One of the great commercial marriages of the late nineteenth century was the development of the bicycle alongside the development of the multi color poster. While both inventions had international appeal, their foundations were provided in France. Artist Jules Chéret developed a process of overlapping color fields to create vibrant, multi-tonal works that jumped off the paper to capture a viewers gaze. At the turn of the century, Parisian streets were filled with posters, advertising theatre, books, new products, and anything imaginable. Chéret and other poster designers were not merely advertisers, however, they were artists. Though advertising products or events, posters were always viewed by Parisians as artwork in their own right. Because of this, most printers would produce several extra prints of each poster design to save for themselves or sell to poster collectors. For the most part, these are the posters that survive and are collected today.
Early posters were made through a process of drawing an image into stone with a grease pen. After which, the stone is placed in an acid bath that erodes away a thin layer of the stone which has not been penned. The stone is then attached to a printing press with ink applied to the raised portion and the poster is produced. Printers would make a single run of each design and then sand the stone down so it could be used for the next project. Because of this, there was never another more than a single run of any individual poster. As the poster’s stone would be destroyed, it was impossible reproduce the exact poster, and they are considered “original”. No one knows how many posters would be made in each run. Presumably companies would order different quantities based on their needs. The posters were made to be temporary installations. They were glued to a wall for no more than 8 weeks, then covered up by a new design. There was no need to use heavy quality paper because they didn’t need to last. There is no way to know how many of any given poster design survive today, but given their ephemeral nature, all original posters are extremely rare.
At the same time that the color poster was booming, so too was the bicycle. A new wave of middle class consumers were growing in numbers; with free time and discretionary money. Women were gaining more freedom and rights. The bicycle became the machine for this era. Many new bicycle companies were founded, and poster artists proclaimed their virtues across the cities.
Budget Bicycle Center is a proud collector of original vintage bicycle posters
. Much of the collection is on display in our 4 locations, accompanied by information on the poster, its artist, and the brand it advertises. The collection is too large to display in its entirety in the store, but images of each poster can be accessed through the shop website
. any inquiries or comments regarding the collection can be answered by the collections manager
. We are always excited to show off the collection and discuss its history. The collection is continually growing, and the posters on display do rotate from time to time. Stay tuned to find out about new additions to the collection, and for more information about each poster and its place in cycling and art history.