Tag Archive | William Nicholson

Original Antique Posters: Celebrating 100+ Years of Poster Design

Posters have been the broad disseminator of ideas and images that have BR0008_1_mreflected social and cultural changes over the course of history. Given their ease of display on walls and high visibility, posters deliver their messages to the masses in the most effective way. The discovery of colour lithography in the late 1700s/early 1800s was one of the major developments that changed poster design. This technology needed an artist who understood the intricacies of colour balance to develop the poster as an art form: Jules Cheret (1836-1932) was able to combine his artistic talent with his knowledge of lithography and is widely regarded as the father of poster art.

PS0343_1_mCheret ingeniously combined modern British printing press machines with a clean-cut approach to colours used in traditional Japanese woodblocks to print more cost effective posters that were bolder and boasted clear and well defined images. A number of notable artists, such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), followed his example in experimenting with new printing technologies and, by the late 1800s, posters were transformed into a recognisable art form and quickly became collector’s items.

Poster enthusiasts would venture out at night with damp sponges to remove the latest artwork by Cheret or Toulouse-Lautrec from the walls. PA0725_1_m (1)Poster exhibitions were held practically every year that further revealed the beauty of this new emerging art form to the public and influenced both advertisers and artists.

Being very topical, posters evoke the styles of the era and have very often survived as the best examples of art movements such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Constructivism. To celebrate over 100 years of poster design, here is our current collection of original antique posters dating from the 1890s to mid-1910s:

PS0269_1_m   PS0235_1_m
PA0321_1_m   PA0523_1_m
PS0193_1_m   PS0391_1_m
PT0657_1_m   PA0381_1_m
PA0712_1_m   PA0711_1_m
PP0332_1_m   PP0327_1_m
PA0861_1_m   PA0308_1_m
PA0347_1_m   PS0270_1_m
PA1037_1_m   PA0871_1_m
PA0947_1_m   PT0703_1_m
PT0746_1_m   PA0995_1_m
PA0573_1_m   PT0828_1_m
PA0267_1_m   PA0983_1_m
PW0015_1_m   PW0089_1_m
PP0212_1_m   PW0120_1_m
PW0080_1_m   PW0141_1_m


Visit our website at www.antikbar.co.uk to browse all our original vintage posters from around the world – cinema, travel, advertising, sport, war, propaganda. For more updates, follow us on:

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AntikBar is a Member of the International Vintage Poster Dealers’ Association (IVPDA), the London Art Deco Society (LADS) and The Association of Art and Antiques Dealers (LAPADA).



Posters, Loud and Clear

This article by AntikBar was first featured in the Art, Antiques and Luxury Design Blog:

Philips Autoradio 1950s


My Russian grandmother used to say: You say a word you loose a piece of your mind.  These days we do talk a lot not only by verbal but also by written means. The power of  the word is dwindling and becoming diluted but there used to be a world without the television and social media.  The only way to get a message across was by displaying it on the walls.  The only way of communicating the message to a wide audience at that time was the poster.

Posters used to be quite dull using mostly words, before French artists elevated them to an art form at the end of  the 19th century.  I believe it was initially a way for them to make extra money and then, as the artists got the flavour for this medium, their works became an art in itself.  Posters present the artist with a challenge of distilling an idea, product or message in one striking image that will grab the attention of passers-by.  The artist is  restricted by the size of the poster sheet and can only use a limited amount of words, so the visual has to be strong.  The art of cabaret by Toulouse Lautrec and the elegance of art nouveau by Mucha really drew attention to posters. Collectors and other talented artists followed suit.


As posters developed they absorbed and distilled styles of the era and form a major part of our social history.  Given they were not meant to be kept it is a miracle that any survived at all.  Designed to be plastered on walls and removed or overlayed with another poster, they were often printed on thin paper and easily deteriorated.  The ones that survived are mostly left-over stock from print shops, treasured collections of early enthusiasts or souvenirs from people involved in the trade.

In Great Britain poster art bloomed at a later stage, in part due to snobbism of the art elite and the critics’ belief that it is below the true standards of an artist to be involved in something as vulgar as advertising.  But the new generation of designers led by the Beggarstaff Brothers (William Nicholson and James Pryde), as well as growing popularity of this art form changed this perception and the British poster evolved.  Some of the most iconic designs were created in Britain to advertise the London Underground and educate masses during the WWII.


At the same time the Bolshevist Revolution happened in Russia and a newly born Socialist Government needed to convey its message urgently to a largely illiterate population.  Posters became an ideal medium for communicating to the masses.  It was an exciting time for the artists in Russia – censorship was largely abolished (as long as the Government was  still supported) and the idea of a State built for the people really electrified the creative minds.  A new art movement – constructivism was born with the belief that artistic talent should be only applied to creating useful things – architecture, furniture and, of course, posters. Some of the most striking designs were created during this period. Posters of the most prominent artists from this art school – A. Rodchenko, L. Lissitsky and the Stenberg Brothers fetch high prices when they turn up at auctions.

Speaking of money – where and on what should you focus if you decide to collect or invest in posters?  As with any art, you should buy what you like so you can appreciate the design and reap emotional dividends from the piece of art that you see hanging on your wall every day.  Certain poster themes have been steadily appreciating over the last few years – skiing, for example, especially those promoting the most popular resorts in Switzerland and France; cult films, James Bond and early cinema classics have also been on the rise recently.  Other areas to watch are WWII posters,  and mid-century design pieces.



Sadly the art of the poster is now becoming extinct.  Television and the digital revolution are  largely replacing this media with animated and interactive ads.  There are still a few talented artists around but commissions are sparse and most of them work purely out of love for this media and the subject of their design.  Keep an eye on artists like Craig Drake who designs alternative film posters for classic films and Mark Fairhurst who designs great sport posters.  I hope that art schools will get on the bandwagon and, at the very least, start commissioning posters for their events like this one made for 1928 Exhibition at the Royal College of Art.


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