Today, we welcome back Donald
McGill to Worthing, one of the many seaside settings from where millions of
his postcards were sent, over many of the decades of the twentieth century.
An essential aspect of the
seaside holiday was relishing the choice in selecting a postcard, recording
a succinct memory on it, and sending it homeward. Donald McGill
(1875-1962) gave us this wonderful choice.
Constance Ltd., who ceased trading at Littlehampton around thirty years ago,
used an advertising slogan when describing The New McGill Comics – “The
Humour is Universal” … and it remains so. This auction is a lovely
opportunity to see but a small number of his ideas, beautifully drawn with
radiant colours, combining with his characteristic sense of seaside fun.
Poor Donald did
not enjoy 1954 when he was brought before magistrates at Lincoln Assizes,
following a stay in custody and was convicted under the Obscene Publications
Act, 1857. This is central to interest in these comic works of art. 21st
century views show Donald’s humour was neither pointed nor offensive.
McGill can be
credited with documenting much of the fast-moving twentieth century with
innovations of the time; the advent of motoring and those strange traffic
lights, cinema in colour, the world wars but this list too long in these
lines. And the old favourites of hen-pecked husbands, the Scotman’s kilt,
seductive acquaintances, seaside revelry… again the list too long.
Dear old Donald
last made an appearance at auction in Worthing in 1990, a sale that proved a
ground-breaker when his story was told by most of the national newspapers to
a gripped readership. A sale that was estimated to total about £15,000
actually reached £54,000.
Credit for this
record is due to Elfreda Buckland, author of The World of Donald McGill,
first published in 1984 by Blandford Press and to her husband, Basil,
Copyright Owner, at the time, of The New McGill Comics. Elfreda and Basil
were enthusiasts who left a considerable legacy for us all.
was another enthusiast. He spent much of his life trying to obtain an
example of each of Donald’s 12,500 postcard creations. He very nearly
succeeded and left another fascinating legacy for us.
Basil and Robert have passed on now. Lovely people and sadly missed.
current times are fertile. James Bissell-Thomas, current Copyright Owner,
has established a Donald McGill Museum at Ryde, Isle of Wight and Bernard
Crossley has brought more information to light and thoughts to our
consciousness with his excellent recent book, ‘Donald McGill – Postcard
Artist’, published 2014 by Greaves & Thomas and available at £30. The
museum and the book are strongly recommended and each is an invitation and a
valuable source to a new generation of Donald McGill enthusiasts.
Furthermore, Chris Beetles is a long-standing McGill-admirer and The Chris
Beetles Gallery, St. James, London is the venue for periodic selling
exhibitions, always offering much informed guidance.
was once described as “The most popular, hence most eminent English painter
of the century”.
is invited to relish the choice !