Your goodwill eases our daily task

Right, I have got behind again (apologies) and so the next few posts are going to be mostly me catching up with the auctions.  And there seem to be quite a lot to get through, too.  Although I do also have some thoughts on 1930s railway posters which need an airing one of these days as well.

First up, because the auction is next weekend, is London Transport Auctions.  On the plus side, they do at least, unlike most railwayman auctions, include a guide price.  On the downside, the pictures in their catalogue are minute.  Like this one, for example.

St Albans timetable

That, to save your eyesight, is a road and rail timetable for St Albans in 1937.  I suspect that the cover design may be quite nice, but I can’t really tell.

Fortunately The Saleroom have come to our rescue, so we can actually have a look at some of the posters that are on sale.  Which is a relief, because there are some nice ones in there.  Let’s start with the classics (for which you can read really quite valuable posters) represented here by Anna Zinkeiesen.

Original 1934 London Transport POSTER by Anna Zinkeisen (1901-76, designed for London Transport 1933-1944) promoting the Lord Mayor's Show.
Anna Zinkeiesen, 1934, est. £150-200

There’s also a design of hers for the Aldershot Tattoo, but it’s not as mice as the one above.  Or this one below, come to that. which is by John Stewart Anderson.

Original 1939 London Transport POSTER by John Stewart Anderson promoting the Royal Tournament at Olympia by bus, coach and Underground
John Stewart Anderson, 1939,  est. £150-200

He did some work for Shell in the 1930s as well, in the same kind of airbrush style, but that is pretty much all I can tell you.  And I don’t know anything about Charles Mozley, either, except that he designs in a style very reminiscent of Barnett Freedman crossed with a Punch cartoon.

Original 1939 London Transport POSTER by Charles Mozley (1915-91, designed for London Transport 1937-1939), the last of the 1930-1939 series promoting the Rugby League Cup Final at Wembley.
Charles Mozley, 1939, est. £100-150

Although, when I google, it turns out that I probably should have heard of him.

Elsewhere in the classics department, there are a couple of World War Two posters.

Original WW2 London Transport POSTER from 1944 'Seeing it through' by Eric Henri Kennington (1888-1960), one of a series he designed for LT that year, this one featuring a woman firefighter at the wheel of a truck above three verses of poetry by A P Herbert
Eric Kennington, 1944, est. £75-100

Original WW2 London Transport POSTER from 1943 '10 million passengers a day - your goodwill eases our daily task' by James Fitton (1899-1982)
James Fitton, 1943, est. £100-150.

A James Fitton is always a joy to see, at least for me.

As is this Eckersley-Lombers, which I would say was rare, on the basis that I’ve never seen it turn up at auction before.  Except that there are two of them in this very sale, each slightly different.  Go figure.

Original London Transport 1936 double-royal POSTER "Christmas Calling" by Tom Eckersley (1914-1997) & Eric Lombers (1914-1978),


Original London Transport 1936 double-royal POSTER "Christmas Calling" by Tom Eckersley (1914-1997) & Eric Lombers (1914-1978),

Spot the difference.  Both are double royal, both from 1936 and both on offer for £100-125 which, if you ask me, would be a bit of a steal.  (Actually I think that quite a few of these prices are at the low end of what even a notorious cheapskate like me would be prepared to pay, so it will be interesting to see what things actually go for).

Elsewhere, there are also some lovely post-war poster which are, inevitably, a bit more up my own personal street. Cream of the crop is probably this very colourful Kensington Palace Coronation Special.

Original 1953 London Transport double-royal POSTER from Coronation Year 'Kensington Palace' by Sheila Robinson (1925-1987)
Sheila Robinson, 1953, est.  £75-100

I could quite happily decorate a room in those colours.  And with that poster too.

There are also a few nice later examples too, like these two by Victoria Davidson and Anthony Rossiter.

Original 1959 London Transport double-royal POSTER 'Cockerel' by Victoria Davidson (1915-1999
Victoria Davison, 1959, est. £75-100

Original London Transport double-royal POSTER "Harvests" by Anthony Rossiter (1926-2000) who designed a number for LT between 1955 and 1974. The poster dates from 1965 (designed in 1964) and promotes Green Rover tickets for unlimited travel on London's country buses.
Anthony Rossiter, 1964, est.  £30-50

But you should probably go and have a look at the catalogue, if only because it is full of many and diverse delights apart from posters.  If I spend more than a few minutes in there, I find myself wondering about  bus conductors’s satchels and cap badges, about poster frames and brochures.  Or why not buy a bus stop?


