Wadsworth London Underground poster beats estimate by 210.4% at Christie's

Edward Wadsworth's Imperial War Museum poster has taken the top prize at an auction of original London Underground posters.

The 1936 work, one of just five he produced for the Underground, sold for £37,250 ($59,973), 210.4% above its £12,000 high estimate at Christie's auction in the capital on October 4.

Imperial War Museum London Underground poster
Wadsworth’s poster made £37,250

Its strong showing is a testament to the artist's excellent reputation, the depiction of a ship typical of Wadsworth's oeuvre.

The 300 posters, dating from 1913 to 1955, came directly from the London Transport Museum archives and achieved superb results, realising in excess of £1m ($1.6m).

Each of the posters is a duplicate copy of one employed at London Underground stations.

Another leading example was a 1921 Boat Race work by prolific London Underground artist Charles Paine.

Depicting the annual event on the River Thames between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, it sold for £30,000 ($48,300) against a meagre £3,000 estimate.

A work by the artistic duo of Cyril Power and Sybil Andrews, better known as Andrew Power, produced the third top lot.

Their 1933 Wimbledon work was one of several efforts of theirs up for grabs. It sold for £25,000 ($40,250) against a £8,000 estimate.

The Boat Race remains a British institution
The Boat Race remains a British institution

"The fact that [travel posters] were designed to be disposable… means survivors are relatively rare and the best examples can command impressive sums," writes Simon de Burton in the Financial Times.

Posters for "The Tube" were first produced in 1908, when the six independent companies operating lines in London began promoting themselves as The Underground and hired leading artists to advertise their services and popular destinations.

Man Ray's Keeps London Going poster for the Underground from 1938 remains the world's most valuable transport poster ever auctioned. An original sold for £50,400 ($81,550) at Christie's in 2007.

View our selection of collectible posters for sale here.

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