STOURPAINE, UK – A rare collection of posters not seen at auction before are being offered for sale by Onslows Auctioneers on Friday, Dec. 14. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
The group of 26 colorful posters was printed toward the end of 1931, the numbered advertisements were issued one a week leading up to Christmas of that year, each promoting a different theme on Buying British goods. With the collection is an explanatory text-only poster relating to a broadcast message of Nov. 16, 1931, made by HRH The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, the King who abdicated. In the broadcast the future King talks about the importance of buying British goods or products from the Empire.
Most of the posters are titled “Buy British” and many are designed by well-known commercial artists of the day, such as Harry Riley, Bert Thomas and G.W. Goss. Probably the most sought after will be R Granger Barrett’s Britain Always First (below), the stylish Art Deco design shows the record-breaking Schneider Trophy Seaplane, Miss England powerboat, Bluebird and The Flying Scotsman, the poster is estimated at £300-£400/$382-$510. Two others with a sports themes of Rugger and Football are estimated £300-£350 apiece. Another charming anonymous design shows boy and girl at a shop counter, the boy saying, “ I want the kind my daddy makes.” It is expected to sell for in excess of £300. The collection was sent for sale by the grandson of the original owner who had been in business in Birmingham when the posters were issued.
Edward Wadsworth (1889-1949) Englische Graphik is the rarest poster in the auction and could be the most valuable lot ever sold by Onslows and has only appeared at auction on a handful of occasions over the last 30 years. Its appeal crosses over into the market for rare prints as well as being a poster that was highly regarded immediately collectible after it was published in 1923. In 1916 Wadsworth had taken up positions in Liverpool and Bristol with the Admiralty supervising the application of dazzle camouflage to allied shipping. This inspired his cubist woodcuts of the dazzle camouflage, which had been influenced by the Vorticists a short-lived group that celebrated the modern machine-age of which he was a member and close friend and collaborator of Percy Wyndham Lewis the founder of the movement.
The poster was the first designed by Wadsworth and adapted from his 1918 woodcut Camouflaged ship in dry dock the poster was used to announce the Board of Trade and British Museum exhibition of English graphic art held at the Wolfsberg Gallery, Zurich in 1923. It was said that “where the work of other commercial artists had been mangled into posters, here was a case of the “fine art” out-postering the poster.” Another Dazzle poster designed by Wadsworth in 1936 had been commissioned by Frank Pick of London Transport was used to promote travel to the Imperial War Museum. The poster is estimated to sell for £20,000 to £25,000.
Other notable posters in the auction include A.M. Cassandre’s Etoile du Nord, 1927 estimate £9,000 to £12,000, Cuneo’s On Early Shift, 1950 (£1,000-£1,500), T.D. Kerr’s Famous Expresses, 1927 (£800-$1,200), Merriott’s Cornwall (£2,000-£2,500), and Charles Paine’s Empire Marketing Salmon Fishing in Canada, (£1,500-2,000).
A rare tourist poster from circa 1940 for Kilimanjaro Tanganyika Territory by P. Ginner is expected to exceed the estimate of £300-£400.
The auction takes place live online only on Dec. 14 at 2 p.m. UK time/9 a.m. Eastern.