There’s a certain amount of urgency to this post as the next Bloomsbury poster auction is tomorrow (Tuesday).  I do wish I could get a bit more excited about the Bloomsbury Auctions, I really do, as they really ought to be the missing piece of the jigsaw, the auctions which hoover up all the lower-priced pieces of good design which Christies no longer deign to touch.  But somehow, it just doesn’t quite work.

Nonetheless, shall  we get stuck in and see what we can turn up?  Perhaps we should begin with this post-war Shell poster, seeing as I was over in that direction this weekend.

HOOPER, George (1910-1994) YOU CAN BE SURE OF SHELL, Kintbury, Berks  lithographic poster post-war
George Hooper, est £200-300

It’s rather hard to decide where to go next, in part because the poster part of the auction (there are film posters first, but I’m ignoring those) is arranged in alphabetical order of artists.  Which is I admit entirely logical, but does make it hard to construct any kind of narrative out of the whole thing beyond saying that there are posters.   Mind you, I think that if this selection of stuff was arranged in almost any order, it would still feel scattergun, it’s just that kind of sale.

So, here is a poster I like for no good reason other than it’s kitsch and quintessentially 1950s.

Vintage BOAC poster dogs
Anonymous, est. £300-500

So if the bulldog represents Britain, and the poodle Europe, what is the black one up to?  Answers on a postcard please to the usual address.

Meanwhile this one is a classic, and a deserved one too.

GAMES, Abram (1914-1996) SEE BRITAIN BY TRAIN, British Railways  lithographic poster in colours, 1951, printed by The Baynard Press
Abram Games, 1951, est. £200-400

Although by rights that should mean that it is worth more than the dogs, but there you go.

The one feature worth noting is that once again they’ve landed a whole haul of small GPO posters (for the last outbreak, see here).

As last time, they come in lots of ten with only one of each photographed, which isn’t really an enormous lot of use if you are thinking of bidding on them.

BROWNING A POSTAL VIEW OF LONDON, GPO  lithographic poster in colours, c.1950
Browning, 1950, est. £150-250

FARNHILL BY AIR MAIL, GPO  lithographic poster in colours, c.1950
Farnhill, 1950, est. £150-250

ARMENGOL, AT ANY POST OFFICE, GPO  lithographic poster in colours, 1951, printed by J.D.& Co
Armengol, 1951, est. £150-250

This set are definitely not as stellar as the last selection.  Even though there is an Eckersley amongst them, it’s not one of his greats.


ECKERSLEY, Tom (1914-1997 POST OFFICE SERVICES, GPO  lithographic poster in colours, 1952
Tom Eckersley, 1952, est. £150-250

Other than that, however, it is a miscellany.  There are three of Henrion’s posters for Punch – I’ve chosen this one because it is the least frequently seen of them.

FHK Henrion, est. £150-250

They are an interesting case, though, these posters as they appear quite regularly on the market, which leads me to suspect that they must have been sold or given away at some point.  Perhaps a trawl through early 1950s Punch might reveal the answer.

Also available are two very nice London Transport posters by Betty Swanwick.

SWANWICK, Betty (1915-1989) WILD or SAVAGE, London Underground  lithographic poster in colours, printed by Curwen Press,
Betty Swanwick, est. £200-400

SWANWICK, Betty WOOLWICH FERRY  lithographic poster in colours, 1949, printed by Curwen Pres
Betty Swanwick, 1949, est. £300-500

For once I agree with the estimates, as the second one, Woolwich Ferry, is by far the better of the two and would look wonderful on the wall, should any of you be tempted.

There is also further proof that P&O and the Orient Line commissioned a lot of very good design before the war, even if I can’t tell you any more about it than that.

ANONYMOUS ORIENT LINE TO THE MEDITERRANEAN  lithographic poster swallow cruises by 20000 ton steamers
Anonymous, est. £150-250

There’s also a chance once again to appreciate the hallucinogenic colour choices of Percy Drake Brookshaw.

