Shop Early Post Early

Apologies in advance if this post ends up being a bit like the parish newsletter today, but there are a few things I’d to tell you about, even though they aren’t entirely related.  So bear with me, and the flower rota will be at the end.

Firstly and also excitingly, the BPMA have also got in contact with Pieter Huveneers, and he is going to answer some questions on their blog in January.  So if there’s anything you’d like to ask him about poster design, the GPO or being a design guru in Australia, now is your chance.  All the details are on their blog.

Huveneers vintage GPO poster artwork 1952

The artwork above with the bite taken out of it is from their collections, as is the poster below.

Huveneers vintage television licence GPO poster 1953

This is of course a poster announcing the arrival of a medium – television – which would in the end kill the poster itself stone dead.  Still, Huveneers wasn’t to know.

While I’m on the subject of the BPMA, they are once again selling lovely poster Christmas cards, including this lovely Hass.

Derek Hass 1950s vintage GPO post early shop early poster. gotta love it

But there are a whole range of designs, quite a few of which have already featured on Quad Royal before now, and you may find them here.

Most of the rest of our parish consists, as ever, of eBay.  In summary, there are some nice posters out there; however people mostly want rather larger sums of money for them than we – along with I suspect most of the rest of the parishioners – are prepared to pay.  With that in mind, here’s the best of the bunch.

Dorrit Dekk vintage London Transport poster Londoners

Your starter is a lovely Dorrit Dekk, mounted on linen too.  Starting price, £224-ish (it’s in America), although it doesn’t deserve that on the grounds of the foreshortened photography alone.

Another photography award goes to the seller of this Pye Radio poster, who has managed to photograph it looking like a giant billboard on the A4.

Pye Radio vintage poster

It is in fact only 74cm long, which probably also means that £49.99 is a fairly optimistic valuation.

Vintage guinness poster r peppe hat 1962

Guinness Evening news

All of which means that when both the above Guinness posters start at a slightly more reasonable £99, I am pleasantly surprised.  The top one is, I think, by R Peppe and dates from 1962, although the listing doesn’t tell you any of that.  The other one I have never seen before in my life, and all I can find out is that it might be by someone called E Hanna, so if anyone can enlighten me further about it, please do.  Rather good, though, don’t you think?

Cheaper, and possibly even more fantastic still, are these two Australian emigration posters.

Vintage Australia emigration poster

Vintage australian emigration poster

The listing (which in turn wins a prize for being one of the longest I have ever encountered) describes them as being possibly the work of Douglas Annand.  A brief trawl through google leaves me unconvinced, but he did do this poster.

Douglas Annand vintage P&O poster 1950s australia

And also these rather great P&O Menu cards too (via this Australian blog).

Douglas Annand vintage P&O menus

Regardless of whether he did those other two posters, they are very still good.  Even better, both auctions started at a thoroughly reasonable £9.99, but with bids already in I am expecting them to go higher.

Digression over, I can also tell you that it is possible to buy expensive posters in places other than eBay.

Vintage GPO properly packed parcels please poster 1966.

This GPO poster is up for auction by Poster Auctions International with an estimate of $400-600.  I’m usually quite fond of this series of posters, but this one has to be one of the least appealing.  So have this one as a palate cleanser instead.

Properly Packed Parcels Please Tom Bund poster 1967

There that’s better, isn’t it.  All that remains a reminder that the Church Christmas Fair is this Saturday and Holy Communion is at the usual time of 11.30 on Sunday.  See you all then.


The British Postal Museum and Archive have changed their website.  Now I know that this may not count as the most earth-shattering information you have ever received, but from where I am standing it’s good news indeed.  And when my old bookmark retrieves their new website, I am perhaps appropriately now greeted with this, which is by Graham Byfield and dates from 1954 but which I have never knowingly searched for in my life.  Although I’m starting to rather like it.

Grahamm Byfield 1954 vintage GPO internal poster

The BPMA have always been among the good guys in the sense that their archive is mostly digitised, online and searchable.  The only problem has been that the pictures have been, well, postage stamp sized.  Which has its uses, but is a bit taxing when you are looking at posters.  But not any more.  So now I can say, see this lovely Hans Unger from 1950, and it’s worth you taking a look.

