Opening Bids: Exceptional Lots

  • A circa 1919 advertisement for a shop in Vienna
  • Photo by Aydin Arjomand / Wally’s Auctions
    Photo by Aydin Arjomand / Wally’s Auctions
  • Photo by Tim Scott/Courtesy of RM Auctions
    Steve McQueen's 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Photo by Tim Scott/Courtesy of RM Auctions
  • Photo by Pawel Litwinski/bonhams
    Pat Boone's 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe Photo by Pawel Litwinski/bonhams
  • Photo by Leslie Bird
    Photo by Leslie Bird
  • Photo by Christie’s Images LTD.
    Photo by Christie’s Images LTD.
  • Photo by Aydin Arjomand / Wally’s Auctions
  • Photo by Tim Scott/Courtesy of RM Auctions
  • Photo by Pawel Litwinski/bonhams
  • Photo by Leslie Bird
  • Photo by Christie’s Images LTD.
<< Back to Collection, August 2014

    What a Racket

    Tennis advertising has its own brand of topspin, and an assortment of 70 posters promoting the sport traces it for more than a century. The vintage images, from a private Australian collection, are believed to form the largest such grouping ever to come to auction and they date to the late 1890s, when the game was still in its early days. “The styles really changed,” says Nicholas Lowry, Swann’s president. “In the earliest posters we see some improbable outfits, including large white dresses and straw hats. We even see an image of a man smoking a cigarette in an ad for a sporting-goods store.”

    A circa 1919 advertisement for a shop in Vienna corresponds to an era when the sport was becoming more mainstream, and the equipment and apparel more streamlined. The singular images also tout tournaments, equipment brands, and even hotels with tennis courts. Lowry says, “What makes collecting tennis posters difficult is that they’re so hard to find. If you love tennis, this is heart-palpitating stuff.” —Karen Cakebread
    Estimate: $400–$20,000/poster. Sale: Vintage Posters, August 6, Swann Auction Galleries; www.swanngalleries.com

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