Luring Londoners Underground
The above poster, ‘No Wet, No Cold’, is by Frederick Schneider Manner and dates from 1929.
With the possible exceptions of the art nouveau Parisienne metro posters and JC Leyendecker’s Arrow Collar ads, the London Underground posters represent one of the most astonishing collections of advertising art ever assembled. But what they also do is provide, in mosaic form, a complete image of a city.
In 1927, Frank Pick had this to say about them; “It may be supposed that their purpose is immediately directed to securing passengers. In some instances this has been the case, but in as many instances the purpose has been the establishment of goodwill and good understanding between the passengers and the companies… Even when the purpose has been to secure passengers it has been the practice to proceed by indirect means. To create a feeling of restlessness, a distaste for the immediate surroundings, to revive that desire for change, which all inherit from their barbarian ancestors.”
Now Christie’s Auction House is hosting a huge sale of the posters, and for some weird reason I just got sent the catalogue. Many of the posters are in sets of four or more. There’s one for the five senses, another for the four seasons and so on.
A lot of my favourites are here, such as the Oxford Circus winter poster featuring an ice-cherub on the roof of the station blowing snow over brightly coloured coats, but I have a feeling they’ll go for prices way beyond their reserve, because these rarely seem to come up in auction.