3 October 2012
The purpose of posters
London Transport’s spare posters go under the hammer at Christie’s tomorrow.
‘Of course it's not about graphic design,’ said my friend, glancing at the high proportion of besuited viewers. ‘It’s about money!’
We were sipping drinks at Christie’s in South Kensington last night, where hundreds crowded to see the private view of ‘Posters with a Purpose: the London Transport Museum Sale’, writes John L. Walters.
Abram Games (1914-1996), ‘A TRAIN EVERY 90 SECONDS’, lithograph in colours, 1937, printed by Waterlow & Sons Ltd., London, 39½ x 24½in.
Top: Montague Birrell Black (1889-1964) ‘LONDON 2026 A.D.’, lithograph in colours, 1926, printed by The Dangerfield Printing Co. Ltd., 40 x 50in.
Edward McKnight Kauffer (1890-1954), ‘SHOP BETWEEN 10 AND 4’, lithograph in colours, 1947, printed by The Baynard Press, 24 x 15in.
Twemlow paid tribute to the great technical feats performed by anonymous individuals in printing presses such as Waterlows, who translated the poster artists’ intentions into crisp outlines and glowing colours.
He said that lettering was not one of McKnight Kauffer’s strengths, but suggested that the hand-rendered characters were ‘part of his charm’.
Edward McKnight Kauffer (1890-1954), ‘TREAT YOURSELF’, lithographs in colours, 1935-1936, 40 x 24 ½in.
A glance at the price estimates (nothing less than £1000) revealed figures that were beyond the means of most of the people in the room: designers, illustrators, students, curators, academics, and descendants of the original poster artists, including Simon Rendell (grandson of McKnight Kauffer) and Naomi Games (daughter of Abram Games). But there were several passionate collectors and a (we conjectured) smattering of high-net-worth individuals in nice outfits.
Harry Beck (Henry Charles Beck, 1902-1974), ‘UNDERGROUND MAP’, lithograph in colours, 1935, printed by Waterlow & Sons Limited, London, 25½ x 34in.
MacDonald (Max) Gill (1884-1947), ‘YOU’VE ONLY GOT TO CHOOSE YOUR BUS’, lithograph in colours, 1920, printed by Waterlow & Sons Ltd., London, 40 x 50in.
Misha Black (1910-1977) & Kraber (John Rowland Barker, 1911-1959) ‘London Transport and London’s Service’ lithograph in colours, 1947, printed by The Baynard Press, 39½ x 24½ in.
Posters With A Purpose: The London Transport Museum Sale
Christie’s London, South Kensington Saleroom, 85 Old Brompton Road,
London SW7 3LD, UK
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