Largest assortment of Mather Work Incentive posters ever to come to auction featured in Aug. 5 sale


NEW YORK—Swann Galleries’ auction of vintage posters on Aug. 5 offers a fine selection of posters promoting warm-weather vacation destinations, a run of posters from the two World Wars, and the largest selection of Mather Work Incentive posters ever to come to auction. 

The sale opens with more than 60 beach and summer resort posters for foreign and domestic locations. Among the many French images are Ploz’s Chemins de Fer PLM / Vichy, Paris, 1900, touting the splendors of the French resort (estimate $3,000 to $4,000); Roger Broders’ St. Honoré les Bains, featuring beautifully dressed tennis players, Paris, 1928 ($4,000 to $6,000); and a pair of action-packed posters promoting Deauville and the polo matches held there ($700 to $1,000 and $800 to $1,200).

British highlights include Charles Pears’s horizontal-format poster promoting The Isle of Man / British Railways, circa 1955 ($2,000 to $3,000); and three advertisements for Shell Oil, among them, E. Hawthorne’s You Can Be Sure of Shell / North Foreland Lighthouse, London, circa 1934 ($1,000
to $1,500).

Other picturesque vacation spots include Bermuda, Greece, Hawaii, Jamaica, and Mexico.

Among the desirable posters from the First World War are Fred Spear’s Enlist, a haunting image of a drowned mother and child, victims of the sinking of the Lusitania, New York, 1915 ($4,000 to $6,000); Howard Chandler Christy’s If You Want to Fight, 1915 ($1,500 to $2,500), and Gee!! I Wish I Were a Man, 1918 ($1,200 to $1,800); William Dodge Stephens’ Teamwork Builds Ships, Boston, circa 1918 ($1,500 to $2,500); Clarence Coles Phillips’ propaganda piece for the U.S. Fuel Administration, Light Consumes Coal, Chicago, circa 1918 ($3,000 to $4,000); and the Yiddish-language version of Charles E. Chambers’s Food Will Win the War, 1918 ($1,200 to $1,800).

From World War II are Karl Koehler and Victor Ancona’s This is the Enemy, New York, 1942 ($2,500 to $3,500); Charles Coiner’s Give it Your Best!, 1942 ($700 to $1,000); and James Montgomery Flagg’s Help China! / United China Relief, circa 1944 ($800 to $1,200).

The auction offers 49 Mather Work Incentive posters, the largest selection ever offered at one time. Eight of the posters have never been offered at auction before. Among those making their auction debut is a wonderful piece of New York history, a silhouette of the Woolworth building with the title, The Woolworth Building was built with 5 cent pieces, 1924 ($1,200 to $1,800). Also of contemporary interest are a couple of posters warning of financial risks, Rats Carry Off the Dollars, showing vermin scurrying away with dollar signs in their mouths ($1,000 to $1,500); and Be a Tight Wad! — certainly a common sentiment these days ($1,500 to $2,000).

Scarce sports-themed images include Know Your Goal!, featuring football, 1924; Starters and Finishers, with runners on a track, 1924; and 2 Strikes 3 Balls and . . . , the baseball player knocks the last ball over the fence, 1925 ($2,000 to $3,000 each). Other Mather posters have nautical themes, flora and fauna, military, and historical figures.

Rounding out the sale are a run of works by Leonetto Cappiello, including Laveuse Mignon, 1921 ($2,000 to $3,000); and Art Nouveau works, such as Privat Livemont’s Absinthe Robette, 1896 ($7,000 to $10,000), Alphonse Mucha’s Monaco-Monte-Carlo, 1897 ($10,000 to $15,000), as well as Leopoldo Metlicovitz’s Sunlight Soap, Milan, 1900 ($3,000 to $4,000).

There is also a lovely selection of food and beverage posters, which includes A Panina’s Marsala Rallo, Bergamo ($2,500 to $3,500); vintage advertisements for automobiles, airlines and ocean liners; music hall and performance pieces; and choice movie posters, such as two very early Disney works, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cleveland, 1937, and Pinocchio, Cleveland, 1940 ($6,000 to $9,000 each).

The auction will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 5, and will continue after a lunch break at 2 p.m.

The posters will be on public exhibition at Swann Galleries on July 30 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; July 31 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Aug. 3 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Aug. 4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A full-color illustrated auction catalog, with information on bidding by mail or fax, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or may be viewed online at www.swanngalleries.com.

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid during the auction, please contact Gwendolyn Rayner at 212-254-4710 ext. 53, or via e-mail at grayner@swanngalleries.com.

More Images:

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Fred Spear, Enlist. 1915. 32 inches by 23 inches, Sackett & Wilhelms Corporation, New York. "Without a doubt the rarest and most elusive of war posters produced in the United States" (Theofiles p. 21). Estimate $4,000-$6,000. Photo courtesy Swann Galleries.
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John Atherton (1900-1952) Hawaii by Clipper / Pan American World Airways. 1948. 41 inches by 28 inches. Estimate $700-$1,000. Photo courtesy Swann Galleries.
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Be A Tight Wad! / Own Something! 1925. 48 inches by 36 inches. Mather & Company, Chicago. Estimate $1,500-$2,000. Photo courtesy Swann Galleries.
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The Woolworth Building Was Built With 5ยข Pieces. 1924. 48 inches by 36 inches. Mather & Company, Chicago. Estimate $1,200-$1,800. Photo courtesy Swann Galleries.

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