New York — Poster Auctions International’s (PAI) first sale of the year, on March 14th, finished at just under $2 million in sales. Rare Posters Auction LXXXIII surpassed expectations, thanks to passionate collectors and first-rate consignments.
Jack Rennert, President of PAI, said, “This sale featured one of the best collections we’ve had in recent memory, but none of us could have predicted the feverish action on auction day. Collectors exhibited an intoxicating zest for posters and bid competitively. Thanks to their enthusiasm, we achieved a number of never-before-reached winning bids.”
Perhaps the most unexpected result was for the anonymous Equal Rights for Negroes / Vote Communist from 1932, which featured James W. Ford, the first African American to run on a presidential ticket in the 20th century. Estimated at $1,200-$1,500, the poster made an incredible $24,000. After a year of intense racial reckoning, it held profound meaning for collectors.
All prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.
Other political posters also enraptured bidders. The 1915 Enlist by Fred Spear, in the rare original half-sheet format, captured $15,600 against an estimate of $5,000-$6,000. And L. N. Britton’s powerful 1917 Warning! was won for $13,200 on an estimate of $5,000-$6,000.
The Winter Sports collection proved desirable to many. Emil Cardinaux’s evocative 1920 Palace Hotel / St. Moritz was won for $10,800. Carl Moos’ 1919 Klosters / 14. Grosses Ski-Rennen whooshed down the slopes for $9,000 (est. $2,500-$3,000), and Hugo Laubi’s playful 1934 Parsenn Klosters was won for $7,200 (est. $1,200-$1,500). Roger Broders’ circa 1929 Winter Sports in the French Alps, which was featured on the catalogue’s cover, sold for $7,800.
Posters for transit experienced similar elan. The top sale in the category was the circa 1895 anonymous Cycles Gladiator, which sped off into the cosmos for $43,200 (est. $25,000-$30,000). Geo Ham’s powerful Monaco Grand Prix 1935 had a winning bid of $31,200 (est. $17,000-$20,000); Noel Fontanet’s 1946 Grand Prix des Nations cruised off with a $6,000 winning bid (est. $2,000-$2,500). The anonymous 1891 Voyage Autour du Monde / Round the World sold for $21,600; Jupp Wiertz’s 1936 Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei was won for $15,600 (est. $10,000-$12,000); and Leslie Ragan’s iconic The New 20th Century Limited, from 1938, totaled $14,400 (est. $10,000-$12,000).
Art Nouveau posters always perform well at auction, but this sale saw many notable winning bids. Fernand Toussaint’s luxurious 1896 Café Jacqmotte topped out at $31,200 (est. $17,000-$20,000). Privat Livemont’s alluring 1896 Absinthe Robette achieved its highest sale in 12 years: $20,400 (est. $7,000-$9,000). Collectors also vied for the rare and enthralling 1902 Prima Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte by Leonardo Bistolfi; it received a winning bid of $19,200 (est. $8,000-$10,000). Adolfo Hohenstein’s equally rare and powerful Iris, from 1898, was won for $9,600 (est. $3,500-$4,000). Ludwig Hohlwein’s work was similarly desired: the 1910 Yellowstone-Park achieved a win of $10,200 (est. $6,000-$7,000) and his charming 1912 Zoologischer Garten München sold for the same amount. Lucian Bernhard’s revolutionary 1910 Manoli received a winning bid of $9,600 (est. $4,000-$5,000).
As always, works by Alphonse Mucha performed exceptionally well. The highest sale at auction was his 1902 decorative panel set, The Stars, which was won for $72,000. Further highlights include the 1912 Sixth Sokol Festival, which sold for $36,000; the 1898 Waverley Cycles, which sold for $22,800; and an original 1897 drawing, Polly Pry, which sold for $21,600 (est. $12,000-$15,000).