1938 George Lawler Pan Am Posters

Value (2008) | $4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction

GUEST:
My dad was a lawyer in Iola, Kansas, and they hung in his garage. And I always like them. And when he was moving to a new office, I asked if I could have them. He said I could have them. And I found out that my grandfather was stationed in World War II in Miami, Florida, and he was a colonel in the air force. And a friend of his gave them as a present to my grandfather.

APPRAISER:
And what were you told that they were? What do you think they are?

GUEST:
I was told they were watercolors. And I think they're advertising for Pan American Airlines.

APPRAISER:
They're not watercolors. They are reproductions of watercolors that were used on posters to advertise Pan Am Airways. Each one of them is signed and dated-- in the stone, not by hand. The artist was a gentleman by the name of George Lawler,

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
who did a lot of commercial work for Pan Am during the 1930s. The great thing is, not all of his images are dated. These are both dated '38. So we know that they were done in 1938...

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
...which was very early in the history of Pan Am. Now, these were used as posters to advertise travel to exotic places.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
The one closest to me is advertising travel to Hong Kong. And the trip took five days.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
So it took them five days to Hong Kong, and the image closer to you advertises travel to Peru in the Andes Mountains.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
You'll notice on that plane, not only does it say "PAA," it also says "Grace," which was operating with Pan Am in South America. Now, I know all of this because I've seen these images before with text. So what you have are posters that are so beautiful in their image that somebody at some time saw fit to cut off the words

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
and put the pictures in frames like watercolors.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Now as a viewer of the Antiques Roadshow, you may have heard that sometimes if you alter the condition of something...

GUEST:
Loses a lot of value.

APPRAISER:
It loses a lot of value.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
So I'm going to tell you what they would have been worth with the text still on them.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
They have come up for auction several times over the past couple of years and they generally each sell in the $4,000 to $6,000 range.

GUEST:
With the print?

APPRAISER:
With the print. So now without the print you might be thinking, oh, no... Here's the thing, though. Pan Am collectibles are so popular, and the images are so unusual, that even with the text cut off, I feel each on of these is worth $2,000 to $3,000.

GUEST:
Yeah? Without...? Wow!

APPRAISER:
So it's not at all a terrible thing. It could have been better, but it's hardly a bad story.

GUEST:
I love to look at them.

APPRAISER:
They're very attractive, and they do, they do look like paintings. So they work by themselves without the text.

GUEST:
Wow, that's great. Thank you.

APPRAISER:
You're welcome. It's nice to see them.

GUEST:
Thank you. It's exciting.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Swann Auction Galleries
New York, New York
Appraised value (2008)
$4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
Event
Wichita, KS (July 12, 2008)
Period
20th Century
Material
Paper

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