Further training

I’m really glad we don’t collect railway posters very seriously.  Because we’d be stony broke by now.  This year has just been sale after sale of high quality railway posters (with a fair slew of London Transport stuff too).  And now, to round off the year, there’s another one.

Onslows’s December sale titles itself  Vintage Travel Posters including Fine British Railway Posters.  Which means posters like this, by the dozen.

Somerset Railway poster Frank Sherwin c1930
Frank Sherwin, 1930, est. £800-1,200

And this.  Which is quite interesting, because it’s by Brian Batsford, of book cover fame.

Brian Batsford Somerset vintage GWR railway poster
Brian Batsford, 1930, est. £800-1,200

Although there is also this too, which, as I think I have mentioned before, every right-thinking home should have a copy of.

Eric Lander English Lakes vintage British Railways poster
Eric Lander, est. £700-1,000

Plus there’s lots of pictures of trains too, but I shan’t be bothering you with those today, or indeed on any other day.  Apparently most of the collection comes from a single estate sale, although I think I can recognise a few things which did also appear at Morphets earlier this year.

Bruce Angrave Parties of 8 vintage British railways poster
Bruce Angrave, est. £250-300

Royston Cooper vintage railway Harwich poster
Royston Cooper, 1959, est. £200-300

These Holiday Haunts posters by Abram Games and Tom Eckersley also appeared there as a single lot too – the Eckersley in particular is a fine thing.

Abram Games Holiday Haunts vintage railway poster
Abram Games, 1960, est. £200-300

Tom Eckersley vintage Holiday Haunts railway poster
Tom Eckersley, 1962, est. £200-300

Elsewhere, it’s the usual Onslow’s miscellany.  This poster seems to appear in almost every single sale they do, which at the price it goes for is quite an achievement.

Fortuno Mat Southport theatre poster from Onslows vintage Cheshire Railways
Fortunino Matania, 1933, est. £6,000-8,000

This is the rarer version, apparently, because it’s overprinted with the logo of the Cheshire Lines Railway rather than the LMS.  I have to say that I can’t quite bring myself to be bothered about the difference.

There’s also the usual selection of London Transport posters.  I love this Sheila Robinson (which comes with four other posters, it’s all the rage these days).

Sheila Robinson vintage London Transport poster Royal London
Sheila Robinson, 1953, est. £200-300.

We once owned a LT poster by her and sold it.  I still don’t know what was going through our minds at that point, and now every time I see one of her designs I am filled with remorse.

These James Fittons are also rather good too.

James Fitton vintage London Transport poster
James Fitton, 1936, est. £400-600

James Fitton vintage London Transport poster
James Fitton, 1937, est £200-300.

There’s also a complete set of four of these Austin Coopers, one of which featured in the last Christies.

Austin Cooper, 1933, est. £1,000-1,500

Although at that kind of estimate, a set of four is going to be a pretty substantial investment.

I also rather like this.  And it’s a lot cheaper too.

Farleigh vintage London Transport poster 1947
John Farleigh, 1947, est. £200-300.

But then I am always a sucker for a chalk hillside figure.

There is still more to consider in there, but I’ve run out of time.  So, World War Two posters and other miscellaneous bits and bobs next week.  And an Advent calendar too.

Leave your Paddens here

I spy with my little eye…

Torquay and Paignton Daphne Padden poster from Elephant and Monkey

…some Daphne Padden posters for sale.  And I’m rather pleased about it as her work really does deserve more attention and acclaim than it has got so far.

The one above is being sold by Elephant and Monkey for £95, but Fears and Kahn have this (for a somewhat more taxing £475).

Daphne Padden luggage coach poster from fears and Kahn

While Present and Correct have all of these,

Daphne Padden reindeer coach poster 1964 Present and Correct Daphne Padden lion savings bank poster Present And Correct

Daphne Padden knights coach hire poster Present and Correct

at prices ranging from £135 – £175.  Which is a lot more of her work than I have ever seen on sale before – and at interestingly variable prices too; it’s still perhaps a bit early to judge what her real market value is yet.