Hans Unger vintage GPO poster correct addressing 1950

What’s even better news, though, is that a whole heap more stuff has been added to the archives too.  So should you type a (slightly less than) random word such as Eckersley into the search box, all sorts of new delights come up.  I have a vague sense that I have seen this summery 1953 poster before.

Tom Eckersley postcards need a 2d stamp vintage GPO poster

But I definitely haven’t seen this (an early effort from 1951 and reminiscent of his wartime ROSPA posters).

Tom Eckersley mis-sending vintage GPO poster 1951

Nor this more modern bauble from 1964.

Tom Eckersley Christmas post early for europe vintage GPO poster 1964

And I definitely haven’t seen this 1954 one anywhere before, not ever.

Tom Eckersley repeat numbers clearly vintage GPO poster 1954

What fun, and I’ve hardly started.  My only small gripe would be that images have a standard width, which works fine for most posters, but the van strips (for use on side of small vans: Morris minor vans) are still a bit squinty.   Which matters a bit for this lovely 1968 detector van (Eckersley again).

Tom Eckersley television detector van poster 1968 GPO

But a lot more for these Lewitt-Him dogs.  Truly I do  need a copy of this poster, and I don’t care that it will be a very long frame.

Lewitt Him post early dogs vintage GPO van poster 1941

One day, I’d like to see a picture of one of those van posters in use, on a Morris Minor for preference (adds to list of bits of aimless research which may get done one day).

But it’s not just Tom Eckersley of course, there’s also Dorrit Dekk, here from 1950.

Dorrit Dekk vintage Post Office Savings bank poster 1950

And this Henrion too, from five years later.

F H K Henrion Pack Parcels Carefully vintage GPO poster 1955

What’s also interesting is that the search function has changed slightly – by which I mean improved.  Now when I search the catalogue for Henrion, I don’t just get the posters, but also records of the time that Henrion Associates were employed in 1967 to redesign the whole GPO.  There’s some proper research that could be done one day.

There are still some things missing; my understanding is that not all of the 60s posters have yet been digitised, nor the tiny phone-boxed sized square posters, and there’s still only a small smattering of Post Office Savings Bank images in there too.

For most people though, what’s already there will be plenty enough to be going on with.  What I’ve posted here is just a first scratching of the surface, and I am sure there are still plenty more treasures to be turned up when I rummage further.  In the meantime, I will leave you with this, by someone called Gapp, and once more from 1954, for no better reason than I like it.

Gapp Suppressor car vintage GPO poster 1954

Of course all images are with thanks to the BPMA and their lovely shiney new website.

Edit: further to the conversation below, I have now raided their website once again to find pictures of a Morris Mail Van (70 cu ft, not a Minor sadly) with a poster displayed on its side.  And here it is, from 1944.

Morris Van GPO with vintage poster on side

Inexplicably, there is another picture of what looks like a different version of the van, but with exactly the same poster on.

Vintage GPO morris van with poster on side

I am also rather tickled by the poster they’re displaying, which couldn’t be more British if it tried.  I imagine it being said in very clipped and understated tones.

Less telephoning please vintage GPO poster from BT archive

There ought to be more advertising like that these days.  Incidentally, that, because it concerns telephones and only telephones comes not from the BPMA but from the BT Archive, which I wrote about ages ago but clearly need to revisit.

And finally, from a specialist GPO van website (I say no more) a Morris Minor GPO van.  Sadly I can’t see the poster though.

Morris Minor GPO van with poster display

My next question has to be, does anyone have one of those van display posters preserved, apart from the BPMA that is?  This is the closest we have, from the same year as the polite poster above, but much smaller at 6″ x 20″.

Telegraph less Austin Cooper vintage GPO poster

But some of the longer ones are twice that length – did they all disappear?  I need to know.


