My Favourite Object: GPO Posters

In this month’s edition of My Favourite Object, find out why our collection of poster artwork is so popular with Archivist Anna.

I am biased, having worked extensively with our collection of posters, but I believe the loveliest items in our archive collection are the artworks for posters produced by the General Post Office (GPO). They are catalogued and organised as a series, POST 109: Publicity Artwork and Designs, and comprise over 1200 items, including artwork for greetings telegrams.

Possibly my favourite of the lot is this one.

POST 109/517 Post Office Lines of Communication, poster artwork by Lewitt-Him, c.1950

POST 109/517 Post Office Lines of Communication, poster artwork by Lewitt-Him, c.1950

It was created by the artists collectively known as Lewitt-Him (Jan Le Witt and George Him), sometime around 1950. The artwork is a combination of paint on board, with a photomontage silhouette of a postman carrying a GPO mail sack, depicting a sorting frame. The colours are lovely, and still as vivid today, whilst the design is so effective, clever and simple that it’s a real shame it doesn’t appear to have made it to publication.

The artists, Le Witt and Him, set up the Lewitt-Him design partnership in Warsaw, moving to London in 1937, where they found themselves amongst a growing number of talented artistic émigrés. They produced a number of war time posters, book illustrations and advertisements, including posters for the GPO in the 1940s and 50s, which we are lucky to have in our collections.

We hold eight poster artworks on the Post Office Lines of Communication theme, by artists including Hans Schleger (Zero), John Rowland Barker (Kraber), Frederic Henri Kay Henrion, and Pat Keely. Schleger and Henrion were also émigré artists.

Having done a bit of investigation a few years ago into the background of these Lines of Communication artworks I was disappointed not to uncover any information in our archives regarding their commission or production. This blog reaches a similar conclusion that they were probably never produced.  Incidentally, this is a great blog for vintage poster enthusiasts and has often featured a number of the gorgeous posters we have in our collections at the BPMA.

Before I sign off, here are a couple of other poster/artwork images from our collections I adore. Chosen solely because looking at them makes me happy! I think it has something to do with the eyes – the contented expression of the fish, snugly wrapped up in greaseproof paper, and the elongated and multicoloured eyelashes of the telephonist. I bet she had a lovely voice! She’s actually part of a series of posters, which I wrote about a few years ago, and the others in the series are equally gorgeous and well worth a look.

 POST 110/2606, Pack your parcels carefully, poster by Hans Unger, 1960


POST 110/2606, Pack your parcels carefully, poster by Hans Unger, 1960

POST 109/23, Speak Clearly Always!, poster artwork by Pieter Huveneers, 1958

POST 109/23, Speak Clearly Always!, poster artwork by Pieter Huveneers, 1958

-Anna Flood, Archivist (Cataloging)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s