BROOKSHAW, Percy Drake ((1907-1993) YOUR WINDOW OPENS THROUGH COOKS  lithographic poster in colours, c.1950, printed by Jordison & Co.
Percy Drake Brookshaw, c.1950, est. £150-250.

Along with a tram poster.

BROWN, Gregory (1887-1941) HORNIMAN MUSEUM, London Underground  lithographic poster in colours, 1934, printed by Crescens Robinson & Co. Ltd. London
Gregory Brown, 1934, set. £200-400

And that’s basically your lot.

One final thing to say, though, which is I hope you are appreciating this blog post as it is the most expensive one I have ever written.  Half way through, my computer keeled over once again and this time it looks terminal (or at least rather too expensive to repair).  So I have been to the Big Town and come back with a new laptop, all in time to get this piece out before the auction begins tomorrow.  It’s not every blog that gives service like that, you know.


On 16th July, Bloomsbury are holding their Poster Sale, in what I’m hoping will be the last auction for a while – I say this mainly because I want to write about other things for a chance.

I’m not so jaded that I am going to do this, but I am aware that I could almost substitute what I wrote about Onslows in here with different illustrations, because the two sales are following a very similar pattern.

In particular, they both have a big selection of GPO posters, although in the case of Bloomsbury, they sell them in lots of ten so the estimates, although nominally higher than Onslows are actually cheaper on a per poster basis.  Which is confusing, in a trying to work out which brand of cornflakes in the supermarket is actually best value kind of way.  Perhaps we should price posters per square centimetre for the sake of clarity. Anyway, these are what’s on offer, but bear in mind that each one comes with nine unphotographed others.

HUVENEERS, Pieter H. SEND YOUR OVERSEAS PARCELS BY AIR MAIL. GPO lithograph in colours, 1954, vintage poster
PIeter Huveneers, 1954, est. £150-250

1955 vintage GPO poster BROWNING, H. W. BY AIR MAIL, GPO lithograph in colours
Browning, 1955, est. £150-250

vintage GPO poster GAPP BOTH NEED A CLEAR VIEW, GPO lithograph in colours, 1951,
Gapp, 1951, est. £150-250

This also connects up with the Onlows sale in that these – rather than the set on offer at Onslows – are the ones rescued from a skip when the Post Office were having a clear out.  So it’s an interesting coincidence that two sets have come on the market at the same time.  There is one more lot on offer at Bloomsbury as well,  fronted by this Tom Eckersley classic.

vintage GPO poster 1955 ECKERSLEY, Tom (1914-1997) POST EARLY, GPO ithograph
Tom Eckersley, 1955, est. £150-250

In another resemblance to Onslows, Bloomsbury also have a few fantastic Games posters tucked away at the end.  I won’t go through them all, but mostly they are good but not news to me because they have been much reproduced, like this London Transport example.

1950 London Transport vintage poster GAMES, Abram LONDON TRANSPORT, conducted tours lithograph in colours, printed by Waterlow & Sons Ltd, London
Abram Games, 1950, est. £150-250

This one, however is both new to me and utterly wonderful.

1952 poster GAMES, Abram (1914-1996) BLACKPOOL, British Railways
bram Games, 1952, est. £200-400

It’s apparently a British Railways poster  – and given that it’s in the collection of the NRM I see no reason to doubt this – but it doesn’t say BR on it anyway.  Which is unusual, but I imagine just the kind of thing Abram Games got away with and no one else was allowed to.

Onslows was full of Shell posters; Bloomsbury have but two.  They are, however, this kind and so both preferable and more valuable.

SUDDABY Rowland, (1912-1972 ) YOU CAN BE SURE OF SHELL, Darley Abbey lithograph in colours, 1937
Roland Suddaby, 1937, est.  £300-500

After that, however, I start to run out.  There are foreign posters (lots), film posters (just as many) and car posters (quite a few) but little to tickle my fancy.  The best thing I could find is this Lander, and it’s not one of his best.