So the Central Office of Information is to be no more (news here in the Guardian).  This is a sad end because once upon a time they produced some rather wonderful posters.  Here’s a handy thought from them for this time of the year.

COI remember your passport when travelling abroad Reginald Mount Eileen Evans vintage poster

Coincidentally, I reccently bought a history of the COI from Abebooks.  (I don’t suggest you do the same: this would be the driest book I have come across for some time, had it not been beaten by History of The Second Word War: Food Volume 2 – Studies in Administration and Control which currently sits on my desk, waiting to bore me out of my wits.)  The real problem, at least as far as I am concerned, is that the book  doesn’t mention posters much.  Here’s pretty much the most interesting – or at least relevant – paragraph in the whole thing.

Over this entire period [i.e. since 1946] the COI has also had the part-time services of Reginald Mount and Eileen Evans as consultants and designers of a long succession of award winning posters, most notably for health education.

Posters like this.

Mount Evans hand palmistry stop smoking vintage poster central office of information

Which does at least answer the question I raised a few weeks back, which was when did Mount/Evans leave the COI and set up on their own?  Although the answer does seem to be a kind of Schroedinger-esque uncertainty principle in which they both left in 1946 when the COI was founded and at the same time never left.  I suppose that as long as we never look in the Ministry box, it will be fine.

What does seem to be true is that the vast majority of the COI posters I have come across seem to be by either Mount/Evans or Reginald Mount on his own.  My very slightly anal database tells me that we have had 28 COI posters at various times, but with very few other artists represented.  One is Thelwell, who produced a whole series of Countryside Code cartoons.

Thelwell Countryside code poster Central Office of Information

While the other is the magnificent Royston Cooper.

Brian the Lion Royston Cooper vintage poster Keep Britain Tidy Central Officec of Information

I also suspect that this Henrion may also be a COI production, but can’t prove it.

FHK Henrion vintage poster Keep Britain Tidy exhibtiion

But that’s almost it.  Which is surprising, because the COI book has a list of designers who worked for them, and it reads like a who’s who of graphic design in the 1950s and 60s.

For posters and book illustrations in the department’s lifetime these have included Rowland Hilder, Milner Grey, John Minton, Topolski, Ardizzone, Abram Games, Ashley Havinden, F H K Henrion, Hans Unger, Eckersley, Laurence Scarfe, James Fitton, Ronald Searle, Edward Bawden, Andre Amstutz, Tunnicliffe and the Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes group.

Now, I can see that our collection is a bit skewed, simply because we bought a lot of Mount/Evans posters at auction a few years ago when what I suspect was their studio archive was being sold off.  But even then, whenever we’ve seen and bought other COI posters they’ve been by them too – like this Keep Britain Tidy design by Reginald Mount.

Keep Britain Tidy vintage poster Reginald Mount for COI

A search of auction houses and archives like VADS reveals pretty much the same pattern – much Mount/Evans and Mount, very little else from the COI.

One reason for this may lie in the history of the COI itself.  The Central Office of Information was formed in 1946 as a replacement for the Ministry of Information, which had produced most of the government’s publicity and propaganda requirements during the war.  But for many people, propaganda of any time was seen as fundamentally not British and unsuited to a democratic state – i.e. this was something that the Nazis did and therefore, by definition, we shouldn’t.  It could only be justified by the needs of war, and so the Ministry had to go at the end of hostilities.

The problem with this was that the war itself didn’t finish so neatly.  Austerity and rationing continued right into the early 1950s, and indeed was stricter in the late 1940s than it had been during the war.  This in turn meant that much of the wartime instruction and exhortation to work hard and make a nutritious meal out of little more than cabbage had to carry on too.  So when the Central Office of Information was founded, it had quite a lot of work on its hands, and I suspect that many of those artists worked for the COI in those early years.

However it’s very hard to tell which these are; my suspicions are that most get lumped in under the heading of ‘World War Two’ posters.  For example, I’ve seen both of these posters, by Lewitt-Him and James Fitton respectively, dated to 1947 rather than during the war itself.

