Beware of the Swarf

Attic find of the year has to be awarded to RoSPA, who went into their warehouse  last year and discovered 700 old posters.  I dream of doing something like that.  Especially if it produces posters like this one.

Leonard Cusden RoSpa poster  1951

This is by Leonard Cusden from 1951, and it’s the original artwork, as is, it seems, much of what was discovered in the back of the warehouse.

Not everything is of quite such high quality graphically, although this Bruce Angrave from the 1940s is rather fine.

Courtesy is Infectious, hand-rendered artwork, road safety, Bruce Angrave, 1940s © The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

While this poster by Digby Willis is just rather fantastic quite regardless of the style.

But Sensible Shoes Protect Your Feet, hand-rendered artwork, industrial safety, Digby Wills, 1954 © The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

I may be needing a copy of that when small Crownfolio hits the teenage years.

Many of the rest, like these two by Roland Davies and F Blake respectively, are more from the Ladybird books or Woman magazine school of design than high graphics.

Journey’s End, poster published by RoSPA and printed by Loxley Brothers, Sheffield, road safety, Roland Davies, 1960s © The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Don’t Lose Sight of Them, Protect Your Eyes at Work, hand-rendered artwork, industrial safety, F Blake, 1954 © The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

While this one, by Gus from 1963, is just plain odd, mostly because it makes me feel very sorry for the hen.

Accidents Don’t Just Happen, They are Caused, hand-rendered artwork, general safety, Gus, 1963 © The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Maybe it’s the gender politics making me uneasy.

Overall, though, the impression that these posters give is that RoSPA’s quality control systems, so thorough during the Second World War and in the years after, disappeared later on.

And they really did have a quality control system; their Publicity Committee was staffed by, amongst others, Tom Eckersley and Ashley Havinden, whose keen eyes really did let little dross through.  Here are the couple of posters that we own from this period, by G R Morris and Eckersley himself.

G R MOrris vintage RoSPA safety poster broken bands hurt hands

vintage Rospa child road safety poster tom eckersley

RoSPA are a really interesting organisation: there is a lot more to say about their posters and I’m rather surprised to discover that I’ve not written anything about them properly on the blog yet.  This is even more surprising given that their wartime posters get a mention in the book (did I mention the book? that I have written one? and that you can order it from Amazonalready?).  But most of what we tend to come across are the later posters, and these in the main would have caused the sensitive disposition of Ashley Havinden some pain I think.

Vintage ROSpa road safety poster 1960s

More posted here if you are a glutton for punishment.  To make up for that, I’ll go through some archives and dig out a few gems one of these days, because there are some great ones to be seen, most notably on VADS.  This one, which I’d never seen before now, is by Theyre Lee Elliott.

Theyre Lee Elliott vintage Rospa safety poster

However, I am a mere amateur in this field, because if you really want to know about RoSPA, the person you need to be reading is Paul Rennie,who wrote his PhD thesis on their wartime poster output, and has condensed this into a couple of articles which you can find here and here.

Rothholz vintage WW2 RoSPA poster

You can even –  such are the wonders of the internet – download his entire thesis from the British Library if you like.  I’d recommend it, it’s a good read.

If you’d rather form your own opinions about the posters, RoSPA are exhibiting 40 of their finds in Birmingham next week.  Two words of warning, though.  Firstly the exhibition is only on for three days.  But perhaps more importantly, RoSPA are mostly exhibiting reproductions rather than the originals themselves.  That said, it would probably still be pretty interesting, so if anyone goes, can you let me know all about it please?

Finally, from one Eckersley to another.  I mentioned this showcard last week when it appeared on eBay.

Tom Eckersley vintage Guinness poster showcard

The starting price was 99p; it finally went for £317.  I know it’s easier to display than a poster but even so, I’m still astonished.  Thoughts and explanations – along with corresponding valuations of the poster itself – in the comments box please.

