Vintage poster collection of the late John Rogers from Gallery 29 on sale online

Fine art: Lots range from €50-€2,000 in sale of old travel posters

Posters depicting vintage travel, sport, film and art are one of the major collecting specialities. The use of fine art in commercial printing began in the 19th century with the advent of high-speed lithography, though the market for collecting posters was not properly established until the 1980s.

In June 2016, a bidding frenzy at a Christie’s Early 20th Century Poster from the Dr Hans Sachs Collection — which was the last sale devoted entirely to the medium — saw a 1918 print of an Emil Cardinaux poster advertising the Davos ski resort sell for double its higher estimate when it achieved £21,500. In the same year, a 1934 poster by Alex Walter Diggelmann depicting Gstaad achieved £62,000.

The record for a film poster is $690,000 paid for the international version (minus the German writing) of the Metropolis poster, which was rumoured to be purchased by actor Leonardo DiCaprio in 2005.

Besides nostalgia, the print method, rarity and the artist/creator are important factors in determining the value of a poster. The International Vintage Poster Dealers Association (IVPDA) has some good information on its website — especially tips about framing. The association advises never dry-mounting a poster as it destroys its value.


Currently open is an online sale of the poster collection of the late John Rogers of Gallery 29 on Molesworth Street, who was known for having a “peculiar sales technique”, as Joe Christie recalled in his eulogy at John’s funeral.

“I remember going in and choosing a poster I wished to buy. John’s mouth turned down, his eyebrows shot up. “No, no, that is not for sale. I like that one myself. Choose another one for yourself.”

With a master’s degree in art history from Boston, Rogers worked in Christie’s, where he learned the fine art trade having undertaken research for Desmond FitzGerald, the Knight of Glin, who was the auction house’s representative in Ireland.

He launched Gallery 29 in 2004 after what was described as “an epiphany”, when he bought his first vintage poster and became aware of the scale of interest and possibility in the field of vintage-poster collecting.

His collection, perhaps a mirror of his obsession, has some fascinating lots in the online sale that will end on Wednesday, July 27th.

For travel poster collectors, there are numerous lots to choose from. One of the top lots is Julius Olsson (1864-1942), Dunluce Castle of Northern Ireland. The lithograph from the 1930s depicts the moonlit keep by the British maritime artist, who, as a keen yachtsman, was said to know “his way from the Scillies to the Isle of Wight as most men know their way to the nearest railway station” (€1,200-€1,600).

The size of the suitcase taking centre stage in the Fly Aer Lingus poster is a clear indication of its age, in a world where we are encouraged to travel light (€100-€150). And you might question Guus Melai’s depiction of an Irish fisherman wearing what look like ballet pumps in the Ireland Invite’s You poster from the 1950s. Melai was one of a number of Dutch artists attracted to Ireland by advertising work for Aer Lingus and Bord Fáilte.,

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property, fine arts, antiques and collectables