Retro Poster


Retro Poster

spirations of past consumers. Their popularity is fuelled by nostalgia and, judging by the way their appeal is growing, collectors will soon be pining for the era when they were less expensive.

Notices advertising products, sales, and events have existed for centuries, but they were largely unillustrated. The modern advertising poster was horn in the 1860s when the French artist Jules Cheret exploited developments in co lour

lithographic printing, which made the mass-production of attractive designs and eye-catching images possible for the first time. Cheret's fame* grew, and his Art Nouveau designs advertising the Moulin Rouge and Folies-Bergere music halls in Paris in the 1890s are now legendary.

All in a brand name

Retro Poster

Retro Poster
Progressive firms soon recognized the power of this new promotional tool to fix a brand image in the minds of consumers. Pioneering designers such as Cheret and Leonetto Cappiello were skilled in using striking artwork to convey a sales message. Cappiello's 'L'Aperitif for Campari (1921) captures

the product's appeal - a bitter-sweet slice of sophistication - by using the image of a clown inside a twist of lemon. Such posters are beyond most people's pocket, but there are plenty of others that can be found for £50-200. For example, an early 20th- century poster for Monis Cognac Champagne can be worth .£150-200.
Although France led the way, other countries followed. Posters for Coca- Cola and Guinness first appeared in the 1920s. Early posters for these and other enduring brands are desirable and fetch high prices. For example, a colorful 1940s Oxo poster can fetch around £300. Although posters for many well-known brand names may be expensive as they have a strong following, a great many inexpensive examples of beautifully styled posters from all periods can still be found.

Saving the nation

Governments were also quick to spot the potential of the poster. During World Wars 1 and II, posters were used extensively: for example, to recruit
Retro Poster
soldiers and to seek National Savings contributions to support the war effort. Examples can be found for £50-100 or less, but those by notable names such as Norman Wilkinson and Abram Games can fetch £200-400 or more.

Period details

Vintage advertising posters have both an aesthetic and a nostalgic value. Those with strong, colorful artwork tend to be the most desirable, particularly if they evoke the styles or trends of their period. A 1950s Du Marn ier cigarettes poster showing an elegant woman in a foreign seaside location reflects the glamour and sophistication attached to overseas travel at a time when it was just beginning to become popular.

Retro Poster

Retro Poster
The typography of the poster is important too. It should complement the artwork and reflect the style of the time, such as the swirling lines of Art Nouveau or the angular, linear lettering used during the Art Deco period.
Sizing it up

Posters can vary greatly in size. Some were made for large billboards, but smaller ones were made for shops. Larger posters are more valuable, often fetching £800-1,000 or more. They
rail posters from this period are particularly sought after. But the supply of well-preserved examples is drying up, so prices are rocketing. A 1930s poster by Fortunino Matania for the London Midland & Scottish Railway Company (LMS) called 'Southport, for a Holiday in Wintertime', showing a scene of smartly dressed patrons outside a theatre, might have fetched £300-500 in 1990; today it is probably worth up to 10 times that amount.

The new day-tripper

Retro Poster
The railways, and in particular the London Underground, were among the first organisations in Britain to recognise posters as an art form. In 1907 London Transport began a poster campaign illustrating locations that could be reached by tube. Regional railway companies picked up on the concept and encouraged people to take day trips to the seaside or to the country. Eye-catching and brightly coloured images of calming activities - golf, fishing, relaxing on the beach - in beautiful scenery were designed to appeal to tired city workers in need of a break.

Iconic images

London Transport often commissioned posters by high-profile avant-garde artists, such as Edward McKnight Kauffer, Horace Taylor, and Man Ray. Prices for McKnight Kauffer's posters start at about <£800, although some experts consider them undervalued. Of the regional railway company posters, many of the best were produced for London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), Great Western Railway (GWR), London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS), and Southern Railway (SR). These come in two standard sizes: 102 x 64cm (40 x 25in), in portrait format, and 102 x 127cm (40 x 50in), in landscape format. Look out for examples by known artists such as Frank Mason and
Charles Shepherd (who signed his work 'Shep'), as they tend to be among the most eye-catching.

Many of the works by the leading artists are already in collections or change hands for thousands of pounds, but there are plenty of other striking posters to choose from for between ,£100 and ±500. Invest in those that show styles of the period, and those that you find appealing: if you like them, other collectors probably will too. Look for bright,
fresh colours and evocative depictions of popular resorts. Many of the more affordable posters were produced for lesser-known and smaller railway lines. They are usually in portrait format and slightly smaller than the larger, more valuable versions produced for renowned railways such as the GWR.

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