Classic Harrogate poster up for auction in New York

Classic posters from Britain's golden age of steam travel - including one of Harrogate - will be auctioned in New York this month.

Featuring crowds in front of the Royal Baths, the Harrogate poster is joined by examples showing idealized London and country scenes, Henry VIII, steam trains and cruise liners.

The Harrogate poster will be auctioned in New York this month

The Harrogate poster will be auctioned in New York this month

They include rare surviving work by commercial artists of the time, including the man who set the whole trend going when commissioned to produce promotional material for the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL) – precursor to London Underground – in 1930.

They are among the highlights of the Rare & Important Travel Posters sale at Swann Auction Galleries.

In 1930, Frank Pick – later the mastermind behind the development of the London Transport brand – was managing director of the UERL when he commissioned the award-winning French artist and designer Jean Dupas to produce a series of posters for his network.

Dupas, who had won the prix de Rome in 1910, had also conceived what was already acknowledged as one of the masterpieces of print advertising when he produced the catalogue for the fur company Max in 1927. And he went on to decorate the grand salon of the Normandie, the greatest French cruise liner of the golden age of steam travel, in 1935.

For the Underground project he put his considerable talents to work by turning familiar London landmarks into scenes of Elysian bliss, populated by svelte semi-divine figures.

These compositions were the precursors to the idealised – if rather less Olympian – series of images that were to dominate advertising for travel by road, rail and ship in the decades to come, whether under commission for the various regional railway companies, tourist boards, shipping lines or London Transport itself.

Such vision and draughtsmanship from the earliest days of this movement – and on the orders of the great Frank Pick himself – are understandably a collector’s dream.

With titles like Where is this Bower Beside the Silver Thames? and Thence to Hyde Park, Where Much Good Company, and Many Fine Ladies, they date to 1930 and are expected to sell for as much as $15,000 to $20,000 each.

Other Dupas views celebrate Richmond, Camden Town, and bus and coach travel, with each of these pitched at $4000-6000 apiece.

Other highlights include Forging Ahead, a c.1955 British Railways poster by the much sought-after artist Terence Cuneo ($3000-4000) and a 1923 promotional poster for the Science Museum ($700-1000) by Edward McKnight Kauffer, who went on to become the doyen of London Transport poster design.

Online bidding is available. Those interested can register via the auctioneer’s website 24 hours before the sale.