Yours for £100-125 if you want it.  But I think I’d better end there, before I get entirely carried away.  On a bus, of course.

Is Your Letterbox Efficient?

I was just thinking that it had all gone very quiet on the auction front, when what should come along but a whole auction full of posters at Bloomsbury.

It’s an interesting hotch-potch with almost every form of poster you can think of represented in the mix.  So there’s foreign posters and railway posters.

PIPER, Raymond NORFOLK BROADS railway poster
Raymond Piper, est. £200-400

Alongside ski posters and London Transport posters.

FITTON, James (1899-1982) CIRCUS, London Underground lithograph in colours, 1937 London Transport poster
James Fitton, 1937, est. £200-300

UNGER, Hans (1915 - 1975) PIMLICO, London Underground offset lithograph in colours, 1972 poster
Hans Unger, 1972, est. £200-300

I’ve never seen that Unger before, although it’s not, in my book, one of his best.  The pricing is a bit, well, interesting as I can’t see that the Unger and the Fitton are in any way comparable in quality, but according to the estimates, they are.

In addtion, there are plenty of poster types that have been mentioned on here before, such as David Klein posters and aeroplane posters with lots of blue skies in them.

Note the increasing prices for David Klein; had I had the foresight and money to buy some a few years ago, I would be thoroughly quids in.  But I didn’t, and anyway, I would only have wanted to keep them.

KLEIN David (1918-2005) SAN FRANCISCO, Fly TWA offset lithograph in colours, c.1958, poster
David Klein, 1958, est. £1,400-1,800

LEWITT-HIM LEWITT (1907-1991)HIM (1900 - ) AOA USA lithograph in colours, 1948 poster
Lewitt-Hi, 1948, est. £150-250.

Another poster that I keep mentioning on here is this McKnight Kauffer from 1938.

KAUFFER, Edward McKnight ARP lithograph in colours, 1938,
McKnight Kauffer, 1938, est. £140-180

As ever, it turns up with the matching Pat Keely.

KEELY, Pat Cokayne (?-1970) ARP lithograph in colours, 1938 poster
Pat Keely, 1938, est. £140-180

My theory about this – and I have said this before but I think it’s worth repeating – is that these posters come up so often because they were deliberately saved.  They were, I believe,  the first propaganda posters issued by the government in advance of World War Two.  So they were a novelty, and also a harbinger of a great event that I am sure quite a lot of people could see coming.  So, if the chance arose, they saved them for posterity, or the grandchildren, or for all the other reasons that make people keep otherwise insignificant pieces of paper.

Move forward two years and the whole British population is drowning in slogans and propaganda, coming at them from newspapers, leaflets and the radio, as well as from posters.  So the last thing they want to do is keep one as a reminder.  In any case, there are so many, which one to choose?  So the latter posters survive in dribs and drabs, mostly saved by accident.  But these first ones, people knew they were important and they kept them.

Fortunately, not everything in the auction is something seen before.  This, for example, has to be one of the least obvious posters ever.

ANONYMOUS BETTER BROWN THAN LILY WHITE offsetlithograph in colours, c.1960ANONYMOUS BETTER BROWN THAN LILY WHITE offsetlithograph in colours, c.1960 poster
Anonymous, c. 1960, est. £200-400

Artist not known, but more than that I have no idea what it is on about either.  Nor, it appears, does Bloomsbury.  Any ideas anyone?

Most exciting, for me at least, are these.

ECKERSLEY, Tom (1914-1997) POST EARLY. GPO lithograph in colours,  poster
Tom Eckersley, est. £150-200

This is just one of five, yes count ’em, five sets of GPO posters, each with ten posters in them.  Including, in this lot, a reminder of what a good designer Harry Stevens is at his best.

STEVENS, Harry (1919-2008) BY AIR MAIL. GPO lithograph in colours, 1951,  poster
Harry Stevens, 1951, est. £150-200

I would bid on them, but judging from our last experience with the Dorrit Dekk lots, these will go for a lot more than the estimates.

AITCHISON YOUR LETTERBOX…GPO lithograph in colours poster
Aitchison, est. £150-200 

And I’m not surprised.  This values them at £15-20 a poster; I reckon they’d go for more than that on eBay.  Although I don’t, to be fair, know what the other posters are, they may all be dogs of the first order.

