Pictured top: ‘London 2026 AD – This is all in the air’ was a posted by Montague B Black, designed in 1926, that presents a fascinating vision of London in the future, with an airport at London Bridge
- Amazing collection of more than 300 vintage posters expected to go at Christie’s auction for £800 to £15,000 each
- Posters from 1913 to 1955 made following decision by independent operators in 1908 to join forces on advertising
- Collection includes futuristic vision of London, and one suggesting people should go shopping outside of peak hours
By MARK DUELL
An extraordinary collection of more than 300 vintage London Underground posters which date back to as early as pre-World War One are set to fetch a combined £500,000 at auction. The posters, which include slogans such as ‘Shop Between Ten & Four’, ‘Please Pass Along The Platform’ and ‘The Lure of the Underground’ are expected to go for £800 to £15,000 each.
Auctioneers Christie’s described the chance to buy the posters – which date from 1913 to 1955 and are being held in South Kensington, south-west London – as ‘unrivalled and never-to-be-repeated’.
The Tube was known as ‘the longest art gallery in the world’ after advertising began in 1908 when the six independent railway operators running it decide to promote ‘the Underground’ together. Their plan was to increase passenger numbers and they commissioned top designers to promote anything from off-peak travel to sports fixtures, as well as leisure outings and seasonal sales.
There was huge public demand over the following years to purchase the posters, and around 150 copies of each were made available to buy for between two and five shillings in the 1910s. In the Twenties and Thirties, top designers such as Fred Taylor and Austin Cooper were attracted by the status of winning a commission, while other artists got their big break on the hoardings.
The Underground and London Transport – its successor from 1933 – kept duplicate copies of most of the posters it produced, and it is from there that the selection offered for auction by Christie’s. has been drawn.
‘Offering this carefully curated duplicate selection will help us to sustain and care for the core collection for future generations’
Sam Mullins, London Transport Museum director
The posters were taken from London Transport Museum archives and all money raised from the auction will be held by the museum for use in future buying, conservation and restoration.
Sam Mullins, director of London Transport Museum, said: ‘The complete LTM collection comprises over 40,500 posters and artworks.
‘Offering this carefully curated duplicate selection will help us to sustain and care for the core collection for future generations.’ ‘We hope that the King Street exhibition of highlights, as well as the full sale exhibition pre-sale, will provide insight into the often forgotten rich artistic past of the London Underground’
Nicolette Tomkinson, Christie’s director
Christie’s director Nicolette Tomkinson said the auctioneer is ‘privileged’ to have been entrusted with ‘some of the most recognisable and sought-after designs in the history of vintage posters’.
She added: ‘We hope that the King Street exhibition of highlights, as well as the full sale exhibition pre-sale, will provide insight into the often forgotten rich artistic past of the London Underground.’
The world record price for a travel poster sold at auction is held by Christie’s, after Man Ray’s iconic design for London Transport, called ‘Keeps London Going’, sold for a whopping £50,400 in 2007.