Glamorous, original and evocative, vintage travel posters are eye-grabbing for so many reasons. Now, a selection of winter-themed posters are heading under the hammer, offering novices and collectors alike the chance to snap up some of the best examples on the market.
On Tuesday 18 January, Lyon & Turnbull is hosting a sale guaranteed to be a hit among admirers of vintage travel posters. The auction, titled ‘The Ski Sale’, features close to one hundred lots dedicated exclusively to the winter sports and travel, and is presented in partnership with vintage poster specialists Tomkinson Churcher.
The original lithographs include pre- and post-war ski posters of resorts in Switzerland, France, Austria and Norway, all in colourful and striking designs. There is a poster for most pockets, with estimates ranging from £400 up to £15,000.
Collectors are drawn to vintage posters for a rich variety of reasons: “they are highly evocative of their era and location, they show the development of graphic art and they have immediate impact; their original function being to stimulate, distract and communicate in an instant,” says Tomkinson Churcher.
“This combination of cultural significance and visual appeal gives the poster a very unique place in the eye of a collector.”
If you’re new to the world of vintage travel posters, there are several things to bear in mind.
“A new buyer should go for a piece that speaks to them, one that is evocative of a time or place, or that has visual appeal,” continues Tomkinson Churcher. “I always think it's best to trust your instinct when buying posters, as a successful poster is one that has a very immediate impact.”
“Posters, by their nature, were made to last for just a few months, designed to fulfil a specific function rather than last the test of time. As a result, many posters show signs of age and are likely to have some imperfections. Condition is key and we select posters that are in as good condition as possible. Buyers should always read the condition reports that we prepare in advance on the sale.”
At the top end of Lyon & Turnbull’s sale is a classic 1938 design by Swiss graphic artist Alex Walter Diggelmann (1902-1987) for Gstaad. The first ski school in Gstaad opened in 1923 with the first ski lifts following in 1934-44. This poster, depicting a party on a gondola lift, is just the thing to decorate a lodge in one of Switzerland’s most exclusive resorts.
Equally celebrated are the designs created by French illustrator Roger Broders (1883-1953) for the fashionable beaches of the Cote d’Azur and the slopes of the Alps. Distinctive for their simple lines and bold, flat areas of colour, many were commissioned by the Paris Lyon Mediterranee (PLM) railway, There are three in the sale including Sports D’Hiver, which depicts stylised figures in colourful attire disembarking from a rail carriage at the Col de Voza on the Mont Blanc massif.
Otto Baumberger (1889-1961) designed more than two hundred travel posters, many of them promoting winter sports. His 1925 design titled Blue Lake, The Jewel of the Bernese Alps was created shortly after the opening of the Lötschberg mountain railway line. It depicts café society enjoying the crystal-clear waters of the famous Blausee.
A dramatic Hugo Laubi (1888-1959) design promoting the annual ‘white turf’ horse race on the frozen lake at St Moritz is guided at the low to mid range, while a 1939 summer Alpine scene encouraging ‘off season’ summer travel to the Arosa resort by Eduard Stiefel (1875-1968) is perfect for beginner collectors.
Striking images by two, as yet, unknown artists each carry mid-range guides. One of the gems of Norwegian poster art is an English version of Winter in Norway (L'Hiver en Norvège), an Art Deco rendering of two skiers on a sunlit mountain top. One of the skiers waits while another ties his bootlaces. It has the signature Schenk that, thus far, is a mystery for poster collectors.
Signed simply HR is a poster issued in 1922 by the Swiss Federal Railways to advertise the ski resorts of Sainte Croix and Les Rasses. It shows a stylishly dressed young woman on skis standing on the edge of a slope with the monochrome blue sky behind.
While the sale is now closed for viewing in London, it can be visited in person in Edinburgh at 33 Broughton Place EH1 3RR from 16 to 18 January. You can also view the entire catalogue online.