BROMFIELD FOREIGN LETTER. GPO lithograph in colours, 1951 poster
Bromfield, 1951, est. £150-200

We’ve emailed Bloomsbury to ask what they are, and when we get an answer, I’ll let you know.

Typewriter dream of elysian fields

Less eBay, more auctions today, which makes a change.  The main excitement, at least it is if you are me, is a pair of Graham Sutherland posters up for sale at Wooley and Wallis in Salisbury.  This is the catalogue image.

Graham Sutherland How Sweet I roamed London Transport poster 1936

From the text, it appears that the other poster on offer is this (image from the London Transport Museum site).

Graham Sutherland field to field London Transport poster 1936

While I am sure that the catalogue knows what it’s talking about, it’s nonetheless a bit odd, because both of these designs were originally conceived as London Transport pair posters.

London Transport how sweet I roamed pair poster 1936 Graham Sutherland

Graham Sutherland from field to field London Transport pair poster 1936

Given the choice, I think I’d rather have the two on offer.  Not that this opinion is in any way relevant, because the estimate is £2,500 to £3,500, a sum of money which is completely unaffordable if you are currently pouring all of your savings into restoring a knackered old building.

I have to say, though, that if we weren’t being so daft, I’d be tempted.  I don’t know why – after all we’ve never spent anything like that much on a poster before.  So then I doubt my motives for wanting these; is it because it is they are lovely posters, or is it because I like the status of owning not just any old poster, but a Graham Sutherland London Transport Poster.  Am I still in thrall to the idea of the artist even despite buying mass produced images?  Quite possibly.

All of which navel-gazing sent my mind back to the mahoosive Christies London Transport Sale, where the other great Graham Sutherland poster is on offer for £1,500-2,000.

Graham Sutherland London Transport poster 1936

Which I also love, but am also not going to buy, because we need carpets and that’s the end of it.  Except to say that I should probably return to Graham Sutherland’s posters on here one of these days.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand.  Lockdales, an auction house in Ipswich, have a handful of British Railways posters coming up in October.  They are actually quite to my taste, as they’re mostly post-war and just a little bit quirky.

British Railway poster, Broadstairs, The resort with a charm of its own
est. £150-250

British Railway poster, Frederick Griffin, Southend on Sea, Westcliff on Sea, leigh on Sea, Thorpe Bay, Shoeburyness
est. £150-250

Lune Valley 1950 poster Percy Drake Brookshaw
est. £100-150

The third one is by our old friend Percy Drake Brookshaw, and rather fine it is too.

I am mildly amused by this lot, which has been subject to some rather comprehensive cropping and so is described only as “town by an ocean”.

town by ocean auction lot British Railway poster, Alasdair Macfarlane

Shall we turn this into a parlour game?  Can anyone name that railway poster?  (I can’t).

To round this off, there are one or two things on eBay that are worth your time and attention, starting with this.

Derrick Sayer London Transport artwork

Which is a piece of artwork for a London Transport poster, by Derrick Sayer and dating from, so the listing says, the 1940s.

It doesn’t look as though it was ever produced, as there’s no trace of it in the London Transport Museum collection.  Mr Crownfolio says that it reminds him of this Schleger.

Hans Schleger 1937 Highway Code exhibition Charing Cross

I think he has a point there.  The colours also remind me of James Fitton’s work at about the same time.

James Fitton World War Two blackout poster London Transport

I could go on, but I won’t.

Finally, this.  A classic architectural work, with an early Tom Eckersley, well Eckersley Lombers cover to boot.

THE MODERN HOUSE IN ENGLAND Marcel Breuer WALTER GROPIUS Tecton cover Tom Eckersley

Currently at £12.50, but with four days to go, I think it will go higher.  And I have some more Eckersley for you in a week or so too.

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.

A curiosity

Once again, found in the great warehouse of curiosities which is eBay.  It’s a Fitton, not a poster this time but a painting.

James fitton funny sketchy thing

And I’m pretty sure it’s the same Fitton too.  Certainly the signature matches those on the paintings in the Dulwich Art Gallery catalogue.

James Fitton signature

But even were it not signed, that acid green is reminiscent of the luminosity of the colours in quite a few of his posters  (although we almost certainly wouldn’t have found it on the great online jumble sale without a signature, I must admit).

James Fitton The Seen London Transport vintage poster 1948

James Fitton abbey Road poster

We paid a very small amount for it, and frankly you can see why, as it is a sketch, and a sketchy one at that, rather than a painting.  But having said that, I’m starting to become rather fond of the thing.  It looks best from a distance, an experience I can recreate for you here by shrinking it to a thumbnail.

