What’s wrong with this picture?

At some point I need to write properly about the giant Morphets poster auction, even though it had been and gone before I got this blog going.  The sale was so big and so insane, and the prices so stratospheric, that it really can’t be ignored*, but to be honest I still haven’t quite got my head round it yet.  So let’s start with something simple.  This lovely poster.

Coventry Cathedral Basil Spence BR poster

Now I love this.  It’s an original architect’s drawing of one of the great buildings of the post-war reconstruction, and the typography is smart and of the period too.  If you showed it to an architect or a design historian (or just someone who is a fan of fifties graphics and wants something good – if rather large – to hang on their wall), they’d fall over themselves to buy one.  Or so you’d think.

Because in fact it’s not worth very much at all.  There were three of these on sale at the Morphets auction, all A condition.  One went for £140, one for £75, and the third didn’t sell at all.  And this in an auction where pretty much everything else made mincemeat of the estimates.

So what’s the problem?  Is it just that railway poster collectors (whoever they are) are traditional folks, who like pictures of countryside, historic buildings and of course trains on their walls?  Am I actually one of only about twelve people in the country who like 50s graphics.  Or is there something else very wrong with it that I can’t see?  Any thoughts or answers very welcome, because I certainly don’t know.

Oh, and I didn’t buy one because we’ve got one already.  Bought for £100 a few years ago, and it felt like a bargain.  Clearly I was wrong.

*For those of you whom it did pass by, there were almost six hundred railway posters for sale, the vast majority in boxfresh condition, and many of which I’d certainly never seen before.  But it was the sheer volume of stuff which was overwhelming.  Want a poster of Somerset?  That’s fine, there’s about twenty five to choose from.  Devon?  Oh, just another thirty or so.  And so it went on.  Perhaps I’ll write about it properly next time.