were intended to be very ephemeral bits of paper – we’ll probably never have the definitive list of World War Two Home Front posters, never mind their dates and artists.

It’s also worth remembering that this collection is very partial. The artworks all came from the Ministry of Information, but they were by no means the sole source of posters during the war.  Both National Savings and the Ministry of Food, two of the highest-spending departments at the time, commissioned their own advertising, so very few of their designs, if any, would turn up in the MoI’s archives.   And that’s without considering other poster producers, from British Railways to the Army.  Even so, there are still some delightful surprises in there.  It may not be the greatest design ever – apparently by the mysterious Xenia – but I love the idea of Village Produce Associations a lot.

Xenia poster artwork village produce associations

So I am very happy to report that Google reveals many VPA’s founded during the war are still going today.  Hurrah.

That kind of continuity after the war is also apparent in the poster designs.  It’s easy to believe, as I’ve said on here before, that all wartime posters stopped as soon as hostilities ceased, but that’s far from the truth.  Many campaigns, from salvage to fuel saving, just continued unchanged.  This fuel saving poster – in the great tradition of bossy shouty slogans – could date from during or after the war.

Turn that Gas down World War Two austerity fuel saving poster national archives

Other campaigns, meanwhile, were reversioned for the peace.

Dig for Plenty world war two poster reversioned for austerity post war national archives

Dig for plenty world war two austerity poster national archives artwork

It’s also fascinating to see some of the very definitely post-war designs produced by the new Labour Government to persuade people that the continuing austerity was necessary – a much harder job than wartime propaganda.

We work or want post world war two propaganda poster national archives

Wages and salaries can only go up with production post war propaganda poster national archives

These seem to me to be much rarer than the wartime posters, presumably because, by this stage of post-war austerity, no one at all wanted to keep them as a souvenir.

There’s plenty more to be seen in there too – including this Percy Drake Brookshaw artwork for – well for what?

Percy Drake Brookshaw apple picking artwork for something national archives

So why not take a look and see what I’ve missed out.


Float Or Fly

I’ve mentioned the P&O archive before now, but I was led back to it the other day when I was on the trail of John Bainbridge.  This delightful fish is his, dating to 1953.

John Bainbridge fish poster P&O 1953

But to my joy, I’ve discovered that they’ve added to what’s online since I was last there.  New arrivals include this Negus/Sharland poster from 1955, which is, I think, the earliest example of their work that I have come across.

Float or Fly Negus Sharland orient line poster 1955

This Fritz Buhler, which is just dated 1950s, is also good.

Fritz Buhler vintage Orient Line poster 1950s ship

While this last poster is just intriguing.  It’s not signed, but it doesn’t half look like a Royston Cooper to me.

Vintage Orient line poster 1965

What do you reckon?

But that’s not all.  The Printed Ephemera section has also been extended.  It now not only includes a few delights that have been seen before on Quad Royal, like these menus by Dorrit Dekk and Daphne Padden.

Dorrit Dekk P&O Menu 1971 front

Daphne Padden P&O menu from estate sale

There are others as well, and amongst them this Daphne Padden menu, which is new to me.

Daphne Padden entertainments menu P&O 1956

And dating from 1956, it’s quite an early example of her work too.

There’s plenty more to be found on the archive too, but it’s leading me into such digressions that they may need a whole post of their own. But I will explain more another day.


Meet Mr Poster

There has definitely been a change in eBay over the last few years, at least in terms of the poster market.  When we first started watching it, most of what was up for sale wasn’t either of much quality or of much value.  Think National Savings and posters which had been damaged beyond all reasonable repair.  And quite often both.

Nowadays, though, it’s very different out there.  What’s on offer can sometimes look more like a sample from a specialist poster auction than the scrapings from someone’s attic, although admittedly you don’t get to look at pictures of so many people’s floors in a proper auction.

It’s one of those weeks this week.  So you could have a Guinness poster.

Guinness Poster 1951 Wilk (Dick Wilkinson)

Or a high quality film poster by none other than James Fitton.

James fitton film poster Meet Mr Lucifer 1953

Although with a starting bid of £250, I shan’t be buying it.  As the posters on offer edge up to auction quality, it seems the prices are doing the same.  I’m less impressed with that, however inevitable it is.

