Railway Posters is a short,
artistic history of the railroad
Travel by train in the golden era meant exotic destinations and the carefree
luxury of the sleeping car, the
bar car and the dining car.
Now, a new co;ee-table book,
Railway Posters (Antique Collectors’ Club, 2011), celebrates
that era with a collection of
classics from the late 1800s to
the 1960s, a time when railroads did their advertising
with great graphic flair.
If you’ve seen some of the old champagne, bicycle
and theater posters done by the likes of Mucha,
Chéret and Cassandre in art nouveau and art deco
styles, you get the idea. Railroads employed well-known poster artists in hopes of riding their coattails
to public familiarity. By midcentury, however, they
went well beyond those styles to a sleek, modern flair.
The range and evolution of the art is fascinating,
from an early emphasis on destinations (the south of
France) and sites along the rail route (the eastern seaboard of England) to a focus on the amenities (sleeper
cars and fine dining) and finally to speed (San Francisco to Chicago in 39 3/4 hours).
Railway Posters dabbles in the history and the
golden age of rail travel, but its greatest delights are
the pages and pages of art work that re-create the
romance that still exists today for railroad fans everywhere. antiquecollectorsclub.com. —Greg G. Weber
Top left: 1936, Southern Pacific company studio.
Left: 1928, Adolphe Mouron Cassandre for London,
Midland and Scottish Railways.
The grand old golden days may be gone, but modern train travel is alive and well, and that’s worth celebrating. Amtrak presents the 5th Annual National Train Day, landing this year on May 12, and with it comes special exhibits and events in New York, Phila- delphia, Chicago and Los Angeles. Check out the event website for more information and the schedule of events. nationaltrainday.com