Auctions | October 6, 2016

Swann Galleries' Travel Posters Auction Surveys Trends in Transportation

162-Ragan copy.jpgNew York— On Thursday, October 27, Swann Galleries will hold an auction of Rare & Important Travel Posters, with images reflecting the excitement and globalization of the early- to mid-twentieth century, depicting popular new methods of transportation to nearly every continent.

One top lot in the sale is Leslie Ragan’s The New 20th Century Limited, 1939, a powerful art deco image of one of the last century’s most famous American trains. Estimated at $12,000 to $18,000, the image conveys the velocity with which the train sped from New York to Chicago; it was also featured on a limited-edition postage stamp.

The sale features a run of posters showing California in the early twentieth century. California / Wells Fargo Since 1852, by Adolph Triedler, 1917, emphasizes the Missionary origins of San Francisco, while 1922's Celebrate Days of ’49 / The Romance of California reminds potential travelers of the state’s pioneer and gold rush history ($3,000 to $4,000 and $2,000 to $3,000, respectively). The Chief to California / Cajon Pass shows “The Chief” speeding through the pass between the San Bernadino and San Gabriel mountains on one of its daily trips. The painterly mountain vista by Hanson Puthuff, circa 1936, is estimated at $2,000 to $3,000. If a train is too slow, United Air Lines / Southern California by Joseph Binder could get you there faster, circa 1952 ($1,200 to $1,800).

Nineteenth-century posters showcase ocean liners in majestic settings, such as Fred Pansing’s Canadian Pacific Railway Co.’s / Royal Mail Route to Japan and China from the 1890s, expected to fetch $1,200 to $1,800. Advertising on-board idyll is Red Star Line / Anvers - New York by Victor Creten, circa 1900, showing an elegant passenger lounging in bold contrasting colors ($2,000 to $3,000). Ocean liners were a popular form of transportation through the 1940s. Advertisements reflect changing trends and technologies: Roger Broders’s Marseille / Porte de L’Afrique du Nord, 1929, uses streamlined geometry of the 1920s ($6,000 to $9,000).

Images from down under include Australia / Australian Parrots by James Northfield, circa 1935, estimated at $3,000 to $4,000, and Percival Albert Trompf’s Australia, 1929, one of the first posters commissioned by the Australian National Travel Association, estimated at $10,000 to $15,000.

Further modes of transportation include travel by zeppelin. 2 Days to Europe / Hamburg, 1936, shows the Hindenburg taking off from the spire of the Empire State Building. The idea was abandoned when winds proved unpredictable at 1,350 feet above the city, so the landing location was moved to Lakehurst, NJ, where the Hindenburg would burst into flames the following year, effectively ending the popular use of airships in the United States. This dramatic poster is estimated at $8,000 to $12,000. Also available is a scarce version of Fly to South Sea Isles / Via Pan American with text, one of only three examples known to come to auction. The recognizable image by Paul George Lawler, circa 1938, shows an enormous sea-plane coming in for a landing in a tranquil harbor overlooked by a flower-crowned maiden ($8,000 to $12,000).

The auction will be held Thursday, October 27, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public Saturday, October 22 from noon to 5 p.m.; Monday, October 24 through Wednesday, October 26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, October 27 from 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated auction catalogue is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information or to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Swann President and Director of Vintage Posters, Nicholas D. Lowry at 212-254-4710, extension 57 or

Image: Lot 162 Leslie Ragan, The New 20th Century Limited, 1939. Estimate $12,000 to $18,000.