British Railways poster LANDER, R.M. ISLE OF MAN lithograph in colours, c.1960,
R M Lander, 1960, est. £200-400

The only other thing that is of interest, although strictly speaking it’s more of a print, is this item by James Fitton.

James Fitton CEMA print pant
James Fitton, 1942, est. £300-500

Now I’ve come across one of these before.  It’s a print by CEMA, wartime fore-runner to the Arts Council and the prints look to be precursors of the School Prints and Lyons editions.  But I can’t find anything about them anywhere – do you lot know where they might be documented?  Or even a decent history of CEMA itself would do.  Anyway, there are actually a whole set available in the lot, so the estimate looks like somewhat of a bargain, if you like that kind of thing.

Even though it’s a bit short on my personal favourite kinds of posters, I still think the sale is good though, because I think Bloomsbury have answered the question that I asked a week or two ago, which was where are we to buy and sell mid range posters now that Christies have turned us away at the door?  Here, it seems.

FM Paignton British Railways tourism poster 1960
F M. 1960, est £200-400

That said, I do still have a couple of reservations.  One is very simply that they are not trying very hard with their catalogue.  For several of the posters I’ve illustrated up there, no dates have been given in the catalogue; in each case it’s been the matter of moments with Google for me to find out.  And given that two of those posters are for the GPO and London Transport, who in each case have comprehensive online catalogues, with dates, it’s pretty poor.

The other is the estimates.  They’re both wide and well, a bit vague.  Surely that fantastic Games of Blackpool has to be worth more than the average Lander?  So then I look at the catalogue and wonder how much they really know about their lots.  Still, I don’t suppose it matters too much.  This is, after all, an auction, and the market can judge for itself what a poster is worth.  But I do still feel very slightly cheated.

Finally, in a shameless piece of self-advertisement, we are selling some posters on eBay.  However, they are mostly world war two, mostly a bit shabby (OK, some a lot shabby) and surplus to requirements, so keep your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed.

Is it really efficient?

On we must go with the endless stream of auctions.  Today it is Onslows, which takes place on Friday.  What can I tell you about it?

Well the first thing that will strike you as you browse through the catalogue is precisely what a tonnage of Shell posters they have – and there are more too, tucked away at the end.

Keith Grant Somerset Shell Educational poster Wiltshire
Keith Grant, est. £100-150

I really must take a look at what these actually sell for, because the higher estimates of £100-150 do always strike me as slightly fanciful, but then a few always manage to reach that.  Certainly,  I don’t see them going as high at other auctions or on eBay.  Watch this space and I will report back.

That would, however, be an utterly reasonable price to pay for these Tristram Hillier items, which have the same estimate.  I’ve written about them before but, frankly, any excuse.

Tristram HIllier Shell guide to fossils educational poster

Tristram Hiller shell guide to minerals educational poster

What I haven’t ever written about properly, however, are the Shell educational posters themselves.  Must do that one of these days.

Meanwhile back at Onslows, the other thing that will strike you about the auction is a job lot of GPO posters, some being sold singly, some as individual lots.

1950 Harry stevens air mail GPO poster
Harry Stevens, 1950, est. £70-100

Sams 1954 minimum 4d letter rate GPO poster
Sams, 1954, est. £60-80

Now I happen to know the story behind these posters, and it’s one to make any archivist’s hair curl.  Back in the early 1980s, the Royal Mail in their Mount Pleasant HQ were having a sort out.  Sensibly, they decided that two copies of each of the posters they had produced should go to an archive – these are the ones which the BPMA have now.  Rather more bogglingly, they put the rest in a skip.  The seller rescued a selection that he liked.  Some were sold at Bloomsbury in March, this is another batch.

1950 Martin Aitchison Your Letterbox is it really efficient ?, GPO poster
Martin Aitcheson, 1950, est. £40-50

Other than that, the other two interesting items are two rather lovely sets of proofs, one by Barnett Friedman and the other by Edward Ardizzone.

