Vintage poster depicting the Olympic and Titanic ships brings $36,000

Swann Auction Galleries considers sale best vintage poster auction in its history





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This Rugby League Cup Final small-format panel poster from 1933 measures just 10 inches by 13 inches. Designed by Herry-Perry (Heather Perry, 1893-1965), the piece brought a final sale price of $3,600. According to The London Transport Museum, panel posters were "produced for display in Underground car interiors, as well as on the inside and outside of buses and trams."

NEW YORK—On Nov. 15, Swann Galleries held its most successful vintage travel poster auction to date. This year’s auction of rare and important travel posters attracted heavy advance bidding, a full salesroom and active phone bidding, bringing outstanding results.

“Collectors, dealers, decorators and poster aficionados of all stripes competed vigorously for a wide range of exceptionally rare images, making this Swann’s highest grossing Travel Posters auction ever,” said Nicholas Lowry, Swann Auction Galleries President and poster specialist.

The sale’s top lot was Montague Birrel Black’s celebrated poster for the White Star Line, depicting the Olympic and Titanic ships at sea, which sold for $36,000 — matching the previous record for the artist achieved at Swann’s 2009 auction of Travel Posters.

Many notable ocean liner images promoted the Cunard Line, including Odin Rosenvinge’s Cunard Line / Liverpool – New York – Boston, showing the Lusitania, circa 1907, $10,800; Samuel John Milton Brown’s very rare Cunard Line / Europe-America, circa 1907, $7,200; and two posters by unknown artists, one depicting the Lusitania, circa 1910, the other the three red funnels of the Berengaria, circa 1925, $7,800 each.

Grand ships were also celebrated in A.M. Cassandre’s iconic posters for S.S.“Côte d’Azur,” Lille, 1931, $19,200, and Normandie, Paris, 1935, $13,200.

Powerful posters for travel by rail included Geo Dorival’s trio, Vers le Mont-Blanc, evoking the effects of the day and night sky on the peaks, reached via the gleaming zipper-like tracks, Paris, 1928, $18,000 and Leslie Ragan’s iconic image glorifying the famous New 20th Century Limited, Long Island City, NY, 1938, $19,200.

There were also several posters for the Southern Pacific Railway, among them Maurice Logan’s By Rail Across Great Salt Lake, with seagulls seen against a golden sky above two Overland Limited trains, 1928, which set an auction record for the artist at $10,200; as well as Jon O. Brubaker’s New York Central Lines/California, Long Island City, NY, 1926, $10,200; and Edward M. Eggleston’s alluring Atlantic City / Pennsylvania Railroad, Clifton, NJ, circa 1935, $12,000.

A fine selection of British rail posters featured a dynamic cubist image promoting tennis at Wimbledon via the Underground by Sybil Andrews using the pseudonym Andrew Power, London, 1933, which brought a record $24,000; Reginald Edward Higgins’ Scarborough, London, circa 1925, $10,800; and Herry-Perry’s Rugby League Cup Final, 1933, $3,600.

Tempting travel destinations included Roger Broders’s masterful Sainte-Maxime, Paris, 1928, $6,720; Ze’ev Raban’s very scarce poster promoting Tourism in Palestine / Come and See Erez Israel, Jerusalem, 1929, $9,600; and James Northfield’s dramatic fishing scene captured in Australia / Great Barrier Coral Reef, Melbourne, circa 1935, $8,400.

Among eye-catching aviation advertisements were Albert Solon’s Farman / Air Lines, Courbevoie, 1926, $4,320; Cassandre’s Fleche D’Argent / Aéropostale, Paris, 1929, $7,800; and Jupp Wiertz’s image of the Hindenburg in A Pleasant Trip to Germany, Berlin, circa 1935, $5,520.

For complete results, an illustrated auction catalogue, with prices realized, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc. , 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010.

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Measuring 39 1/2 inches by 24 1/2 inches, this circa 1905 Cunard Line / New York poster, designer unknown, had a presale estimate of $2,000 to $3,000; when the hammer fell, $5,520 changed hands.
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Selling for an impressive $9,000, is this extremely rare and beautiful poster advertising transatlantic travel on the legendary Lusitania. Although the ship's name does not appear on the bow of the vessel illustrated, we know it is the Lusitania both by her profile (with her signature four smokestacks) and, more importantly, the white stripe along the top edge of her bow. Her sister ship the Mauretania, which looked practically identical, did not have the band of white above the black hull. This poster, however, predates the Lusitania's maiden voyage (September 7, 1907), as she was never in regular service with this white stripe in place. The top of her bow was only painted white for her trials. This poster is exceptional, not only as one of a very few posters for the Lusitania, but also as a wonderful, artistic and evocative nocturnal seascape, in which a searchlight dramatically slices diagonally through the sky, prominently intersecting the diagonal hull of the ship. A fast and elegant ship, the vessel entered into popular culture and immortality when she was sunk by German torpedoes on May 7, 1915, an horrific event which helped precipitate the United States's entry in World War I.
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The year 1931 was a turning point in Cassandre's vision of steamships. Up until then he had focused on individual design components of the boats, such as their funnels and airshafts. Beginning with l'Atlantique, Cassandre began to concentrate on the ships as a whole. Cote d'Azur is the last of the "chimney series." He depicts the boat from the side, cutting off the prow and the stern and focusing only on the center, with the funnel, lifeboat, airshaft, and railing. This example reached $16,000, beating its $5,000 to $7,000 preauction estimate.
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Above and below: This pair of Southern Pacific posters designed by Maurice Logan (1886-1977) carried a final price of $6,480. The 23-by-16-inch promotional pieces were produced in 1928.
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The top lot of the sale, this New 20th Century Limited poster (40 inches by 26 1/2 inches), produced in 1938 and designed by Leslie Ragan (1897-1972), fetched a sale price of $19,200. This popular image has been featured by the United States Postal Service on a series of stamps commemorating the 1930s.

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