For a £99.99 opening offer, you might also have this period railway poster, featuring a man with wonderfully spivvy dress sense.

Lggage in Advance vintage railway poster late 1940s

Extra points for standing on the poster while you’re taking the photograph there.

You might also be interested in this gem  (starting price £80) which is one of my favourite railways posters that we don’t own.  Yet.

Manchester Piccadilly vintage railway poster British Railways 1960

I spent several of my teenage years travelling in and out of Manchester Piccadilly for gigs, nightclubs and hanging around in shops without buying anything, so it has a great nostalgic appeal.  Although I don’t remember the architecture looking quite that optimistic or even interesting after a couple of decades of unsympathetic adaptation and Mancunian smoke.

If it’s London Transport posters you are after, there is this bus stop poster by Harry Stevens.  Again.

Harry Stevens bus stop litter poster London Transport 1977

This keeps coming up, everywhere from eBay to Sotherans, and has probably been mentioned on here more times than any other single poster.  I have no idea why there are quite so many of them about.  Were they distributed to every London school child for the Silver Jubilee or something?  Or were they just very easy to steal from bus stops?  If anyone has a clue, please do share.

But all is not lost, some corners of eBay are just as they ever were.  Would you like a 1960s RoSPA poster?

1960s ROSPA road safety poster mirror gear signal

Please say you would.  Because I’ve got a whole tube full of these to put up for sale one of these days, although probably with a starting price of less than £9.99.

There’s also still space for the oddities too, like this man in France who is mostly selling a vast array of posters about safety out on the airport apron which is really worth looking at just for curiosity value alone.  The collection includes this British Airways safety poster, yours for the grand sum of €2.

British Airways safety poster

My favourite, however, is this Air France one, also €2 if you fancy it.

Air France safety poster dogs bottom

Finally,  there are the things that are more likely to come up in a junk shop or ephemera fair than an auction house, like a large set of BBC Schools leaflets or a Dorrit Dekk menu.

Lots of lovely time and tune for you

Dorrit Dekk P&O Chusan

These reassure me.  I’m really pleased it isn’t all tidied up and auction-like yet on eBay; life would be much duller if it were, and I wouldn’t know quite how many people had beige carpets. And we’d hardly be able to afford any posters at all ever. So long may it carry on like this.

Post Office Love

This picture arrived in the Quad Royal inbox a few weeks ago.

3 x post office savings bank posters from 1969

A very lucky man called Brian Shepherd had found this trio in his loft.  They’re mounted on board, and so it seems that they’d been used as trays to store apples and pears up there in the dark.  A waste of some very fine posters if you ask me.

Now Brian emailed because he wanted to know a bit more about them.  This one (my favourite and a bit of a psychedelic masterpiece if you ask me) is signed Dorrit Dekk.

Dorrit Dekk Love Post Office Savings Bank poster 1969

The Beatles might be asking for a few royalties on this one, which is by Martina Selway.  As far as I can tell, she seems to have done a lot of designs for the GPO and only a couple more for London Transport.  But a surprisingly copious biography out there on the web reveals that this is because she then went into illustrating children’s books.  So now we know.

Martina Selway Join the Club Post Office Savings Bank poster 1969

Then there is the third, which is a bit of a mystery.

Anonymous The Lasting Fashion Post Office Savings Bank poster 1969

The signature is only a pair of initials which might say dy, or jy, or jl, to be honest it’s hard to say.

Mystery signature on Post Office Savings Bank poster 1969

So the first mystery is who is this by?

Mr Shepherd is a bit of a sleuth, because he started to do some more research into the posters and even scoured the National Archives to see what he could discover.  Which was that these posters were all commissioned in 1969.  Which then raises another question, because 1969 was the year that the Post Office Savings Bank turned into the National Savings Bank.  Which makes me wonder whether these posters were ever actually used – or is the change of name the reason why they ended up lining fruit trays instead?  I’ve asked the lovely people at the BPMA, but they can’t shed much light on it.  So if you know any more, please do get in touch, I’d love to know.

Even without that knowledge, though, they’re still a great set of posters; proof that not all artistic merit had fled from the poster by the end of the 1960s.

That’s not the end of it, either.  If you want to buy any of these, he has put each of them up for sale on eBay.  So if you’ve taken a shine to any of them, you now know where to go.