Swann Galleries Announces New York Vintage Poster Auction on Aug 3

On Wednesday, August 3, Swann Galleries will conduct a two-session auction of Vintage Posters, which features a wonderful assortment of summer resort and beach posters from around the world, World War I and II propaganda posters, and the ever-popular Mather Work Incentive posters.

The sale opens with a selection of more than 40 American turn-of-the-century literary posters—which is the largest offering of these works at auction in years. The majority are Edward Penfield’s designs for issues of Harper’s magazine. Penfield, known as the “Father of the American Poster,” depicted an elegant couple in a rowboat for the June 1894 issue; a Yalie at a Harvard vs. Yale football game in November 1894; and a raven-haired beauty cuddling two cats for Harper’s May, 1896 (estimates: $1,500 to $2,000 each).

Other highlights among the literary posters are Ethel Reed’s 1895 designs for the books The House of the Trees and Other Poems, and Miss Träumerei, done in the artists’ signature Japonisme style ($600 to $900 and $1,200 to $1,800 respectively); Louis J. Rhead’s The Century Magazine for June, 1896 ($1,200 to $1,800); and Joseph J. Gould, Jr.’s charming Lippincott’s / July, Philadelphia, 1897 ($2,000 to $3,000).

From turn-of-the-century Paris are four posters by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec from the Estate of Mitch Miller: Cycle Michael, 1896, the first of two images by the artist for British bicycle company Simpson ($8,000 to $12,000); Deuxième Volume de Bruant, 1893, advertising a volume of the performer’s songs and monologues ($7,000 to $10,000); Toulouse-Lautrec’s celebrated image of May Belfort, 1895 ($20,000 to $30,000); and a humorous depiction of a mad cow for the magazine La Vache Enragee, 1896 ($10,000 to $15,000).

A run of nearly 140 posters from the World Wars includes several by James Montgomery Flagg, among them his iconic I Want You for U.S. Army, New York, 1917 ($6,000 to $9,000); as well as a depiction of a sleeping Columbia in Wake up, America! ($6,000 to $9,000); and a female version of a lantern-lifting Paul Revere in Wake up America Day, 1917 ($4,000 to $6,000). There is also a selection of works by Howard Chandler Christy, including his rarest poster, Aviation / Fly with the U.S. Marines, 1920, which is his only poster featuring a man on his own, instead of one of his well known “Christy Girls” ($7,000 to $10,000). Also from WWI is L.N. Britton’s image of a downed fighter plane in Warning!, circa 1917 ($8,000 to $12,000).

World War II highlights include the very rare Right War Job / Find Out Where You Are Needed Most by Otis Shepard; the medium-size version of Charles Coiner’s Give It Your Best!, 1942; and a rare, powerful piece of Mexican WWII propaganda, Jose Bribiesca’s Mexico por la Libertad, 1942 ($1,200 to $1,800 each).

Mather Work Incentive Posters, with their straightforward illustrations and pithy sayings meant to inspire workplace productivity, have wide appeal. This sale includes one that has never appeared at auction before, I Protect My Pay by not Wasting Material, which is also one of the rarest of all Mather posters from the 1929 series ($1,000 to $1,500). Other highlights include the football themed Know Your Goal! / Keep on Keeping on, 1924 ($4,000 to $6,000); an argument against long-winded talkers, Say it with Snap! / Get to the Point, 1925 ($3,000 to $4,000); and Chance Takers Keep Hospitals Busy!, 1925 ($4,000 to $6,000).

The afternoon session of the auction starts with a lovely offering of beach and summer resort posters. These include a view of the bygone San Francisco attraction Sutro Baths, with bathers swimming within an impressive glass-roofed structure, 1896 ($12,000 to $18,000); John Held, Jr.’s cartoon illustration of a bonfire on The Enchanted Isle / Martha’s Vineyard, 1934 ($4,000 to $6,000); British destinations such as Falmouth, by Louis Burleigh Bruhl, 1927 ($1,000 to $1,500), Barmouth, by Alfred J. Hewins, circa 1930 ($1,200 to $1,800), and Weymouth, by Donald Maxwell, circa 1935 ($1,000 to $1,500); as well as a carefree image of waterskiers by SEM for Monte Carlo Beach, circa 1935 ($2,000 to $3,000); and Adolph Treidler’s image of bicyclists out for a moon-lit ride in Bermuda, circa 1950s ($1,200 to $1,800). Rounding out the sale are circus posters, Russian propaganda images, international travel posters, and a diverse assortment of vintage images, including an ad for Standard Gasoline with Mickey Mouse behind the wheel of a car, 1939 ($3,000 to $4,000); a run of stylish posters by Lugwig Hohlwein; Classic Art Nouveau works by Alphonse Mucha; and colorful advertisements for liquor, fashion and film.

The auction will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 3; and continues after a lunch break at 2:00 p.m.

The posters will be on public exhibition at Swann Galleries Thursday, July 28, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, July 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Monday, August 1 and Tuesday, August 2, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Image: Rene Lelong, Deloso, Paris, circa 1930. Estimate: $2,000 to $3,000

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