Those posters published by the "Big Four" Railway companies namely the Great Western Railway, Southern Railway, London Midland Scottish and London North & Eastern from 1923-1939 and the post war British Railways have become an established market with impressive growth in prices over the last ten years.
Posters were published depicting most of the towns and cities served by the different companies with subjects including beach scenes and seaside resorts, golfers towns and cities architecture, abbeys and cathedrals, famous landmarks, historical subjects, special trains and services, industry, ports, harbours and ships, areas of outstanding natural beauty also some continental resorts and cities. The most sort after designs are those featuring locomotives, dining cars, bathers, golf and field sports and those in the Art Deco style.
Most posters were published in two standard sizes, double royal (102cm x 64cm) and quad royal (102cm x 128cm.) Prices very much depend on the subject, design and artist, but expect to pay £300 and upwards for an attractive design and prices in the £2000-£5000 range are not uncommon for the most sought after designs. The dream like image of the "Night Scotsman" by Alexander Alexeieff published by the LNER in 1931 and the "Holy Grail" of railway posters sold recently for £34000.
The LNER under William Teasdale as advertising manager, led the way in poster design by employing the finest poster artists of the day. He believed "people must be made to want to travel, to discover the northern ports and beaches and the company served." The five leading poster designers employed under contract by the LNER, known to them as "The Big Five," were Tom Purvis, Frank Newbould, Austin Cooper, Frank H. Mason and Fred Taylor. Other artists names to look our for include; Septimus E. Scott, R. Higgins, E. McKnight Kauffer, Kenneth D. Shoesmith, Chas Pears, H.G. Gawthorn and Norman Wilkinson and Fortunino Matania. The post war artists that have become sought after include; Abram Games, Leonard Squirrell, Jack Merriott, Terence Cuneo and Claude Buckle.
Another popular area with collectors. Whether they depict Cunard Liners crossing the Atlantic or ships serving other routes from such companies as Union Castle, Blue Star, Orient Line, P & O or Royal Mail Line there is a strong demand. Good graphic by such artists as Frank H. Mason, Norman Wilkinson, Walter Thomas, Montague B. Black, Odin Rosenvinge and Chas Pears command prices starting at £300-£400 and running to £1000s for the rarest.
Early airline posters of the early 1920's and 1930's are probably the most difficult to find of all travel posters. Good examples for Imperial Airways depicting their Empire Flying Boats would be in the high hundreds. Those for other companies such as BOAC, BEA from the 1940's and 1950's by such artists as Frank Wooton, Lee-Elliott, Abram Games and many unknown designers are more common and affordable with prices generally in the region of £300 to £500 and many of those from the 1960's under £300.
Frank Pick had joined London underground in 1906 and engineered a comprehensive transformation of its publicity operations, employing distinguished modern poster artists to get the best results. He discovered the talents of the American E. McKnight - Kauffer early in his career. Amongst the many artists he employed were Fred Taylor, Frank Brangwyn, Laura Knight, Gregory Brown, F. C. Herrick, E. A. Cox and later the likes of Tom Eckersley, John Farleigh, Graham Sutherland, Edward Bawden, Abram Games and Hans Unger. The subjects range from London's museums and galleries, to the parks and gardens and the delights of the countryside in the Home Counties all served by the Underground and General Omnibus Co. Prices start at around £200 with the most sought after designs selling for £1000's. If space is a problem then the smaller format "Panel" posters are a great alternative.