‘Condition and availability are two significant factors in determining a poster’s value. Due to limited print runs and the age of many posters, examples are often difficult to find in good condition. As such, it is a good idea to assess these aspects of a work before committing to a purchase. We would always advise buyers to assess the availability and condition of a work beforehand. When buying at auction, we would advise contacting a specialist who can provide a comprehensive condition report and any relevant details about the history of the piece.’
‘Part of the appeal of collecting original posters relates to the processes involved in their production. Lithography is a labour-intensive process in which an artist draws directly onto the stone. Posters were therefore often printed in small numbers and many were destroyed once they had served their purpose as advertisements. As a result, very few survive today, and the treasure hunt of searching for these rare original posters becomes one of the most rewarding aspects of collecting.
‘The high visual impact of poster art is another draw for collectors. The poster’s original function was promotional, and as such it was required to stimulate, distract and communicate instantly with passers-by. In order to create immediately memorable designs, artists often employed the most contemporary and progressive graphics, with many designers being involved in the advancement and production of new graphic styles and typographies.
‘The combination of manual production processes, bold visual appeal and cultural and art historical significance achieved through the use of forward-thinking graphic techniques, contribute to the growing appeal of the poster, and explain why it holds a special place in the eyes of a collector.’
‘Over the past 30 years, posters have risen in value and become increasingly collectable. In May 2014, Christie’s offered Toulouse-Lautrec’s seminal poster for the Moulin Rouge (see below). This is where the pictorial advertising poster as we know it began, and this example has been influential to artists and designers throughout the 20th century. Historically important, very rare and by the hand of a celebrated artist, at auction this iconic design ignited a telephone bidding battle. Ultimately realising £315,000, it became the most expensive poster ever to be sold at Christie’s.
‘Mid-century designs are gaining in popularity, a trend which we expect to see continue. Travel posters from the 1950s and 1960s are more widely available than their earlier counterparts and represent an attractive and affordable way to start your collection. Artists such as David Gentleman, whose work is featured in our upcoming sale, are good to look out for.
‘Among the most collectable travel posters are modern British posters such as those designed for the London Underground. Despite their status, it remains possible to acquire iconic London transport designs such as Edward Bawden’s The City (see below) relatively inexpensively.’
‘Highlights from the upcoming sale include a collection of Russian avant-garde film posters, notably Khaz Push by Grigori Borisov and Nikolai Prusakov (see below). This promotional poster, designed to promote Amo Bek-Nazarov’s 1927 film of the same title, employs Constructivist techniques to reflect the restless, revolutionary ideals set out in the film.’
‘Another highlight, this time from the American Modernist section, is Rural Electrification Administration by the prominent American graphic artist Lester Beall (see below).
‘The British section of the sale features a unique collection of poster maps designed by MacDonald (Max) Gill (Lots 147-157). Designed primarily for London Transport and the Empire Marketing Board, Gill’s maps, including Theatreland (see below) designed in 1915, are unique in their style, wit and playfulness. His works served not only as city guides but also as a form of entertainment for the British public in the early 1900s.’
To celebrate Gill’s work and the exceptional collection of his posters offered in the November sale, we are delighted to present a gallery talk which will take place at Christie’s South Kensington on Monday 10 November at 6:30pm to coincide with the pre-sale view. For more information on All-American Design, click here.