Barnett Freedman (1901-1958) Wuthering Heights (16 plates) , Jane Eyre (16 plates) and Anna Karenina (16 plates), proof uncut lithograph sheets for illustrations from Heritage Press NY 1952,
Barnett Friedman, 1952, est. £200-300

Edward Ardizonne (1900-1979) lithograph proof sheets for Sinbad, Fairground Freak Show and WW2 sentry
Edward Ardizzone, est. £30-50.

I like them a lot, but what you’d actually do with them I’m not entirely sure.

Meanwhile the rest of what is on offer is the usual mix of foreign stuff that I am going to ignore, railway and travel posters, and, as ever, a fair selection of World War Two Home Front posters.

This is probably the stand-out railway poster for me.

Frank Newbould (1887-1951) Scarborough, original poster printed for LNER poster by Waterlow c. 1930
Frank Newbould, 1930, est. £700-1,000

Although, as even a cursory flick through this blog would reveal, I am always a sucker for this series.

L A Wilcox (Lesley Arthur 1904-1982) Cornwall Travel by Train, original poster printed for BR(WR) by Jordison 1960 BR poster
L A Wilcox, 1960, est. £600-700

The main event in the travel poster section, at least if you are me, is a stream of these black and white British travel posters.  A couple are quite interestingly early.

Brighton travel poster 1938
Anonymous, 1938, est. £50-70

The vast majority are not.

Walter Scott's Britain Warwick - The Castle, original sepia photographic poster printed for The Travel Association circa 1948 poster
Anonymous, c. 1948, est. £50-70.

While this in no way constitutes a recommendation to buy one, these posters are quite interesting as historical artefacts.  Take a look at the date: it’s just after the war has ended, and Britain is desperate to pay back the war loans.  And one of the ways to do that, is of course American tourist dollars; so these posters wing their way over to the States to try and persuade our American cousins to come over here.  But I often wonder just how well they worked.  Because America is sleek, glossy and most of all technicolour, but Britain is broke.  So our posters come in black and white and are printed on the cheapest, thinnest paper imaginable.

Of course none of this explains why the 1938 poster is equally as shoddy.  Perhaps the British Travel and Tourist Association were just cheapskates, all the time.

The reason I’ve thought about these posters so much is that Mr Crownfolio and I, some years ago, bought a whole roll of these posters from America for about £30.  We tried to sell a couple on eBay but basically got laughed at.  But then, a couple of years later we tried again, and the prices started rising – so much so that one of the last ones went for over £100.  And now they are at Onslows, well I never.

In the war section, meanwhile, this is probably the most classic poster.

Norman Wilson (dates unknown) Dig for Victory, original WW2 poster printed for HMSO by Chromoworks c.1940 propaganda poster
Norman Wilkinson, 1940, est. £300-400.

While this is my favourite.

Coughs & Sneezes Spread Diseases, original WW2 Home Front poster printed for HMSO by Chromoworks circa 1940
Anonymous, 1940, est. £40-50

Just look at the difference in prices, I am clearly in a minority of one on this.

For a change, there aren’t that many London Transport posters in there, but it’s worth persevering through the whole catalogue, because a pair of gems, both by Abram Games, are tucked away at the end.

Abram Games london zoo lovely poster
Abram Games, 1976, est. £100-150

Abram Games (1914-1996) London Transport Conducted Tours, original poster printed by Waterlow 1950 London Transport poster
Abram Games, 1950, est. £400-500.

In fact that poster above is the very last one in the sale.  And probably one of the best.   But it’s an exception, and I am slightly worried by the general lack of good posters like that from the Onslows sale.  Because with Christies having got so expensive, there’s a real need for an auction house selling the stuff that, well, Christies used to – the Games, the Eckersleys and the Royston Coopers to start with, never mind the Daphne Paddens.  But they aren’t appearing here – so where have they gone?  They haven’t entirely migrated to the railwayana auctions, so where have they all gone?  Do any of you know, because I certainly don’t. And I’d like to.