Lewitt Him Vegetabull vintage poster Ministry of Food

Turn Over A New Leaf vintage poster James Fitton Ministry of Food

Neither of these would have been produced by the COI, since the Ministry of Food ran its own posters and publicity throughout the war and I can’t imagine changed that afterwards, but they are good examples of how the wartime messages carried on past 1945.  The only COI poster I know of which is definitely from this period is by Dorrit Dekk.

Dorrit Dekk bones still needed for salvage vintage poster Central Office of Information

Dorrit Dekk only started producing posters in 1946, when she was demobbed from the WRNS and went to work for Reginald Mount at the COI, so this must be from between then and 1948 when she left.  But without knowing this biography, it would be impossible to date the poster and it too would probably be ascribed to the war years as well.  So I imagine that vast swathes of the COI’s early output has either disappeared, or been labelled as ‘wartime posters’ and, unless someone puts in a formidable piece of archival research one day, will never be known.  I also suspect that those were the posters designed by that great list of artists in the book.

As the years went on, the need for government publicity decreased – although this anonymous COI poster is reminiscent of wartime appeals.

Civil Defense COI vintage poster

Judging by her hairdo, I’d put this at quite soon after the war anyway, but I’d be interested to hear if anyone else knows more.

By the late 1950s or early 1960s though, the government just didn’t have as much to say.  Get a passport on time, don’t drop litter, smoke a bit less.  Don’t drink and drive.  And remember to tell the milkman when you go on holiday.

Mount Evans stop the milkman when you're off on holiday vintage poster

It doesn’t have quite the same heady excitement as the war years.  Although the designers were allowed out for a few digressions, such as United Nations Day.

Mount Evans United Nations Day poster 1967

Not every COI poster was aimed at the general public either; Mount/Evans also produced a number of internal campaigns for the government, most notable ‘Keep Our Secrets Secret’ which I’ve mentioned before on here but which are so excellent that I can’t resist posting one more time.

Mount Evans vintage combination  number poster COI

What Every Girl Should Know Mount Evans secrecy poster Central Office of Information

The other reason why there were fewer posters, of course, is that they were no longer the biggest game in town.  More and more, the COI’s main campaigns were conducted through short films, whether in the cinema or in public information slots on the television.  (Should you be interested, the National Archives have put tons of these online for your amusement).  Only the less important messages like UN Day or internal communications would have been put out by posters alone.

But all of this has now gone, and every government message will just be put out by advertising agencies and be indistinguishable from commercial campaigns.  Perhaps one day someone will produce an illustrated and possibly even interesting history of the COI, to show us just what design classics they did produce in their heyday.

March Mad Hatters

Real life has rather got in the way of blogging for the last week, so apologies for that.  It’s also meant disorder here at Crownfolio Towers.  Yesterday, an unopened envelope turned up underneath a pile of newspapers.  It turned out to contain this.

Dorrit Dekk Mad Hatters Menu card SS Arcadia design

We bought it on eBay for no better reason than it looked rather fun, but it turned out to be by Dorrit Dekk; her signature’s on the reverse.

Dorrit Dekk menu SS Arcadia Mad Hatters Ball reverse

It’s another P&O menu, this time for the Mad Hatter’s Ball Dinner on the SS Arcadia in 1962.  The chef recommends Jellied Turtle Soup.

I, meanwhile, recommend the P&O archive.  This is something that I’ve been meaning to mention for a bit, after it suddenly appeared in amongst a Google search a few weeks ago.  There are posters, brochures, luggage labels and much more.

SS Oronsay travel brochure 1951 P&O Collection

The online selection is by no means comprehensive – there are, for example, only about 6 menu cards on show, which is about as many as we’ve got ourselves.  But it’s still much better than nothing at all.

P&O Koala luggage label from collection

And there are some truly wonderful posters in there as well.  But I’ll come back to those in the next couple of weeks, because they really do deserve their own post.

The website also has a rather useful guide to where you can see pieces from the P&O collection in museums.  I can heartily recommend a trip to the River and Rowing Museum in Henley, which houses John Piper’s Landscape of the Two Seasons, designed for the Oriana in 1960.

