Auctions | July 13, 2016

Visual Extravaganza of Vintage Posters at Swann Galleries August 3

Lot-531-Sutro copy.jpgNew York—Swann Auction GalleriesAugust 3 auction of Vintage Posters is a visual extravaganza, with imagery ranging from posters designed by blue-chip artists to Hollywood B-movie advertisements and American work incentive posters. The largest section of the sale is formed by a run of nearly 200 political, wartime and propaganda posters.

            World War I highlights include heroic British and Canadian recruitment images, including the cover lot for the sale, Edith Kemp-Welch’s Remember Scarborough! / Enlist Now, 1914 (Estimate: $1,000 to $1,500), while a poster issued by the German Imperial Admiralty Staff, showing U-boats in the Mediterranean, offers an aesthetic counterpoint. A run of James Montgomery Flagg posters features the unforgettable and iconic I Want You, 1917 ($6,000 to $9,000); two images for Wake Up America Day, 1917 (each $4,000 to $6,000) and Travel? Adventure? Join the Marines, circa 1918 ($4,000 to $6,000). The top wartime poster in the sale is H.R. Hopp’s Destroy This Mad Brute / Enlist, 1917, which shows the horror of a German invasion as a violent, club-toting beast ($12,000 to $18,000).

            Chilling posters from WWII include Karl Koehler and Victor Ancona’s This Is the Enemy, 1942, winner of the National War Poster Competition held by MoMA ($4,000 to $6,000). International offerings include several Fascist Italian designs: one shows a skeletal Statue of Liberty looming over a burning hospital, [Here Are the ‘Liberators’], 1944 ($800 to $1,200). A Shanghai-printed poster, The Great Men of the World, depicts highly-ranked military officers of the Nationalist Party in China alongside Western leaders like Winston Churchill and Harry S. Truman, 1945-46 ($7,000 to $10,000).

            By value, top lots in the sale are by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, led by two literary posters: La Revue Blanche, 1895, showing Misia Natanson ice skating, and The Chap Book, 1896, which features Tom, the coachman for the Rothschilds, at one of the artist’s favorite haunts (each $20,000 to $30,000). Theatre posters are represented by Toulouse-Lautrec’s Troupe de Mille ?glantine, 1896 ($20,000 to $30,000), and a rare version of Alphonse Mucha’s La Dame aux Camelias, 1896, designed for a Sarah Bernhardt production of the Alexandre Dumas play ($10,000 to $15,000). A masterpiece of Art Nouveau design, Bernhardt is shown among a background of silver stars. The actress used the poster ten years later to advertise her American Farewell Tour.

            Other sections of the sale are devoted to early American theatre, circus, magic, and minstrels and black imagery in turn-of-the-century advertising. Artist and exhibition posters include Metropolitan Opera / Carmen, d’après Marc Chagall, 1966 and an Alexander Calder design Toby Moffett for Congress, 1974 ($1,200 to $1,800 and $600 to $900, respectively). Hand-signed Pop Art posters include Keith Haring’s A Very Special Christmas, 1987 and Andy Warhol / Colorado State University, 1981 (each $1,000 to $1,500).

            The sale ends with light fare: alluring travel images, international posters for a variety of known and bygone brands, and beach and summer resort posters. Prominent among these offerings are Ludwig Hohlwein’s circa-1911 image Marke PKZ / Burger-Kehl & Co. ($8,000 to $12,000); the giant poster for Sutro Baths, San Francisco, 1896 ($6,000 to $9,000) and Philippe Henri Noyer’s titillating Limonade Brault, 1938 ($4,000 to $6,000). 

            The auction will held Wednesday, August 3, beginning at 10:30 a.m. and continuing, after a short break, with lot 294 at 2:30 p.m. The posters will be on public exhibition on Thursday, July 28, from 10-6; Friday, July 29 from 10-5; and Monday and Tuesday August 1 and 2 from 10-6.

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

For further information, and to arrange in advance to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Poster Department Director Nicholas D. Lowry at (212) 254-4710, ext. 57, or via email at Live online bidding is available via

Image: Lot 529 Sutro Baths, 1896. Estimate $6,000 to $9,000.