Blackpool, camels and shandy

I’m posting like fury this week to try and catch up with all the auctions that are going on.  Although this post is in fact about a couple of auctions that have already happened, but are still worth noting.

The first of these is the recent GWRA auction, where we had been hoping to get this Daphne Padden, but were outbid and it went for £280.

Daphen Padden Lancashire coast British Railways psoter

I don’t think we’ve seen that one before ever, so I am a bit sad about that.  We also failed to buy this Lander too.

Royal Mail Boats Lander poster

Although as it went for just £140 you may deduce that we weren’t trying that hard.

We did, however get this Lander, which I am rather pleased about.

Morecambe British Railways poster RM Lander

Again, it’s not one that you see very often (something I have mentioned on here before now).  But it’s a brilliant piece of what I believe people now refer to as ‘mid-century’ and will look rather good framed.

The auction was chock-full of posters including, interestingly, another two for Blackpool – as far as GWRA knows, both anonymous.

Blackpool Britsh Railways poster anonymous


The first one went for £300, the second for a whopping £700, which was almost the record for the entire sale.  The actual top price, though was £750, which was paid for this.


With this Fred Taylor coming a close second at £720.


But if you just wanted a nice pictorial seaside poster, quite possibly with a bit of kitsch in it, and you wanted to pay £200-300, you would have been spoiled for choice.  Here’s just one of the dozens.


That went for £240, and for ten pounds less you could have had yourself another Daphne Padden as well.

Daphne Padden isle of Man BRitish railways poster

I do like that cat.

But there were a few bargains here and there, at least if you like Peterborough.


Just eighty of your pounds.

There are even one or two bargains still to be had as well.  This rather striking Bromfield failed to sell, and is now on offer with a reserve of just £50.

bromfield - hampshire

Surely that must have some midcentury appeal somewhere; I’m sure it would go for more than that on eBay.

Also passed and worthy of note is the recent Christies sale, which I did manage to blog about beforehand.

Apart from the obvious conclusion that expensive posters are expensive, what has most caused me to raise an eyebrow here is the price of the little bus posters.  Several, like this Anna Zinkeisen, went for more than a thousand pounds.

Anna Katrina Zinkeisen (1901-1976) WIMBLEDON TENNIS lithograph in colours, 1934

Although interestingly, this Herry Perry, which had an estimate of £1000-1,500, only fetched £875.  And not everything sold either, although I haven’t had the time to do the forensics and find out exactly what.

Herry (Heather) Perry (1893-1962) BOAT RACE lithograph in colours, 1935

All of which will make it particularly interesting to see how this Anna Zinkeisen will do on eBay.

Anna Zinkeisen bus poster motorcycle show

It’s currently at £9.99, but with 6 days to go and a reserve that hasn’t been met yet.  Watch that space.

While we are watching that eBay space, a few more things that have turned up.  This Quantas poster is mostly of interest because it is quirky, has a picture of a camel on it and is not overpriced at £39.

Quantas Camel poster from Ebay

While someone by the name of prbs1929 is also selling a job lot of coach posters at very reasonable prices.  This is my favourite.

Late holiday coach poster

This, on the other hand, does seem a bit expensive to me.

poster for Maltese shandy

Although I know nothing about the Maltese poster market and may turn out to be completely wrong about that.

Finally, I think we have a collectable in the making here.

Can safety poster

I have no idea what it is trying to tell me, but that’s part of the fun.  I think. And there are plenty more to be had if that tickles your fancy.


I promised a while back that’s I’d revisit the most recent Great Central Railwayana auction and see what the posters on offer actually went for.  A course of action necessitated by the fact that railwayana auctions never, it seems, publish an estimate of what they think a poster is going to sell for.  This sometimes makes me think that I must be missing out on loads of cheap bargains, passed over by railway enthusiasts who would rather look at pictures of trains, or at a push, landscapes.

