While many of us are busy getting organised for Christmas those fortunate enough to be able to afford a winter break will be starting to plan their holiday in the snow and once Christmas is over the skiing season will begin in earnest. Those of us who’s budgets are not quite up to that holiday in Switzerland or Sun Valley might visit some of the local antique shops and fairs and consider collecting skiing posters. Holiday makers often brought these back as momentos of their trip to put on the wall at home as a reminder.
Skiing posters can be had for as little as £50, but they can also fetch five figure sums and if you want to become a collector you need to be able to tell the difference between the ordinary and the special. Obviously, your own taste and preference will play a major part in your choice, but you need to be aware of the four main indicators of value – location, age, artwork and designer.
First of all consider location – the more popular it is the more people will have been there. This will drive up the prices for posters meaning that locations such as St Moritz or Sun Valley will be more sought after than general posters advertising a country such as Switzerland or Italy. Prices for general posters usually start at around £100-£500 while posters for specific resorts will soon be into four figures.
Skiing posters were first produced in the early 1900s when skiing became popular. They would have been in the Art Nouveau style and they are not currently popular with collectors, meaning that you can probably get them at a good price and there is a probability that they price may go up.
The golden age of the skiing poster was during the 1920s and 1930s at the height of the Art Deco period and posters from this period fetch the highest prices. Collectors like this period because of it’s bright and jazzy colours, its sense of modernity and geometric lines. Look out for spectacular artwork of skiers frozen at dramatic angles as they speed down a slope or fly off a jump. You will need deep pockets though as these kind of posters often cost in excess of £800.
If you are looking for something a bit cheaper you might want to consider posters produced by national railways that ferried skiers to the resorts. They often advertised destinations in Switzerland or Austria against the backdrop of mountains and these can be had from as little as £80. You can also have posters from the early 1960s for a similar price. These often feature cheerful skiers in padded ski suits and while they lack the glamour of the Art Deco period they would be an affordable way to start a collection.
Attribution is quite difficult as most of the posters are not signed but, as the skiing industry grew in size and wealth many companies were able to employ leading designers to produce eye-catching designs to attract tourists. The name to look out for is Roger Broders who produced designs for the Lyon Mediteranee railways for a ten year period from 1922. The hallmarks of his design are clean, simple lines, flat areas of vivid colour and an almost geometric stylisation to the background. His skiers are elongated and wear the fashion of the day. You are not likely to find one of his designs for under £1,000 and you could pay as much as £5,000.
Other names to look out for are Carl Moos, Bernard Villemot and Martin Peikert, while American designers were Dwight Shepler, HM Joenethis, Willmarth and John Bowers, who produced the designs for the popular Dartmouth resort in New Hampshire.
You might also want to look for Winter Olympics posters, these would attract collectors of skiing as well as Olympic
memorabilia. The fact that skiing advertising posters were not produced in great numbers keeps the prices high. The glamour, excitement and drama of the sport as well as the imagery typical of the period acquires more and more fans, ensuring that demand outstrips supply.
If you want to start collecting skiing posters you might look at antique and collectors’ fairs as well as trying your local auction house. Specialised antique shops will ensure that you pay high end prices. You should also try your local thrift and charity shops – you probably won’t find a masterpiece but might be lucky to find one of the cheaper posters.