Vintage London Underground posters to sell at Christie’s

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2015-06-26 10:33:43

Vintage London Underground posters to sell at Christie’s

25 May 2012, 10:04 GMT+01

On October 4th, Christie’s South Kensington London are to present a unique opportunity to obtain original advertisement posters from the London Underground, iconic images spanning the years 1913 through to 1955.

The auction will feature over 300 posters, with lots valued between £800 and £15,000. The collection as a whole is expected to realise upwards of £500,000. The items are duplicates taken from the archives of the London Transport Museum, which houses a collection of over 40,500 posters – one of the best collections in the world. The money will go towards this establishment to be used for future acquisition and restoration.

Director at Christie’s Nicolette Tomkinson stated that the selection of duplicates includes ‘some of the most recognizable and sought-after designs in the history of vintage posters’.

It all began with Frank Pick (1878-1941), who was commissioned to promote the Underground Electric Railways of London – the six independent companies that had decided to combine forces to better promote their services. In 1908, to encourage off-peak travel, he instigated a poster campaign of colourful modern designs. From there, the railway operators commissioned the best designers to promote them and create eye-catching advertisements for the public. These posters were objects of admiration, and a few copies of each were made for the public to purchase.

Designers became more and more keen to win a commission with the Underground, and the walls saw designs by the best-known, the cutting-edge, the most exclusive come and go. These artists loved seeing their work displayed in this very public way. This developed a level of quality in the advertising of the Underground that has sustained.

The vintage poster market has been spearheaded by Christie’s. It is an exciting and accessible area of collectibles, in price, aesthetically, and the simple definition of what is valuable: the more rare and well-preserved a poster, the higher its worth.

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