Claude Buckle Somerset
Claude Buckle, sold for £300

This was probably true once upon a time, but it definitely isn’t any more.  Posters are expensive wherever you buy them, and railwayana auctions are no exception to this rule.  The only difference seems to be that posters with a railway rather than design interest might fetch more than they would do at a more general sale, which is fair enough.

A Southern Railway quad royal poster. THE FOUR BELLES RING THE SOUTHERN COAST, by Shep
Shep, sold for £1550

But landscapes and seaside scenes aren’t exactly going cheap either, with this example inexplicably (to me at least) at the top of the range.

poster, LITTLEHAMPTON, by Allinson  British railways poster
Allinson, sold for £860.

Also failing to be bargains are the more decorative posters that I like the best.

Bromfield British railway poster swanage
Bromfield, sold for £490

Gregory Brown Ullswater travel poster
F Gregory Brown, sold for £520.

Even kitsch, which only a few years ago wouldn’t have been very valuable, reaches just the same prices as it would at a general auction sale.

Bexhill British Railways poster 1950s
Anon, sold for £300

The news isn’t all bad, as a couple of odd bargains did slip through.  I very much liked this poster and said so when I looked over the auction.  But I was clearly on my own in this.

Burley Dover Southern railway
Burley, sold for £120

While the Wye Valley was also inexplicably unpopular for a pretty landscape.

Wye Valey russell British Railways poster
Russell, sold for £130

But is there anything else we can conclude beyond my initial assessment that a railwayana auction is unlikely to give you a cheap poster?  I’m not sure there is, really.  There is a very small chance that you might get a bargain, particularly if you were buying for quality of design rather than for meticulous reproduction of countryside or trains.  But equally you might not, and there appears to be no way of telling either.  Perhaps the answer is to put a low bid on anything you half-fancy and hope that it works once or twice per sale.  But that does seem a bit of a random way of buying, even to me.

If we look wider, there is another, rather terrifying conclusion to draw as well.  Because that last auction was actually pretty cheap compared to what else has been going on recently.  The most recent GW Railwayana auction was, frankly, boggling in its prices.  Here is just a small selection.

Glencoe Norman Wilkinson LMS LNER poster
Norman Wilkinson, sold for £1,200

London Norman Wilkinson LMS LNER poster
Norman Wilkinson, sold for £3,550

Terence Cuneo Day begins LMS poster
Terence Cuneo, sold for £6,100

To me, that’s all looking, well, expensive; not just beyond Onslows’ prices, but nudging Christies too.

Not everything headed out at that kind of stratospheric level though.  At this particular auction, the kitsch didn’t do quite as well, in particular this delightful poster which I took a shine to at the time.

Geoff Sadler thornton cleveleys poster british railways 1950s
Geoff Sadler, sold for £180

Although nothing went desperately cheap, and the right poster, clearly, could get the money in.

Rhyl British Railways poster leonard 1961
Leonard, sold for £440

Neither of these sales are exceptions, either. If I go back to the last couple of GCR auctions, the pattern is very much the same.

Morecambe anonymous holiday poster family on beach
Anon, sold for £520

Ayr Laurence british railways poster
Laurence, sold for £620

Frank Mason Yorkshrie Coast vintage LNER 1930s railway poster
Frank Mason, sold for £4,100

With just the very occasional bargain to keep my hopes up.

Largs Ayrshire Lander poster British Railways 1950s
Lander, sold for £50

Oh, and this, which I was very disappointed to see going cheap, mainly because we’ve got a copy.  Never mind.

Tom Purvis East Coast baby yellow railway poster

Tom Purvis, sold for £230

I could go on, but it would only pain me.

Perhaps the most striking thing about railwayana auctions, though, is how much they, and the market, have changed.  The magic of the internet allowed me to revisit a GWRA auction from 2004.  It’s a different world.  There are only about ten posters for sale, of which the vast majority went for very little.  £50 could have bought you either of these for example.

'Yorkshire Coast’, BR poster, 1959. Anonymous


Compare that to their last auction, where there are several dozen posters on offer, some of very high quality, and many fetching extremely high prices.