And so, propped up on the highest shelf of the Ladderax, it works rather well.  The overall effect is one I rather like and generally tend to aim for, that of an impoverished 1950s architect trying to make the best of a slightly recalcitrant house.  And this might be a painting by one of the architect’s friends.  Well I can always pretend, can’t I?

Surf, psychosis and Audrey Hepburn

Remember I asked last week where all the traditional railway posters have gone?  Well now I know the answer: they’re all in the forthcoming Onslows Sale.

Ronald Lampitt (1906-1988) St. Michael's Mount, original poster printed for BR(WR) by British Colour Printing c.1948
Ronald Lampitt, 1948, est. £500-600

There’s no shortage of them yet, that’s for certain.  In fact, in some wierd inversion of the natural order of the world, Onslows are currently offering a much more traditional set of posters than Sotherans.  Strange, and yet true.

Jack Merriott (1901-1968) Newquay, original poster printed for BR(WR) by Waterlow c.1954
Jack Merriott, 1954, est. £800-1,000

There are hundreds of them, really, please do go and see for yourself.  In fact I’d quite like it if you did as there are almost certainly some goodies which have passed me by.

All of which is not to say that there aren’t some other kinds of gems in there as well.  My pick of the sale has to be this, which is fabulous and I think underpriced.

F K H Henrion (1914-1990) Changing the Guard, original poster printed for London Transport by John Swain 1956
F H K Henrion, 1956, est. £100-150

But I’m more than happy to point you at this because we already have a copy and very nice it looks in its frame too.  As the estate agent said, it’s the foreshadowing of Pop Art in 1956, while at the same time insane genius at work.  Go on, you know you want to.

I also have no designs on these two James Fittons, because we’ve bought quite a bit of his work over the last year – by quite a bit I mean two or three posters, and we don’t have the wall space for even those.  I’m a bit less keen on the blackout poster; and while the clown is lovely, I suspect that it is lovely enough to fetch quite a high price too.

James Fitton (1899-1992) Inside its bright outside its dark, original poster printed for London Transport by Waterlow 1941
James Fitton, 1941, est. £200-300

James Fitton (1899-1992) Its safer by London Underground, (Clown on Tight rope) original poster (without title) printed for LT by Baynard 1937 - 102 x 63 cm
James Fitton, 1937, est. £400-600

Now I do rather want this Royston Cooper, although probably not at that price.

Royston Cooper Hastings & St Leonards, original silk screen poster printed for BR(SR) by Planet
Royston Cooper, est. £250-300

Hastings never looked so Continental.  It’s not alone either; there’s a fair amount more late 1950s early 1960s travel posterage  in there alongside the traditional stuff.

Anon Be Budget-wise ! Buy a Shopping Ticket to London, original poster printed for BR(SR)
Anonymous, est. £100-120

(Audrey Hepburn on a cut=price day return if you ask me.)

John Cort Country Afternoon Tickets, original poster printed for BR(SR)
John Cort, est. £100-120

Not only railway posters but also coach travel too.

Studio Seven Britain by Motor Coach, original poster printed by Waterlow -
Studio Seven, est. £40-60

I can’t work out whether the Morphets Sale is still feeding through into the rest of the market, or the rest of the market has woken up to the potential of this kind of design.  Either way, I rather like it.

The kitschier side of the 1950s is also represented here, and at prices only slightly lower than you might find at Sotherans too.

Alan Durman (1905-1963) Herne Bay on the Kent Coast, original poster printed for BR(SR) by Baynard 1962
Alan Durman, 1962, est. £600-700

I will be watching this kind of poster closely to see what they actually make.  I’m not entirely sure I approve of the trend here – are these posters actually that much better than the ones above them –  but that’s a thought for working out on another day in another post.

Although this Bromfield does get the Quad Royal seal of approval, even if it does look as though she’s standing in front of a giant bee.

Bromfield So near to the sea, original poster printed for BR(SR)
Bromfield, est. £160-180.

And it’s cheaper too.

There’s plenty more in this catalogue too, not least the World War Two posters, but this post has gone on for quite long enough already.  So I’ll deal with the rest of it next week, which gives you plenty of point me at all the interesting posters that I’ve missed too.  Then I’ll also explain why we’re probably not going to be buying anything from Onslows this time round (it involves a rabbit and pony, that’s all I’m saying for now).