Now while I would like to read this entirely as the start of the Daphne Padden revival, that is of course just a small part of what’s happening here.  These bright and punchy 1960s graphics have been starting to surface for a couple of years now – mainly due to the efforts of shops like Fears and Kahn.

But the real story is, of course, Morphets.  The vast slew of 1960s and 70s posters that were released at their July sale is now working its way into the dealers.  Because all of these people aren’t just selling Daphne Padden, they’re also selling a whole heap of other coach and rail posters along with them.  So Elephant and Monkey have Royston Cooper and Harry Stevens.

Royston Cooper bus to airport poster from Elephant and Monkey

Harry Stevens vintage coach poster from Elephant and Monkey

Fears and Kahn have this splendid stag.

New forest stag coach poster from Fears and Kahn

And Present and Correct can offer this rather good rendition of a family tree.

Family tree vintage coach poster Present and Correct

In each case there are plenty more where that came from on the websites too, small and large, cheap and expensive.  But, at my guess, almost all originating from Morphets.  The only one I know wasn’t in the sale was the Daphne Padden lion and mouse – but I am happy to be corrected if anyone out there knows better.

What will be interesting to see is whether this  lasts.  Did the Morphets sale release a flood of stock onto the market which will come and then disappear because no one else preserved these posters?  Or will the high prices entice more of these graphics out of their hiding places and up for sale?   I’d love there to be more, but I’m not really optimistic that they are out there to be sold.  We shall see.

1962 and all that

Our subject today is this, which arrived in the post the other day.

International Poster Annual 1962 - cover

It’s a book which does what it says on the cover. Posters, lots of them.  And most of them from 1960 or 1961.  Can’t argue with that.

Unfortunately, the vast majority are reproduced in black and white.  The only artists to earn some colour coverage for Britain are Ronald Searle and Hans Unger.

Ronald Searle rum advertisement from IPA 1962

Unger coach poster IPA 1962

(The Unger is a poster for coach travel, but you’d be hard pressed to guess that as there is no text in the reproduction at all.)

Sadly, most of the rest of the pictures are not only monochrome, but also small; I’ve found better images where I can but, as you will see, this hasn’t always been possible..

Now I do like these kind of annuals, and not simply because they’re a lovely wallow in a golden past of poster design.  It can also be thought-provoking to see a cross-section through time like this.  For a start,  you get a good overview of where design was.

And 1962 turns out to have been quite an interesting time; the whimsy of the mid to late 1950s hadn’t quite departed yet, but the tide of sans-serif modernism was definitely on the rise.  Which means that the Ronald Searle illustration above was paired with these three Alan Fletcher designs on the opposite page.

Alan Fletcher designs in IPA 1962

And London Transport could win commendations for this,

Bartelt vintage london transport poster 1960

as well as this – which was, incidentally, produced by an agency, S.H. Benson Ltd, rather than a designer.

Vintage LT poster S W Benson agency, IPA 1962

The times they are indeed a-changin’.

But there’s another way in which this selection is worth our attention; the posters included are not simply an archaeological sample of posters past, they’re also a picture of what 1962 thought was important then.  Which isn’t always what you might expect now.

There are some things on which past and present do agree.  London Transport posters are good – these two are by Dorrit Dekk and G.B. Karo.

Dorrit Dekk london transport poster from ipa 1962

G B Karo vintage London Transport poster from IPA 1962

In total, over a fifth of the posters shown were designed for London Transport, which is an impressive proportion.  But just to prove that posterity (or archival survival) doesn’t always get it right, there are even more coach posters than there are LT exhibits (by one), including these two Royston Coopers.

Royston Cooper go shopping by bus

Royston Cooper Express coaches to London

The same is true of the designers: Abram Games, Hans Unger, FHK Henrion and Tom Eckersley are also all, unsurprisingly, feted.

Abram Games conducted coach tours London Transport poster 1962

Abram Games for London Transport

Please Pack Parcels Carefully Unger GPO poster

Hans Unger for GPO

But then there are a few designers included that might not be the first to spring into your mind today.  1962 really liked four of these coach posters by Christopher Hill.

