Piece of the Week Poster Wild Julie Carlson, Artfact.com 08.09.06,
12:01 AM ET
Nostalgia is the name of the game when it comes to vintage posters, especially the fabulous travel posters of the '30s, '40s and '50s. Now extremely collectible and usually quite affordable, these images remind us of a simpler time when air travel was a luxury and not a necessity.
At Swann Galleries in New York on Aug. 2, unique travel posters were sold along with an impressive array of vintage posters of all types. The big money went to images created by top graphic artists of the time, such as A.M. Cassandre and T. Steinlen. This poster by Edward McKnight Kauffer achieved a respectable price at Swann, selling for $4,400 (excluding buyer's premium), which reflects the strength of the growing mid-range market.
The artist was a well-known European designer hired in the 1940s to perk up the image of American Airlines by adding modern flair to its ad campaign. The appeal to today's collector is certainly in its sleek design and retro feeling, not to mention that the poster is also a newly discovered image by this innovative designer.
The vintage poster market is on a steady climb upward, with no bumps in the foreseeable future. While there have been some headline-grabbing auction sales recently (remember Christie's 2005 sale of Toulouse-Lautrec's "Moulin Rouge" poster for $251,200?), most vintage posters are still quite attainable. Look for original designs and well-known makers, and always check the condition before buying. Also, since vintage posters were usually printed in multiples, look for comparable sales from past auctions in the Artfact.com database.