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Roger Broders, 'Monte-Carlo,' which sold for $10,000 ($13,000 with buyer's premium) at Swann.

Premier vintage tennis poster collection performed admirably at Swann

NEW YORK — Swann’s May 9 poster auction offered what it called ‘the world’s most preeminent private tennis poster collection.’ With more than 100 tennis posters spanning the 1890s through the 1950s, it was the largest collection of its type to hit the market. The posters were consigned by the Schwartz family, who used them to decorate their Midtown Athletic Clubs, the well-known luxury sports clubs with a history of excellence in tennis. Complete results for the sale can be seen at LiveAuctioneers.

There were many rarities, not least a series of half a dozen Wimbledon posters designed for the London Underground in the 1930s. Most of these stylized Art Deco designs are now familiar from reproductions, but seldom do the originals appear at auction. Each was estimated at $1,500-$2,000, but did significantly better.

An image dated in the collecting literature to 1922, but here correctly nudged to 1923, was the austere scene of two men in full whites created by Aldo Cosomati (1895-1977). Titled The Wimbledon Tournament June 25th – the day the 43rd staging of the Wimbledon Championships began – this was only the second year that ‘Wimbledon’ was held at its current venue on Church Road, near Southfields station in London. Measuring 17 by 12½in (43 by 31cm), it was graded B-plus and earned $4,200 ($5,460 with buyer’s premium).

Working in a similar geometric graphic style to Cosomati was the Derbyshire commercial artist Charles Burton (b. 1882). He designed 23 posters for London Underground in the interwar period, including those for the Epsom Derby, the Trooping of the Colour, and the British Industries Fair. Burton’s simple design for the 1930 All-England Club poster, titled Wimbledon From June 23, depicts a woman in an above-the-knee dress preparing to volley. A panel poster size at 10 by 13in (25 by 32cm) – it would likely have been displayed in a train carriage – it was in good condition and graded A-A-minus. The hammer price of $7,000 ($9,100 with buyer’s premium) was above the estimate, and many times the £881 (roughly $1,120) bid for another version of this poster at Christie’s South Kensington in 2001.

The Slade School-trained artist Phyllis Bray (1911-1991) was chosen to create the panel poster promoting the Wimbledon Championships for 1938. A core member of The East London Group of artists who worked and showed together from 1928 to 1936, this colorful tennis racket design may have been the only one she produced for London Transport. Back in 2012, when Christie’s conducted a sale of posters from the archives of the London Transport Museum, an example brought £2,250 (about $2,860) including buyer’s premium. The Schwartz collection poster sold at $5,200 ($6,760 with buyer’s premium).

Leading the sale was a 1930 poster created for the Monte-Carlo Country Club by the celebrated ski poster artist Roger Broders (1883-1953). The club, which boasted 21 tennis courts overlooking the Mediterranean, had been inaugurated two years earlier with great fanfare. Broders depicts two glamorous members in his signature manner with the beaches in the distance. Graded B-plus with some small replaced losses in the corners, the 3ft 3in by 2ft 1in (99 by 63cm), image sold as expected for $10,000 ($13,000 with buyer’s premium).