British Airways Book
British Aviation Posters comprises a fascinating collection of vintage advertisements during the golden era of aviation history
(Image credit: press)

The 'art of flight' is being re-examined in a new book dedicated to vintage aviation posters, publicity material and graphic design. With artworks from the likes of Edward Bawden, John Piper and Rex Whistler, British Aviation Posters charts air industry history, from the fledgling days of passenger flights to the launch of the Boeing 747 jumbo in the 1970s (accompanied by the strapline 'more sitting room in the sky').

The book draws on the extensive British Airways Heritage collection of advertising material. Penned by Scott Anthony and Oliver Green, it not only shows the changing trends of air travel but takes readers on a journey through British history, past the coronation and the 1948 London Olympic Games. Published by Lund Humphries, the book also shows how art and design were applied to promote aviation in the UK and beyond.

British Airways Book

(Image credit: Montague B. Black)

'London 2026 A.D. - This is all in the air', by Montague B. Black. 1926
A London Undergrond poster envisages London air transport in the year 2026, with airports atop buildings and a London-to-Sydney service, yet still the good 'solid comfort of the Underground'

British Airways Book

(Image credit: press)

Left: 'Go there by Air Taxi', by an unkown designer, c. 1930
Imperial Airways - as British Airways was once known - offered air-taxi services using small light aircraft within Britain and Europe

Right: 'Comfort in the air', by Tom Purvis, c. 1931
Dining upon the Silver Wing service was akin to eating in a railway restaurant car - according to Imperial Airways. The brand always eschewed speed in favour of luxury

British Airways Book

(Image credit: Theyre Lee-Elliott)

Left: 'Le Touquet One Flying Hour', by Theyre Lee-Elliott, c. 1935
Le Touquet in northern France became a fashionable weekend seaside break

Right: 'BEA Olympic Games, London', by Abram Games, 1948
The British national airlines used their posters to try and connect the internationalist spirit of the Olympic Games with the development of mass transport systems and tourism

British Airways Book

(Image credit: M.H. Armengol)

Left: 'Fly BEA to the Sun', by M.H. Armengol, c. 1950
By the late 1950s, poster design became brighter and bolder. In BEA's case, the opening up of the south Mediterranean encouraged BEA poster designers to adopt palettes that radiated red, orange and yellow

Right: 'Coronation Year - Come to Britain in 1953', by an unknown designer, c. 1953
A triumphant poster to mark a triumphant year for Britain

British Airways Book

(Image credit: Dick Negus and Philip Sharland)

Left: 'Fly by BOAC', by Dick Negus and Philip Sharland, 1954
The quality of the poster design, from the later 1940s to the early 1960s, eschewed the austerity of the era

Right: 'Australia - Fly There by BOAC and QANTAS', by Hayes, c. 1956
Australia was pitched as the of sun and sea, thanks to the working relationship between Imperial Airways and QANTAS

British Airways Book

(Image credit: André Amstutz)

Left: 'Fly BEA to the Snow', by André Amstutz, 1958
Graduate Mary de Saulles conceived the red square that would become BEA's trademark

Right: 'Africa - Fly there by BOAC', by Eric Pulford, c. 1959
BOAC embraces the new reality of the Commonwealth being a multicultural association of independent states

British Airways Book

(Image credit: press)

Left: 'South America, fly there by BOAC', by an unknown designer, 1959
A colourful, carnivalesque promotion of BOAC's South American service, restored in 1958 after a four year gap caused by a shortage of aircraft following the Comet disasters

Right: 'Scotland, Fly BOAC', by an unknown designer, c. 1959
Scotland gets a rare look-in in the BOAC posters aimed at the North American market that usually flaunted London attractions

Lauren Ho is the former travel editor at Wallpaper*. Now a contributing editor, she roams the globe, writing extensively about luxury travel, architecture and design for both the magazine and the website, alongside various other titles. She is also the European Academy Chair for the World's 50 Best Hotels.