Mural designed by John Piper for Oriana 1960 in River and Rowing Museum

The painting is much more spectacular in real life, not least because it’s monumentally large.  But it’s a very rare reminder of the almost industrial quantities of design and and art which were produced for P&O’s liners in the late 1950s and 1960s – other than that, it really is just the menus which remind us of the style in which it was once possible to sail.

One of the many, many things I have to do this week is book a trip on Brittany Ferries; I don’t think the experience will bear much comparison with the golden days of P&O.

That’s Entertainment

Today’s post has been brought to you courtesy of our postman, who rang the doorbell just as I started wondering what to write.  He was bringing us another classic menu by the wonderful Dorrit Dekk, at a guess from the early to mid 1960s.

Dorrit Dekk entertainment menu Canberra P&O

As ever, it’s not just a great design, it’s a window into another, vanished, world.  Would you care to meet our entertainers on this cruise around Fiji and the Solomon Islands?

“The Limits” – Beat Group
H.R. Hardie, Esq. – Lecturer from Sydney Stock Exchange
The Rory Irvine Trio
The Lee Kennedy Quartet
Sue Shakespeare, Disc Jockey

Oh brave new modern world that has Disc Jockeys in it.  And I haven’t even started on the Pyjama Dance or Golden Nugget.  I hope your weekend is as much fun as that.

Over-modern and over here

An interesting comment appeared a week or so ago on a older post about Beverley Pick.

He was a man.  Bless him… He was my uncle and a very clever man..He also did the original Moby Dick… Beverley was originally from Austria and lived many years in Sunningdale during the winter. Autumn he would visit his House in Cork and in his latter years he and his wife would live in France where they had a gorgeous home. He is now buried in the Churchyard at Sunningdale. There was so much to this man we will never know it all…

I’ve written to Odile Walker, who posted those intriguing memories, and I hope she’ll come back and tell us more.  But in the meantime, one thing that I never knew stands out.  Despite his British-sounding name, Beverley Pick was an emigré from Austria.

Beverley Pick pig waste vintage WW2 propaganda poster
Beverley Pick, WW2 poster

Now, I’ve been thinking for a while about the degree to which post-war British graphic design was shaped by people who were one way or another foreigners. There are so many of them that it would be hard not to really.  But finding that this is also true for Beverley Pick has pushed me into action.

So here is a roll call of as many emigré designers as I can think of who worked in the UK in the decade or so after the war.  It’s an impressive selection. With, for no particular reason other than that’s the way it turned out, lots of GPO posters as examples.

Andre Amstutz

Whitley bay poster Andre Amstutz vintage british railway poster
British Railways, 1954

Dorrit Dekk

Dorrit Dekk vintage GPO wireless licence poster 1949
GPO, 1949

Arpad Elfer

Arpad Elfer design for DH Evans poster 1954
D H Evans, 1954

Abram Games

Abram Games vintage London Transport poster at your service 1947

F H K Henrion

Henrion Artists and Russia Exhibition 1942

H A Rothholz

H A Rothholz stamps in books poster vintage GPO 1955
GPO, 1955

Pieter Huveneers

Pieter Huveneers fleetwood poster 1950 vintage railway poster
British Railways, 1950


Karo vintage GPO soft fruits by post poster 1952

Heinz Kurth

Heinz Kurth design for Artist Partners brochure divider
Artist Partners


Lewitt Him Pan American vintage travel Poster

Manfred Reiss

Manfred Reiss vintage GPO poster 1950
GPO, 1950

Hans Schleger

Hans Schleger vintage GPO ww2 poster posting before lunch
GPO, 1941

Hans Unger

Hans Unger 1951 vintage GPO poster
GPO, 1951

Together they make up pretty much half the content of this blog most months.  And I am sure that there are plenty more I have left out – please feel free to remind me who they are.

That’s all I am going to say for now, partly because this is quite long enough as it is, but also because I am in the process of working out what the story might be.  So if you have any thoughts on why British design became such an emigré profession, I’d love to hear those too.