Travel Posters

The Financial Times has added another art market segment to its The Market series.   I have posted in the past on travel poster sales (click HERE) and market demand (click HERE). This post is on the travel poster market, and has the usual brief explanation, need to know, and top tips and pitfalls for the sector.  The usual caveats apply when inspecting based upon such brief and introductory reports.

The FT reports

Condition is everything – faded colours, rips, and water damage can reduce value dramatically.

What: Travel posters blossomed during the early decades of the 20th century and were designed to attract visitors to picturesque towns and cities all around Europe. Some featured stylised images in bold colours while others were carefully executed figurative works depicting the typical attractions of the places they were designed to advertise. In every case, they were a cheap and cheerful way of promoting the services of shipping companies, airlines and railways and were produced in their thousands. The fact that they were designed to be disposable, however, means survivors are relatively rare and the best examples can command impressive sums.

Need to know: Values of travel posters have been steadily rising since New York’s Swann Galleries staged the first US poster auction in 1979. Whereas fresh examples executed by leading artists and depicting popular destinations were once highly affordable, a good poster by a “name”, such as Britain’s Norman Wilkinson or Frank Mason and Ireland’s Paul Henry, can now realise more than £20,000. Collectors are especially drawn to the posters commissioned by PLM (Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée) Railways and those that promote the most popular European and UK resorts invariably make high prices. Posters depicting top ski resorts have also rocketed in value since wealthy chalet owners have been buying them for decoration.

Top tips: Try to buy posters that have been professionally backed on acid-free paper and linen and, where possible, avoid those that have been folded or heavily restored. If buying from a dealer, ask for an authentication certificate and ensure you are not merely buying a high-quality, modern reproduction.

Pitfalls: Condition is everything in the wide world of travel posters – faded colours, rips, foxing, missing margins and water damage can all reduce value dramatically. Be aware, too, that the work of the most sought-after artists, such as Roger Broders, Julien Lacaze and Adolphe Mouron (who made ‘Nord Express’, 1927) has been known to be faked.

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