This is a big change indeed in under ten years, and it’s something that isn’t often acknowledged.  That includes by the auctions themselves, for whom it seems posters are a bit of a sideline compared to the real business of metal name plates and station platform signs.  But these days, the railwayana auctions together must easily turn over as many posters as Onslows and Christies combined.  I shall pay them a bit more respect in future.  We all should.   And perhaps they could return the favour with some estimates.

String Theory

This has recently arrived in the post, contradicting my previous assertion on here that there are no more eBay bargains to be had.

Lander british railways luggage poster
Admittedly it is not an outstanding piece of graphic design history (although I quite like it) and is rather battered round the edges too.   But it’s by Lander, which is always a good thing, and it’s also a rather intriguing bit of social history.  Because it’s a reminder of the days when things had brown labels and were tied up with string, or in this case cord.

Nobody does that any more, do they?  I have sometimes been known to wrap a parcel up in brown paper, but I don’t think I’ve ever tied it up with string.  This is something I’m sure that my mother could do though, coming as she does from an age before jiffy bags and sellotape.

Without all these modern parcel technologies, it was clearly possible to wrap a parcel very badly.  At least that’s the only conclusion I can arrive at from the sheer volume of posters that the GPO put out on the subjects.  Most of these are quite general, and I’ve written about the Properly Packed Parcels series on here before.  But there were plenty of other similar exhortations too, and here’s just one.

Tom Eckersley cow jug pack parcels carefully GPO poster

Actually, seeing as it’s Tom Eckersley, let’s have two.

Tom Eckersley cat ornament poster GPO pack parcels carefully

Judging from the posters though, (these are all from between 1950 and 1953) there was a Post Office standard approved way of packing parcels carefully.

Caswell 1953 GPO poster

Dennis Beytagh 1952 parcel wrapping poster

So that’s two pieces of string round the long side, one round the other, although I still have no idea how to knot it.   Hans Unger, meanwhile, is even more specific about rigid boxes and string in 1950.

Hams Umger 1950 poster wrapping parcels GPO

This one, though, is the most instructional I have managed to find (it’s artwork by the way, artist not known).

Artwork for a poster. Subject: Careful packing of parcels. Artist: Not known. GPO 1950

I think even I could have had a go at the process now, although I still don’t know how to knot the string.

Of course (and you might have guessed that the whole post has been leading up to this) the real challenge that faced the Post Office was blackberries.  Sent in a non-approved fashion.

Karo soft fruit by post genius GPO poster

Did people really send them in a basket?  And expect them to get there?  I am boggled at that thought.  But the GPO weren’t, they produced more than one poster, which means that it must have happened at least twice…

soft fruit packing gpo poster

The GPO weren’t alone though, British Railways also had problems with parcel packing and addressing.

'Address your package clearly and help the Railway Staff to help you'. Poster produced for Great Western Railway (GWR), London, Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS), London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) and Southern Railway (SR) to remind customers to address packages clearly, as illegible addresses cause delays. Ar'Address your package clearly and help the Railway Staff to help you'. Poster produced for Great Western Railway (GWR), London, Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS), London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) and Southern Railway (SR) to remind customers to address packages clearly, as illegible addresses cause delays. Artwork by Miles Harper.twork by Miles Harper.

The problems might have been similar but it has to be said, the GPO’s poster design was infinitely superior.

You also get the feeling from their posters that they don’t actually like parcels that much.  They’re just trouble really, when your main business is really running trains.

British Railways staff poster. 'Don't Accept Packages which are Unfit for Transit', BR staff po'Don't Accept Packages which are Unfit for Transit', BR staff poster Artwork by Frank Newbould.

That, incidentally is apparently a late Frank Newbould from 1960,  It’s also quite mild in tone compared to some.

But nothing gave them an excuse like the war.  At last they could say what they really thought.

Fewer parcels World War two christmas poster british railways

Can you even send a parcel by railway now?  Probably only if it is tied up with string.