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White Star Line Titanic Advertisement Assignment

A travel advertisement for excursions on the ill-fated Titanic has been found more than 100 years after it was printed - behind a false wall in a Victorian home.

The stunning poster was found on the back of a painting which was hidden away and only discovered when the homeowners were renovating.

Now the rare find is being sold for £3,000, along with two other vintage promotional posters for the ill-fated liner.

The lithographic print is one of three ads produced in 1911 for the White Star Line.

Read more:Letters from the Titanic unearthed in Royal Mail project

The colourful ad shows promoted trips on the Titanic and sister ship the Olympic - but the posters were pulled the following year, when the Titanic sank in April 1912.

The posters were withdrawn after 1,522 lives were lost in the tragic sinking, hence their rarity.

They have now been uncovered by an unnamed couple who found a landscape painting in a wall cavity of their Victorian home.

When they took it from the frame they found the 23in by 32in poster beneath it.

The print, worth £3,000, will be sold at auction house Henry Aldridge and Son in Devizes, Wiltshire, on April 23.

In the same auction, another vendor is selling a lithographic travel poster produced by Black showing the Olympic with the Titanic in the background.

Measuring 46in by 36in, it's as rare as the Titanic advert but its superior condition puts its value at £12,000.

The third lithograph measures 20in by 24in, and features the Olympic and Titanic by James Scrimgeour Mann.

It's been valued at £4,000.

Andrew Aldridge, of Henry Aldridge and Son, said: "These three lithographic prints form the set of three advertising posters for the Titanic and Olympic created for White Star Line in about 1911.

"They are very rare now because they are obviously over 100 years old but also they were scrapped after the Titanic disaster.'

He added: "A couple in west Wales found the first Montague Black poster by chance. They bought a Victorian house and were doing some renovations and knocked down a false wall.

Inside Titanic II - artist's impressions of the interiors of the new ship:

"Inside the cavity was this painting. The couple liked the frame but not the painting and when they took it out they found this poster that had been stuck to a piece of wooden backing.

"It is frayed at the edges and is missing a section at the bottom for the travel agents but it one of just a handful left.

"I have come across people finding treasures in the attic but not behind a false wall."

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A subject of fascination since its dramatic demise during its maiden voyage, the legacy of White Star Line’s Titanic has continued to ripple throughout the auction world for years. While ephemera related to the Titanic appears with some frequency at auction, posters depicting the doomed ocean liner are relatively rare for several reasons: first, many images of White Star Line’s Olympic-class ocean liners depict Titanic’s sister ship, Olympic, which was launched seven months prior to Titanic; additionally, many posters and images of the Titanic were taken down and destroyed by White Star Line in the wake of her sinking. Even given the disaster, considering the fame of the ship, it’s surprising that so few posters of it survive. We’ve identified fewer than ten distinct posters.

In addition to holding records for several Titanic posters at auction, Swann has two Titanic posters in our upcoming sale of Rare & Important Travel Posters. 

Lot 82: Montague Birrell Black, [White Star Line / Olympic & Titanic], circa 1910. 

This image of White Star Line’s Olympic-class liners, based on a painting by Montague Birrell Black, shows the sister ships Olympic and Titanic passing at sea, with Olympic in the foreground and her sister Titanic visible in the distance. Black’s painting became the basis for posters and postcards for White Star Line, with the posters originally bearing the caption “White Star Line / Olympic 45,000 tons – Titanic 45,000 tons the Largest Steamers in the world,” on a green border surrounding the image. The posters were printed in a relatively small number, intended to hang in White Star Offices, and just a handful have survived. The text-bearing green borders were most likely removed after the catastrophic maiden voyage of the Titanic. This example, however, is framed in an original White Star Line company frame. 

Lot 81: James Scrimgeour Mann, [White Star Line / R.M.S. Olympic & Titanic], circa 1911. 

Ocean liner companies would often promote sister ships, such as the nearly identical Olympic and Titanic, by issuing posters in anticipation of their launch. In this instance, the poster advertises both gigantic ships, but depicts the Olympic, recognizable here by her open upper promenade. By the time the sister Titanic was launched she weighed 46,329 tons, not the advertised 45,000, due to the decision to enclose one of her upper decks. This poster has appeared twice before at auction in Europe, with the exterior mat in Swedish promoting White Star Line’s Swedish ticket agent, suggesting the company used the image in multiple countries by changing the mat to reflect the information in different languages. This exact copy has appeared once before at auction and is the only example with an English mat to ever come to auction.

Sale 2261-Lot 93: White Star Line / Titanic, by an unknown designer, 1912. Sold November 11, 2011 for $72,000. 

We have previously sold two other images advertising Titanic, the broadside above and another image by painter Montague Birrell Black, both of which set auction records. 

Sale 2230-Lot 60: Montague Birrell Black, White Star Line / “Olympic & Titanic,” circa 1910. Sold November 15, 2010 for $36,000. 

For more dynamic travel and ocean liner posters, take a look at our complete catalogue. 

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