NEW YORK – Before the invention of the radio and television, businesses advertised their goods and services in print media. The most attractive means was posters—the bigger and brighter, all the better. Dozens of original 19th- and 20th-century posters are offered in a Jasper52 online auction that will be conducted Wednesday, Oct. 24. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers LiveAuctioneers.
Spirits were often advertised on vintage posters, especially in Europe, and a number of fine examples are found in the auction catalog.
A two-sheet poster touting the happy “hygienic consumption” of St. Raphael quinquina, a popular brand of aperitif, is contrasted with an illustration depicting the dank and worry-filled existence of imbibing absinthe and bitters. A caption on this French poster (above) reads: “A glass [of St. Raphael] before every meal is the patent for long life.” The poster is by Jose Belon, a painter whose designs, often in a humorous vein, were regularly exhibited in various French galleries between 1910 and the year of his death, 1927. His posters are scarce, but always interesting. This large poster has been laid on linen for preservation (est. $2,500-$2,600).
Leonetto Cappiello’s poster for Bitter Campari (below) is a startling departure from the sunny world of those who partake in St. Raphael quinquina. The Italian painter’s posters are steeped in theatrical tradition from his years as a stage caricaturist. He often chose pierrots, harlequins, or clowns to represent various products. Here, in one of his most inspired designs, the clown embodies the spirit of the orange peel, a zesty ingredient in Bitter Campari. This image is considered one of the classics of poster design. Printed in 1921, this poster is the smaller, one-sheet version (39 by 27 1/8 inches). It has been laid on linen for preservation ($8,000-$9,000).
Nonalcoholic beverages also made their way onto posters and into the Jasper52 auction, starting with a pleasing image for Le Mazagran Coffee Algerian, a brand of coffee served cold and sweetened. It took its name from the Algerian town from which it originated. This original poster by H. Gray and printed in 1894 is in “A” condition (est. $2,000-$2,200).
From the modern era, the auction serves up a large poster for Contrex, a popular brand of natural mineral water. The poster design is by Bernard Villemot, (1911-1989) a French graphic artist known primarily for his iconic advertising images for Orangina, Bally Shoe, Perrier and Air France. The poster is in “A-” condition with slight stains at the top (est. $1,000-$1,200).
Destinations have been a traditional poster subject. Charles Gesmar’s festive poster for the Moulin Rouge, the famous cabaret in Paris, was printed in 1926. This small poster is in “A” condition (est. $700-$800).
With World War II raging all around, the Hotel Belvedere in neutral Switzerland released an unusual poster in 1943. One of the grand palatial hotels of the European Alps, the hotel in Davos boasts a rich history, starting in 1875. Alois Carigiet (1902-1985), a Swiss graphic designer, painter and illustrator, created this poster (est. $1,100-$1,200).
Additional subjects represented in the auction include operas, concerts, circuses, food, sporting events and food products.
The auction will be conducted Wednesday, Oct. 24, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern time.