SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA, MAY 13, 2020 – Turner Auctions + Appraisals is very pleased to present the Hilman Walker Collection, showcasing an array of French posters from World War I and American posters from World Wars I and II. The sale also offers other war-era lithographs by Lucien-Hector Jonas; a large replica of USS Mahan (DLG-11) and related items; and tableware, posters and memorabilia from the United States Lines. Several lots from other collectors include WWI photographs and a WWII roadside billboard.
Hilman Walker is a longtime resident of Northern California, where he was born, raised and educated. Admitted to the California bar in 1976, he had a long and successful career in various management positions at a Fortune 100 company in the San Francisco Bay Area before retiring and moving to the Carmel area.
Lot 16, Georges Dorival, Vintage World War I Poster. "Foyer means home in France" 1918
Hilman Walker's collections in this sale focus on three areas. Most prominent are the World War I and II posters, which Mr. Walker began collecting in 2008, triggered by divisiveness and angst of that time's financial crisis, which paralleled in some ways the fear and stresses of wartime. Attracted initially to French posters from WWI because of their aesthetic and historical qualities, Mr. Walker said this was a very personal collection. Most were purchased from a professor of French studies at Indiana University, who imported the posters and backed them with archival material. These posters cover a wide range of war-related subjects such as the sale of government war bonds, promotion of troop and home front morale, dissemination of war goals, and sale of war damage reconstruction bonds. All posters are original; almost all are 100 years old; most are stone lithographs. Despite their age, the posters retain bright colors, attesting to the superb quality of early 20th century French lithography.
Lot 148, Auburn New York Front Page WWI Newspaper Flonges
Also from the WWI era are a portfolio of 24 wartime drawing by Lucien-Hector Jonas and nine newspaper front-page flonges used for printing end-of-the-war news. Lucien-Hector Jonas (1880 – 1947), was a French artist who captured life at the front through his graphic images, thereby providing an important visual record of the war. Flonges are temporary negative molds made to cast a metal stereotype used on a rotary printing press. These flonges – from Auburn, New York, newspapers – reveal what front-page news Americans were reading at the war’s end; their headlines include “Germany Bombs Paris,” “Kaiser Abdicates,” and “Germany Surrenders.”
From 2015 to 2016, the WWI poster collection was exhibited at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School Library, Monterey, California, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Great War. Over the two years, the posters were displayed in groups in order to associate particular poster messaging with the state of the conflict at that time. In view of student interest, Mr. Walker broadened the collection display to include American war posters. This encouraged the students to compare and contrast the French and American poster designs.
With this in mind, Mr. Walker began to add American images from both World War I and II to his French poster collection. French posters from WWI, created by academy-trained artists, focus more on the uplifting and positive aspects associated with war efforts. This contrasts with American posters from WWII, created by commercial artists, which are more visceral and often show the pathos and agony of war. Nonetheless, regardless of the era or country of origin, all posters are striking and memorable, both as compelling propaganda and stand-alone art.
In addition to the intriguing selection of wartime posters, Mr. Walker also focused on items related to USS Mahan, the guided missile frigate on which he served for 18 months during the Vietnam War, as part of his eight years of active and reserve naval duty. The auction includes seven cruise books, which commemorate deployments outside of U.S. waters. USS Mahan, which was scrapped in 2004 after 33 years of service, was the first operational U.S. Navy combatant to be equipped with the Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS). Classified at the time, the system provided for the coordination and control of various weapons systems mounted on similarly equipped ships operating as a naval task force.
Lot 173, USS MAHAN (DLG-11) model made by professional model maker Frederick J. Tyson, State College, Pennsylvania, 1999
USS Mahan was named after Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914), the great naval theoretician and author of "The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783." This influential book was mandatory reading among officers of major navies and, among other things, encouraged Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941) to expand his sea capabilities to enhance Germany's great nation status.
In 1984, Mr. Walker had a 64-inch model ship built of USS Mahan. For various reasons, the project took several years to complete, prompting Mr. Walker to note that "The completion of the model took longer than the actual building of the ship." Nonetheless, once finished, the frigate model graced his San Francisco office for 15 years. Along the way, he collected a number of items related to USS Mahan, including the distinctive chrome cover that encased the Champagne bottle used to christen the ship in 1959.
The third portion of the auction's Hilman Walker Collection includes tableware and flatware from the United States Lines, plus related memorabilia and posters from the 1950s-1960s. Amassed for personal use and gatherings with friends, these lots of housewares include distinctive Eagle chargers and Art Deco patterns.
Now, reflecting changes in lifestyle and residence, Mr. Walker's collections go up for bid, welcoming those who share his enthusiasms of history, art and quality.
By Turner Auctions + Appraisals LLC
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