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100 RARE & IMPORTANT AMERICAN POSTERS

by Swann Auction Galleries

Platinum House

113 lots with images

October 14, 2004

104 East 25th Street

New York, NY, 10010 USA

Phone: 212.254.4710

Fax: 212 979 1017

Email: swann@swanngalleries.com

ANONYMOUS OLIVER TWIST.

Lot 1: ANONYMOUS OLIVER TWIST.

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Description: 80x39 inches. Calhoun Print Co., Hartford, Connecticut.Condition B+: creases in image; wooden dowels affixed to top and bottom margins. Three sheets.A colored woodblock poster advertising a theatrical production of Charles Dickens's famous novel, featuring three vignettes: "Oliver escapes from the sweep," "Oliver plucks up a spirit," and "Oliver asks for more." "The first American posters were woodcuts, often very elaborate, and the art of printing from large wooden color blocks was perfected to the exclusion of any thoughts as to the design involved" (Price p. 149). Calhoun, in operation in the 1870s and 1880s, created a huge number of stock posters for theatrical productions. Using wood blocks made from boxwood trees, they needed three separate blocks for each color (one block per sheet). The original blocks survived through the 1970s, when they were used to reprint the posters. The blocks were destroyed in a fire late in that decade. This is one of the later printings.

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OLIVER TWIST / FAGIN.

Lot 2: OLIVER TWIST / FAGIN.

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Description: 80x39 1/4 inches. Calhoun Print Co., Hartford, Connecticut.Condition B+: creases and restoration in image; wooden dowels affixed to top and bottom margins. Three sheets.A woodblock theatrical poster featuring a trembling Fagin sitting in a dark jail cell on his "last night alive"; he is surrounded by two colorful vignettes of his involvement in Oliver's life. Another in this series of early American posters, which was reprinted from the original wooden blocks.

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OLIVER TWIST / BILL SIKES.

Lot 3: OLIVER TWIST / BILL SIKES.

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Description: 79 1/2x38 1/2 inches. Calhoun Print Co., Hartford, Connecticut.B+: repaired tears at edges; wooden dowels affixed to top and bottom margins. Three sheets.A dramatic, and rather scary image of Bill Sykes sitting on a red stool, a gnarled walking stick in one hand and his dog at his feet. Another in this series of early American posters, which was reprinted from the original wood blocks.

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OLIVER TWIST / NANCY SIKES.

Lot 4: OLIVER TWIST / NANCY SIKES.

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Description: 80x39 inches. Calhoun Print Co, Hartford, Connecticut.Condition B+: repaired tears along vertical folds; bubbling in image; wooden dowels affixed to top and bottom margin. Three sheets.Woodblock print of Nancy Sikes standing in front of a backdrop of old London. Another in this series of early American posters, which was reprinted from the original wood blocks.

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EDWARD PENFIELD (1866-1925) HARPER'S APRIL. 1893.

Lot 5: EDWARD PENFIELD (1866-1925) HARPER'S APRIL. 1893.

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Description: 18 5/8x12 7/8 inches.Condition A-: minor abrasions and creases in image."In April 1893 something new was spotted in the shops of American news vendors and booksellers. Amid the handbills and letterpress notices of topical interest, there was a small poster... this was unprecedented... The poster was bold in its simplicity: the singular, isolated figure of the man; the magazine; a mere suggestion of the weather proverbially associated with the month; and bold lettering carefully integrated into the design." (Kiehl p. 11). Penfield himself writes that this poster "was done long before I ever heard of Lautrec or Steinlen as poster designers... I think the American Poster has opened a new school whose aim is simplicity and good composition." (ibid). Almost universally acclaimed as Penfield's inaugural Harper's image, this was, in fact, Penfield's second poster for the magazine, the first in March, 1893 (see Margolin p. 32 and DFP I 320). The earlier image is not signed. Not in Kiehl, DFP I 321.

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