New series of vintage NZ posters released

More vintage posters from famous NZ graphic designers have been released for sale today by New Zealand Fine Prints.

Artistic flair, clever typography, arresting images and print-making skill was all demonstrated by graphic artists such as Marcus King and Leonard Mitchell, early 20th century graphic designers (or commercial artists as they would have been called at the time) designing posters for clients such as the NZ Tourist and Publicity Department. (I have previously written a brief history of how vintage posters in New Zealand fit in to the global story of poster art design and modern day collecting.)

The work of these designers is now recognised as classic imagery of the period by contemporary graphic artists. However with original vintage posters now scarce, expensive and sometimes in poor condition New Zealand Fine Prints has been working hard to compile a collection of re-issued vintage posters from New Zealand. We started with vintage ski-ing posters such as "Winter Sports at Tongariro National Park" and "Coronet Peak, Queenstown, New Zealand", then vintage travel and tourism posters for specific travel destinations such as "Mitre Peak, Milford Sound" or New Zealand generally, for example "NZ - for your next holiday". We are pleased to announce today you can now buy posters that advertise new destinations like Timaru along with a non ski-ing Mount Cook advertisement, the delightful "Mt Cook: For Summer Joys", that accompanies this article. Also check out new vintage botanical posters published by the Reuben Price Gallery such as the New Zealand Tree Fern (almost certainly the work of Marcus King) and the stunning Mountain Daisy by a (so far) unknown designer - let us know if you think you know whose work it is please in the comments below.

NZ Fine Prints' latest vintage series also focuses on transport and vintage advertisements for NZ companies, we loved the aviation poster "Go by Tasman Road" (advertising TEAL - Tasman Empire Airways Limited) re-published in 2011 by Capper Press and now have new shipping posters in stock today such as "The New Zealand Shipping Co Ltd - to SOUTHAMPTON and LONDON via PANAMA" which features a picture of the "Rangitata" (but also mentions the other ships on the line, the Rangitiki and Rangitane). Since the 1970s we have stocked prints of early New Zealand immigrant ships (for instance the majestic Lancashire Witch ship's portrait by marine artist Thomas Dutton) that are popular with genealogists researching their family history and we are sure that people whose families first came out on the NZ Shipping Company's "Royal Mail Line" "modern motor vessels" will enjoy owning a vintage poster featuring the boat their ancestors who emigrated to NZ came out on.

This vintage series also begins the project of re-printing classic advertisements from 20th century NZ that we think are the best examples of well known brands combined with superb graphic design. We think "New Zealand Apples: The Empire's Star Turn" (design based on a painting by Edward Cole) which features a young woman (possibly Zealandia from the Coat of Arms) wrapped in the New Zealand flag is the perfect retro decoration for the kitchen or dining room. Greggs "Club Coffee" poster from Dunedin that is "Packed in Fancy Canisters" is a genuine piece of NZ retro design should be popular with cafe owners too.

We'll see how sales of this latest series of vintage posters goes, hopefully there will continue to be a growing demand for a wider range of vintage New Zealand posters. Then we can begin work on the next vintage series as we have some exciting vintage themes and subjects that are as yet unexplored! Please let us know about your favourite vintage posters too so we can make sure that there aren't any examples of classic NZ design that we have missed in our series of poster re-prints over the past few years.


  1. hi there,
    how do you clear copyright on these posters?

  2. Firstly, yes we always check copyright when applicable before making any print or poster available through NZ Fine Prints. We are not always the publisher of the prints however so the actual process of clearing copyright to reproduce a particular NZ vintage poster can vary depending on who owns the original poster, the era the designer was working in and the entity that commissioned the design. Many NZ vintage posters remain in copyright much longer than normal because if they were designed by government departments Crown copyright of 100 years(!) can sometimes apply in certain circumstances. For instance important work from some of our best designers is still locked up by the modern day "Tourism NZ" not allowing reproduction of 80 year old posters from the old Tourist and Publicity Department in case, and I quote, "They conflict with today's advertising campaigns". This is more than a bit precious and means that some of our graphic design history is prevented from seeing the light of day outside of museums and the rare private collection until 2030. We are always delighted to help get new posters re-published (more for vintage poster aficionados to choose from) so @Anonymous please get in touch with me (Antony) via the New Zealand Fine Prints contact page as I may be able to advise you more specifically with a particular poster or designer.