Diving Frannie Up For Grabs


Antiques poster expert and women's bathing cap collector Eric Wier-Dough (62) who was declared bankrupt at Burstock Crown Court last Wednesday has put the entire contents of his home up for auction. Said to include "the finest private collection of posters featuring women's bathing caps anywhere outside Thailand" proceedings from the sale of 2,300 items are set to reach more than "several hundred pounds". A spokesperson for Sotherbones, the Dorset auctioneers was confident that one item in particular - "Diving Frannie" - would generate a great deal of interest amongst bathing cap and antique poster aficionados: "We are confident that one item in particular - "Diving Frannie" will stir a great deal of interest amongst bathing cap and antique poster aficionados", she said.

Originally commissioned by British Tobacco (now British American Tobacco) to promote their Rothman's brand of cigarettes, the poster sought to exploit the phenomenal popularity of swimmer Frannie Blankers-Thrupiece who captured the public's attention in August 1943 when she became the first woman to break the 55 minute barrier for a shore to shore traversal of a 500 meter wide stretch of the Bristol Channel without the aid of a float. Rarely seen in public without a cigarette in her hand (though she never smoked in private), Ms Blankers-Thrupiece was promoted as "a five a day sort of girl" and was instrumental in increasing the popularity of smoking amongst females in the immediate post war years. She was also briefly the face of Helena Thrupenstein - the Dorset and East Grinstead-based cosmetics company.

The poster, by renowned commercial artist Salvador Kwikk-Bucke, is regarded as a masterpiece and an icon of 1950s popular art. Surviving examples are rare. Though several thousand were produced, few survive to this day as they were considered disposable and quickly replaced in later campaigns. "Surviving examples are rare" explains Sotherbone's representative Hedda Sales. "Though several thousand were produced, few survive to this day as they were considered disposable and quickly replaced in later campaigns."

The poster has a reserve price of £18 and is expected to be snapped up by another private collector. "Much as we would like to acquire the work for the nation, it's just not realistic to expect to raise the necessary sums in the time available", said Coombe Keynes Municipal Gallery Director Sir Niklaus Saratoga, "we are way out of our depth in an appeal for padded envelopes and this would just tip us over the edge." No one from Dorset Arts whose grant to the Gallery was cut by 95% this year was available for comment, though former Chair Mrs Amanda J Threadbone described the situation as "disappointing". "A pristine Frannie is a precious thing and we shouldn't let it slip so easily from our grasp", she added.


This rare survival from the Golden Age of Cigarette Advertising is expected to attract a great deal of interest when it goes under the hammer next week.

This rare survival from the Golden Age of Cigarette Advertising is expected to attract a great deal of interest when it goes under the hammer next week. Former owner Eric Wier-Dough has been forced to sell his unique collection to meet legal expenses arising from his recent arrest on "Thailand-related" charges.


2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All