'What a Carry On' as series of posters shows plenty of appetite for comedy franchise

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Sunday, June 23, 2024

'What a Carry On' as series of posters shows plenty of appetite for comedy franchise
Carry On Spying British Quad poster – sold for £1,690.

WOKING.- The Carry On brand of slapstick comedy with groanworthy puns may seem dated these days, but the as Ewbank’s Vintage Posters auction on August 4 showed, a huge appetite remains for posters associated with the franchise.

More than 40 appeared here, with many going well over estimate to provide a premium-inclusive total of more than £12,600 for this section of the sale.

The fact that Tom Chantrell, arguably the most celebrated of 20th century British film poster artists, designed the series would have helped.

Top prices came for some of the most iconic films in the Carry On stable, as long as the accompanying artwork was lively, colourful and included at least one of the best-loved actors among the cast.

Leading the pack was a British Quad poster for the 1963 caper Carry On Cabbie, the Chantrell illustration depicting a yellow Glamcab carrying Kenneth Connor, Hattie Jacques, Charles Hawtrey and Esma Cannon being pushed by a collection of leggy female cab drivers, with Sid James thumbing a lift and Amanda Barrie looking on. In generally excellent condition, it trounced its £700-1,000 estimate to take a premium-inclusive £2,210.

Carry On Spying (1964) also enjoyed a Chantrell design, dominated by a pistol-toting, Fez-wearing Kenneth Williams – the franchise’s totem – surrounded by a scantily clad Barbara Windsor, Bernard Cribbins and Charles Hawtrey. This was comedy kitsch at its finest and the £500-800 estimate vanished in a final price of £1,690.

Other leading prices included £1,105 for a colourful British Quad for Carry On Cowboy (1966), featuring a red-shirted Sid James firing a revolver, clipping Hawtrey’s feather headdress, with a shocked Williams and chorus girl Angela Douglas watching.

Carry on Jack (1963), set on the deck of a British man-of-war during the Napoleonic Wars, proved comedy gold at the hands of Williams, Cribbins and Juliet Mills, and the battle scene that graced the poster helped it to £975 here.

A 27 x 40 inch one-sheet Chantrell design for Carry On Cabby (1963) took £1,040.

Several designs pitched at relatively low sums, sometimes less than £100, attracted multiple-estimate bids. One such was a British Quad for Carry On At Your Convenience (1971), whose selling price of £234 came against an estimate of £70-100. A British Quad for the 1974 highwayman romp Carry on Dick, pitched at £50-80, took £208.

“It’s an irony that while the Carry On films often relied on saucy postcard humour, they are viewed as coming from a simpler, more innocent age, these days, and that creates a great deal of nostalgia,” says Ewbank’s partner Alastair McCrea, who will offer more posters from the franchise in an auction in October.

“With all the other qualities the designs share, this is a section of the vintage poster market that has been holding up very well indeed.”

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