Book of the Week: London Transport Posters: A Century of Art and Design, edited by David Bownes and Oliver Green

The sign celebrating 150 years of London Underground, near Farringdon station

The sign, in Farringdon station, celebrating 150 years of London Underground

The London Underground celebrates its 150th birthday this year. Here in the Lund Humphries office in Clerkenwell, close to historic Farringdon station and the route of the world’s first underground train journey in January 1863, we’re getting quite excited.  We’re not just interested in public transport: we’re also keen on all the visual material commissioned by the Underground over its long history, initially under the visionary leadership of Frank Pick.

In 1908 Frank Pick was given responsibility for publicity at what was then the Underground Electric Railways of London Ltd, and commissioned his first Underground posters that year. London Transport Posters: A Century of Art and Design, originally published in 2008 to celebrate a hundred years of fabulous poster design, and now available in paperback, charts that fascinating history, from John Hassall’s No Need to Ask a P’liceman (the very first Underground poster) to Paul Catherall‘s Primrose Hill of 2007.

There is growing commercial interest in the Underground’s posters: Christie’s auction ‘Posters with a Purpose: The London Transport Museum Sale’ in October 2012 realised a total of £1,026,750 / $1,653,068, with individual posters selling for thousands of pounds.

If that’s beyond your means, then visit Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Designs, which opens at London Transport Museum on 15 February 2013 and will showcase 150 of the best poster designs from the Underground’s long and impressive design history.

Lucy Myers, Managing Director

London Transport Posters

London Transport Posters: A Century of Art and Design, edited by David Bownes and Oliver Green. 2011.  Paperback.  240 pages. 240 colour and 30 b&w illustrations. £19.99 / $40