20th-Century Art Deco Travel Posters

Value (2015) | $20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction
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GUEST:
My father, when he graduated high school in 1937, got a scholarship to go to Paris to study art. And he collected these posters when he was there in Paris. And then the Germans invaded, and he was forced to flee the country and went to Denmark, where he got put in prison because he had no money. However, the jailer and his wife took pity on him, and he kept his belongings for him, fed him and his friend. He got money wired to him from my grandfather, and they got on board a ship to head back to the United States, and it was torpedoed on the way to the United States and had to limp into New Orleans. And the posters made it back to Oklahoma City and were stored in my grandfather's house until my grandfather died, and then they were moved to the house where my parents lived. And they were stored there until about three months ago, when I found them upon going through the house on my mother's death.

APPRAISER:
And these are only a sampling of all the posters.

GUEST:
Right, right.

APPRAISER:
How many were there altogether?

GUEST:
We counted approximately 65 to 70.

APPRAISER:
65 to 70 posters that had been to debtor's prison, that had been torpedoed,

GUEST:
Correct.

APPRAISER:
Made it back to America, wound up in your grandfather's closet, and wound up in your possession.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And I have chosen from among the 65 or 70, by and large, posters that have to do with ships. Now, I've also included one airplane poster to show that the collection is multifaceted. It's not just ships; it's also airlines and Air France. When I look at these, what I see is a rather interesting collection of Art Deco travel images, really from the golden age of travel. They're mostly from 1938 and 1937. And within the poster world, one of the things that collectors look for are powerful Art Deco images, and that's what we have here. Some of these I have sold before at auction.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Some of them I have never seen before.

GUEST:
That makes two of us.

APPRAISER:
And I am familiar with the artists. They're all signed. Some of the artists are more famous than others. They're not all in great condition.

GUEST:
No, they're not.

APPRAISER:
Something else: two of these posters actually have a swastika on them-- the Bremen poster here, and then by you, the Patria poster. The swastika was the German flag. These posters do predate the Second World War, but people don't like posters that have swastikas on them because of all the negative connotations.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
So should I give you the good news or should I give you the bad news?

GUEST:
Oh, give me the bad news first.

APPRAISER:
Well, the bad news is the posters really, by and large, are in the kind of shape where it will take maybe $10,000 to $15,000 to restore the whole collection. Now, on the other hand, the posters that we have hanging here, these eight posters-- I've tallied them up in my mind, and I estimate conservatively, at auction, these posters alone would be worth somewhere between $18,000 and $22,000.

GUEST:
$18,000 and $22,000! Just these eight?!

APPRAISER:
And for the rest of the collection, again conservatively, once restored...

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
A total of $40,000 to $60,000.

GUEST:
Wow! That's amazing. $40,000 to $60,000. It's a good thing I don't faint.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Swann Auction Galleries
New York, NY
Update (2015)
$20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction
Appraised value (2003)
$18,000 Auction$22,000 Auction
Event
Oklahoma City, OK (August 09, 2003)
Form
Poster
Material
Paper

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