Going dutch

It was the Van Sabben poster auction on Saturday.  As usual, there weren’t too many British posters there, but this time those few were mostly of very high quality – and ones that don’t often turn up – so it’s worth taking a look at.

To start with, there were five Abram Games.  This RAMC Parachute poster made the most, at €600 (approx £508), despite being my least favourite by quite some distance.

Abram Games RAMC parachute vintage poster 1944

I would much rather have had this one, for a mere  £386-sih.

Abram Games vintage ROSPA stacking poster 1947

Clearly someone who was very interested in sending telegrams to ships was selling their collection too, as there was this 1947 Rothholz (a bargainous £183)

H A Rothholz vintage GPO poster sending telegrams to ships 1947

And a 1949 Pat Keely on the same subject which went for just  £122.

Pat Keely vintage GPO poster radiotelegrams ships 1949

As well as yet another Games – probably the nicest of the three, and quite cheery for him.

Abram Games telegrams ships vintage GPO poster 1950

That went for £355, since you ask.

But the highlights of the sale for me were three Zero posters.  The starter is this lovely Central line extension poster from 1946, which made just over £200.

Hans Schleger vintage London Underground central line extension poster 1946

But that’s not the main attraction.  This fantastic WW2 Ministry of Food poster

Hans Schleger vintage WW2 poster grow your own food

would have been covetable enough on its own, but it came with its sibling too.

Hans Schleger vintage WW2 poster eat greens

Together they went for £560, which is actually very reasonable for posters of this quality – especially ones which don’t tend to come up at auction much.  We didn’t buy anything in the end, but I now wish we’d tried a bit harder with these two; we might never get the chance again.

Just to stop this blog being too insular, it is also worth remembering that the auction had hundreds of very lovely foreign posters for sale too.  Van Sabben quite often have a fair quantity of Dick Bruna for sale.  This auction had just a few, but this one, advertising childrens’ book week, is rather fun, especially just for £91.

Dick Bruna childrens book week poster

I also rather like this image by Kees Kelfkens, which I’ve seen come up before and went for £142.

1958 Kees Kelfkens poster give a book

But then I am always a sucker for a nicely drawn cat.  Especially one from 1958.

Even though the sale’s over, it’s still worth taking a look at the catalogue, as Van Sabben offer ‘aftersales’ – i.e. a chance to buy anything which didn’t go at auction.  So it’s still possible to get a 1943 Pat Keely for just over £100, should you so desire.

Pat Keely navy poster 1943

But don’t spend all your money now.  The Onslows’ sale comes up in just a few weeks time – more news on that when the catalogue appears.

Collect Posters Carefully

These thoughts are the result of what was quite literally fall out from my previous musings about poster sizes.  When I was scanning Eckersley’s illustrations, his obituary (from The Times, August 18 1997) dropped out of Poster Design.  And it told me something I didn’t know.

I’d always been aware of his being Tom Eckersley, O.B.E., but I had no idea that he’d got the honour in 1948, at the age of just 34.  It was in recognition of his contribution to the war effort.  Which looked like this.

Tom Eckersley Rospa poster

And also this, amongst many, many others.

Tom Eckersley Wartime ROSPA poster

He was awarded the honour for all of his posters for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents – and possibly also for the fact that he designed all of these posters while at the same time drawing maps for the RAF as his day job.  I find it really interesting – particularly in light of the current backlash against ‘Health and Safety’ – that this campaign was seen as such a central part of wartime propaganda, to the extent that Eckersley was, as far as I know, the only wartime poster designer to be honoured in this way.  Although please do correct me if that’s wrong.

But I’m not just telling you this because it’s an interesting snippet.  ROSPA, who commissioned all of these posters, have als0 put up an interesting archive of all of their World War Two Safety Posters, with images from Abram Games and Arnold Rothholz as well.  So there are lots of lovely images for you to look at, and a bit of history as well.  (If you want to follow the trail any further, it leads, with a certain inevitability, to Rennies who have many more posters on their site).