Coach poster Christopher Hill from International Poster Annual 1962

Coach poster Christopher Hill from International Poster Annual 1962

His stuff doesn’t seem to come up much these days(apart from at Morphets, of course, what didn’t) but these two are both available at Fears and Kahn for the right kind of money.

I’ve never heard of Donald Smith before at all, but he has five posters in the book in all, including these three very delightful posters for the Post Office Savings Bank below.  (Where is the Post Office Savings Bank archive, does anyone know?)

Donald Smith Posters in IPA 1962

Donald Smith posters in ipa 1962

But most mysterious of all was Barrie Bates.  He had four posters included, and they’re all very striking.

Barrie Bates posters in ipa 1962

Barrie Bates from IPA 1962

So why had he not turned up elsewhere?  It transpires that there was a very good reason for this.  Because in 1962, he became someone else altogether.

Billy Apple artwork

When he came to the end of his graphics course at the Royal College of Art, Barrie Bates bleached his hair and eyebrows in order to become Billy Apple, conceptual and pop artist extraordinaire.

American Supermarket exhibition 1964

This is American Supermarket, the 1964 New York show, a landmark Pop Art exhibition.  With exhibits by, amongst others, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Tom Wesselmann, Jasper Johns and one Billy Apple.

Apple/Evans was working for Madison Avenue advertising agents at the same time, which rather pleases me, as he was eliding the difference between product and art even more than the exhibition might have suggested.  And it’s also good to know, given how good his 1962 work was, that he hadn’t given up on graphics altogether.

P.S.  You’ll be pleased to know that Billy Apple is still working as an artist in Auckland, New Zealand, and there is plenty more information about him and his work out there if you’re interested.

Auction thoughts

Once the dust had settled, I had hoped to come up with some conclusions about the Morphets bus and train extravaganza of last week.  But the more I look at the results, the more my brain becomes addled.  This isn’t just the result of the scale of it all, although that hasn’t got any better, it’s also because I’m not entirely sure there are that many conclusions to be drawn.

So let’s start with some simple thoughts.  Expensive posters sold for lots of money.

Southport Matania Vintage LMS railway poster

This went for £2400, which is pretty much what I’ve seen it go for every time.

People still like to buy pictures of trains.  It seems that they also like to buy pictures of motorbikes too.

Isle of Man TT racing vintage railway poster

Any other reason for that fetching £300 rather escapes me.

People like pictures which look like real things in general.  So this Riley fetched £500,

Riley Camping coaches vintage railway poster

while the Amstutz of the same subject only went for £240.  (Apparently it is possible to go and stay on restored camping coaches even today.  I must investigate further.)

Amstutz Camping Coaches vintage railway poster

Most of all though, what people like to buy most of all are nice pictures of landscapes which look a bit like proper art.  So posters like these,

River Findhorn vintage railway poster

Scilly Isles Vintage railway poster

are highly desirable and go for £600 and £750 respectively.

This rule seems to work for bus posters too – this Lander reached a very respectable £340.

R M Lander Riches of Britain coach poster

Although even I can see the appeal of that one.

But as I mentioned before, things which looked less like fields and more like design didn’t do so well.  The Paddens, Coopers and their like didn’t reach anything like the prices I expected.  There were a few exceptions to this which are worth taking a look at.

Firstly, kitschy 50s graphics seemed to be selling well – this Bromfield fetched £440.

Bromfield Golden Arrow vintage railway poster

While at a lower level, this rather nice Studio Seven pair fetched £70, more than most coach posters were managing to do.

Studio Seven two hire a coach vintage poster

Even more odd was that, in a complete reversal of the normal situation, artworks fetched more than the original posters.  Royston Cooper’s airport artwork went for £320,

Royston Cooper original artwork for airport coach poster

when you could have picked up the poster, as one of a pair, for £38.

Daphne Padden original artwork for coach poster

While this Daphne Padden ark-work sold for £240, more than any of her individual posters made.  Go figure.

But there was one big exception to the rule that good design didn’t sell – although perhaps not quite so much of an exception considering that it is a picture of a field as well.

