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P.O. Box 206 Piermont, NY 10968 United States 845.359.4305
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$ 56,000

Mr. Wiseman Shell Posters by H.M. Bateman, complete set of 14 (6 shown)

Documentation Signed
Origin England
Period 1920-1949
Materials Paper, Japanese paper and acid-free linen.
Dimensions
W. 30 in; H. 30 in;
W. 76.2 cm; H. 76.2 cm;
Condition Good. Correctly and perfectly conserved on Japanese paper and acid-free linen. Framed.
Creation Date 1924-1925
Description Set of 14 posters in total with a PDF presentation available upon request.

MR WISEMAN – SHELL OIL COMPANY
The Shell Oil Company, of course, has a wonderful corporate heritage of fine decorative posters, but their best known works date from the early 1930s when Jack Beddington introduced the policy of commissioning new, promising, young artists to design the company’s advertising images. These ‘Mr Wiseman’ posters are important, therefore, because they pre-date the Beddington era at Shell by some 10 years.

The set offered here should also be of great significance to museums, as it is the only complete set of all 14 posters that are known to exist. It is worth pointing out that even the world-famous Shell corporate archive collection, housed at Shell-Mex House in Central London, has only six out of the set of fourteen.

This set was acquired from the family of a deceased garage proprietor, who had acquired the complete set in 1925 when the campaign was launched. Not one of the posters had ever been displayed, and in fact, they had been carefully wrapped and stored in a packing case for almost 70 years when they were ‘discovered’. As a consequence of this, all of the posters in the set are in superb, original condition, with strong vibrant colours. They have of course been correctly and perfectly conserved on Japanese paper and acid-free linen.

This unique set of posters therefore represents an equally unique opportunity for a museum or substantial private collector to acquire possibly the most important Shell Oil Company posters that exist.

Rarity: Unique: The only complete set known.

This highly important set of posters was created by H.M Bateman, one of the most ‘English’ of the English illustrators of the early-mid 20th Century.

The background to the origins of the name and titles of the posters is particularly interesting. In 1923, Shell decided that they should have a symbolic figurehead, for their advertising and publicity, in much the same way that the Michelin Tyre Company, for example, their ‘Monsieur Bibendum’ (The Michelin Man).

Bateman had undertaken several other minor commissions for Shell since 1920 and was chosen to create a series of humorous caricatures, each depicting a slightly irascible, impatient English gentleman. Each poster was captioned with one word, capturing the theme of the image depicted – ‘Accumulation’, ‘Jubilation’, etc. Once the set of fourteen posters was completed and approved to the satisfaction of the directors of the Shell Oil Company, it was decided that a national competition should be held, with members of the public being invited to enter with suggestions for a name for the gentleman depicted in each poster.

In 1924, Shell launched the competition in conjunction with the British newspaper the ‘Daily Express’. The prize or offer to the winning entry was a substantial 500 pounds – over 25,000 pounds in 1993 money!

Not surprisingly, the competition attracted a huge entry and judging took place in March 1925. The panel of judges decided that the winning entry should be ‘Mr Wiseman’ (wise-man), and so the title of the posters came to be known as the Mr Wiseman Series.

The posters are all framed in plain oak frames with perspex. Framed size of posters is approximately 40" x 44". A pdf presentation of all 14 posters is available on request.
Styles / Movements Modernism
Catalog References https://nationalmotormuseum.org.uk/shell-collection/recommendation/
Dealer Reference Number IC 130
Incollect Reference Number 306907
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