As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, November, 2004,
“The Lake-Along the North Shore Line" courtesy: Posters
Plus Gallery, 200 S. Michigan Av, Chicago, IL
When you think of train posters
chances are you expect to see trains depicted, right ? You
couldn’t be more wrong.
It was the destinations that were
colorfully advertised. Trains were mentioned in bold print as
the way to get to those places.
In the exhibit opening October 1 , at
the Posters Plus Gallery in Chicago, titled “Chicago Transit
Posters of the 1920s-Revisited” there is nary a train in sight.
What you’ll see are colorful scenes of a Wisconsin Resort,
Chicago Beach and Evanston lighthouse, among the subjects. All
of these reachable via the Chicago North Shore Line Railroad and
the Chicago Elevated (Rapid Transit) lines, who commissioned the
posters in the 1920s.
Considering that these posters were
displayed on train platforms and inside the stations along their
route, it is amazing that so many have survived. However, they
were also handed out to school children in Washington, D.C. and
along the east coast.
Still affordable, travel posters are
being newly appreciated by collectors as graphic art to be
displayed in their homes as important art.
Train posters had their beginning in
Europe in the late 19th century . But it was the
French who saw them as a new form of advertising to attract the
growing interest in travel. By the early 20th century, before
World War 1 the French state railways (Chemins de Fer)
commissioned famed artists such as Mucha, Jules Cheret and
others. Today these are among the most expensive train posters
in the world. Yet, they depicted the destinations rather than
the trains. This changed during the Art Deco period of the
At that time A.M. Cassandre, an
innovative designer was commissioned to do train posters that
were in keeping with the streamlined look of the trains. The
trains were now the main subject of the posters.
Another important train poster artist of
the period was Roger Broders. At the same time British Railways
began producing train posters.
“Evanston Lighthouse By the Elevated Lines" courtesy:
Posters Plus Gallery, 200 S. Michigan Av, Chicago, IL
Few showed trains, concentrating on
beach resorts and landscapes.
In America train posters were produced
for the new Haven railroad, The New York central, Northern
Pacific and Chicago North Shore Line Railroad and the Chicago
Elevated (Rapid Transit) lines.. The Chicago posters got their
idea from the London Underground poster series.
Today, eight of the Chicago posters are
in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in
CLUES: David Gartler, collector and
owner of the Posters Plus Gallery, discovered a cache of Chicago
train posters in 1975 in a New York warehouse. They joined the
Gallerie’s growing vintage poster collections. Those in need
of restoration were restored by gallery conservators.
They have very little lettering,
focusing on the subjects. Examples are the Evanston, Illinois
lighthouse; Wisconsin resorted and Chicago’s Michigan Avenue at
A total of 20 artists created the
posters. Many, such as Leslie Ragon, and Arther Johnsen, went on
to become noted graphic artists on other subjects. The only
poster that actually depicted the “L” itself, was captioned
“Avoid street congestion” by artist Arther A. Johnsen.
The Art Directors Club of New York
awarded medals for seven consecutive years, ending in 1928, to
Chicago transit poster artists and their posters. It was the end
of the line during the Depression years for Chicago transit
Posters Plus, celebrating the gallery’s
35th birthday has published 11 Chicago Transit Posters from the
1920s. Prices range from $150 to $250 each. “This gives
beginning collectors an opportunity to own affordable examples
of train history,” Gartler said.
If you have any questions, you can Email us at
The Antique Shoppe
"Florida's Best Newspaper for Antiques
PO Box 2175, Keystone Heights, FL 32656-2175
Phone: (352)475-1679 Fax: (352)475-5326
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