Tom Eckersley Lincolnshire vintage railway poster

Tom Eckersley’s Lincolnshire reached £550.  Two readers of this blog battled with us over it – we lost but it’s going to a good home over in Norfolk so I don’t mind.  Not too much anyway.

Poster Mathematics

I can’t resist a few instant observations about Morphets.  The full set of opinions will have to wait until I’ve got the complete results in front of me and some more time, but for the moment, we’ll deal with what I know.

Firstly, it’s clear that not many people like Daphne Padden and Royston Cooper as much as we do.

2 x Royston Cooper vintage coach posters from Morphets

This is both a good thing and a bad thing.  It does mean that we can pick up some lovely posters for rather less than we thought we’d have to pay – the lot above went for just £85.  How anyone can not like that right hand poster in particular is beyond me.  I particularly love it because the woman looks like all of my aunts in old photographs, but that’s incidental, it’s wonderful anyway.

2 x Royston Cooper coach posters from Morphets

But it also means that their work still isn’t getting the acclaim and recognition that they both deserve; particularly when kitschy 1950s seaside posters were going for way more.  Perhaps it will just take a bit longer for the 1960s to come into fashion properly.

Eckersley Royston Cooper vintage railway posters

A possible third explanation (which would account for more than just these prices) is that the kind of people who buy 1960s posters don’t tend to hang around at railway and coach sales in Harrogate.  Which is their loss.  The left hand one above, incidentally, is an Eckersley which I have never seen before.  Has anyone else spotted it elsewhere?

Although more likely is that there just isn’t a developed enough market in coach posters for people to be competing over them.  Because 1960s London Underground posters did do well, with most of them hitting £80 – £100+, like this delectable John Burningham.

JOhn Burningham Autumn London Underground poster

All of which adds up to the fact that I don’t really have a definite answer on Padden and Cooper values; if you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

My other main observation is that auctions and their prices operate outside the world of logic, and I shall illustrate this with a small amount of mathematics.

This pair of posters went for £80.

Daphne Padden Royal Blue coach poster Morphets

If we say that the poster on the left is worth no more than £20, that values our sailor at £60.  So far so good.

This pair then went for £260.

2 x Daphne Padden Royal Blue vintage coach posters

Which makes our friends with the cat worth £200-ish.

Except that, just a few lots later, this went for just £65.

more vintage coach  posters from morphets

Despite the fact that this version is in better condition.  Unless the very subtle differences in the typography matter to people, this makes no sense at all.  But I can’t think about it any more because it’s making my head ache.

More thoughts on Morphets later on this week, something completely different tomorrow.

Artist and Balloonist

Last time I posted about Royston Cooper, I was shocked just how little it was possible to find out about him.  To the tune of nothing.  Christies could give me his dates, but that was about it.

Royston Cooper bus tour posters from Morphets

But, his widow, Marie, got in contact with the blog to say thank you for mentioning him.  I asked her to write something about him, so that the next person to search would at least do better than I had.

Owl mystery tours coach poster Royston Cooper

And she has, for which I am very grateful.

Royston Cooper 1931-1985 Designer/artist/painter/typographer.

Commissioned to design posters/prints/decorative drawings/brochures/annual reports/packaging/restaurant decor for major companies in UK and Europe. Always with a new approach.

Jovial character. Studio of 23 years in Belsize Park, London NW3.  Popular meeting place for clients and artists alike.

Also Balloonist flying his own balloon ‘Sunny Money’ G-BDBI in UK/France/Belgium/Germany/Sweden/Gordon Bennett races in the U.S.

I rather like the sound of him from that.

Royston Cooper giraffe coach poster from Morphets

Since I first wrote, Artist Partners have also put up a slightly more formal CV for him, which is great.  I’m really pleased that his life is now being recognised in proportion to the wonderfulness of the work.

Air Coach poster Royston Cooper

All the images, incidentally, are Royston Cooper posters which are on sale at Morphets in a few weeks time, and I’ve chosen only ones I’ve never seen before.  Don’t eat them all at once.

Two coach posters by Royston Cooper from Morphets