In recent years, motorsports memorabilia has been a popular mainstay of international auction houses. Everything from a Formula One water jug, as seen on the podium table at the 1998 Japanese Grand Prix, to scale models and rare first edition books, go for big prices.
Vintage racing posters are becoming increasingly sought after. Often wonderfully evocative of the sport’s golden years, the best ones stand alone as works of art.
Examples from the 1950s and 1960s tend to be the most popular but, as Jacques Vaucher of the specialist online store and auction site L’Art et L’Automobile (arteauto.com) points out, that’s as much to do with questions of availability as anything else.
‘The 1920's and 1930's posters have always been popular due to their Art Deco designs, but now are becoming very scarce and very pricey when you find them, so the market is limited,’ Vaucher explains. ‘This resurgence in interest is possibly due to their very figurative artwork and beautiful typography, and it’s also an age that represents the beginning of the automobile.’
Not that posters from the post-war years are getting any easier to find, or are any less expensive.
Artists who specialised in poster work, like the French illustrators Géo Ham and Michel Beligond, the Germans Walter Gotschke and Hans Liska and the British illustrator Michael Turner (who’s still going strong) are all in demand for their decorative colours and graphics, many echoing the classic attention-grabbing Madison Avenue advertising styles of their times.
Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s those old glamourpusses Le Mans and Monaco that attract most buyers, though fans of 1960s and 1970s graphics have been building up a more niche market, including more obscure endurance and rally championship posters.
As ever, the best advice for any budding collectors out there is to go for what you like, stick to what you can afford and go for the originals every time…