The Art of Vintage Travel Posters
Once summoning travelers from near and far, vintage travel posters have come to serve as delightful reminders of happy vacations, honeymoons, and historic periods in time.
Travel posters began in the early 20th century as a form of powerful advertising. With their brilliant colors and ability to radiate a sense of adventure and exploration, they enticed people to book trips by train, plane, and boat with travel agents and visitors bureaux.
The most popular travel posters advertised rail and airline travel. For rail travel, most of the posters were commissioned by the rail lines themselves. They were commissioned in a fairly standard format because the typical way of displaying them was inside rail stations. There would be premade train posters that hung on the wall, and the local trainmaster would switch out the poster as new ones came in. So the travel posters would be in the same format and would wonderfully represent city and resort destinations, as well as weekend getaways.
A number of very famous artists worked on travel posters in the early era, and many people collect for the artist. They’re also collectible because of their beautiful graphics – they show charming scenes and beautiful colors – and because of their destinations. They might symbolize an important time in someone’s life, be it a honeymoon, or a place they studied, or a place the family frequently visited.
If we look at the continuum of travel posters, historically from 1900 through 1940, you’ll see different styles as well. When Art Deco was popular from 1925 to 1939, the movement influenced most travel posters of the time. In the early 1900s, they were more Art Nouveau-influenced.
With the advent of the airplane, as commercial aviation became a factor, which was in the 1920s and onwards, the airline companies were doing their best to promote the advantages of air travel. They stressed the harder to reach destinations that weren’t readily accessible by railway and the comfort factor of the planes. European companies promoted themselves at airports and through travel agents using the poster medium.
Of course, from 1900 to about 1950, TVs and computers didn’t exist, so the poster medium was a very strong and significant way of advertising.