Poster designed by Georges Hamel for the Monaco Grand Prix, £15,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

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The April 24 auction of Travel & Vintage posters in London included the posters designed by Georges Hamel (1900-72) for both the Monaco Grand Prix in 1934 and 1935. They both got away at the lower end the estimate.

Posters for the oldest race on the Formula 1 racing calendar – ’34 and ’35 were the sixth and seventh stagings – are among the most reproduced of all vintage poster artwork. Those designed by Hamel (who signed his works Geo Ham) are particularly popular, combining bucket-loads of Art Deco styling with views of classic prewar vehicles racing on the Riviera.

Hamel, the ‘Prince of Speed’, was at the top of his game when these two posters were produced. Having received the first of many commissions from French car magazine Omnia and the weekly L’Illustration in 1920, he was quickly engaged by race organisers and car marques to produce artwork for the Machine Age.

He lived and breathed his subject matter: inspired to take up painting after watching a motor race in his hometown of Laval in 1913, he was himself an amateur racer and mechanic. He co-drove a 2-litre V8 Derby L8 at Le Mans in 1934 and owned a Bugatti Type 40.

Hamel’s pastel-hued design for the 1934 Monaco Grand Prix was commissioned by race organiser Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus (AIACR) and printed by Monegasque of Monte- Carlo. Although he chose as his subject gentleman racer Lord Howe (the 5th Earl Howe, Francis Richard Henry Penn Curzon) pulling ahead in his Maserati, the April 2 race was dominated by the successes of the Alfa Romeo team.

The Algerian Guy Moll took the chequered flag at the age of 23 years and 10 months and remained the youngest driver to have won a Monaco Grand Prix until Lewis Hamilton (aged 23 years and four months) did so in 2008.

'Robber' takes the flag


Poster designed by Georges Hamel for the Monaco Grand Prix, £15,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

The 1935 poster, which depicts a Mercedes-Benz W25 out front, proved more prophetic. A tight race on April 22 was dominated by Mercedes and Alfa-Romeo, with Luigi Fagioli — the Abruzzi Robber — taking the flag in his W25B, slightly more than 31 seconds ahead of René Dreyfus in his Alfa-Romeo P3.

Several original copies of both posters have sold in recent years, with most passing the $20,000 mark.