The earliest items in the collection are charming postcards dating from the early 1900s. The lively and colourful illustrations refer to events of the time. From vehicles of a bygone era to the endorsement of women’s rights, Shell’s wit and vision illustrates a charming and innocent period of motoring history, in a uniquely English manner.
Posters are characteristic of Shell’s advertising during the 1920s and 1930s. A list of artists not instinctively associated with commercial art were commissioned to convey simple messages for Shell's poster advertising. There are over 7,000 printed posters and 1,000 original art works in the collection reflecting the charm and character of a nostalgic age of motoring.
Shell’s interest in Valentine Cards began in 1938 with the innovative idea of sending Valentine greetings to ‘lady’ customers, a tradition that continued until the 1970s. The cards were designed by artists of the day and carried witty jokes and rhymes on motoring and petrol themes.
One of Shell’s most memorable and loved products of the 20th century was the Shell Guides. From the 1930s to the 1980s, Shell commissioned innovative writers, artists, designers and academics to produce modern and comprehensive guides to the counties of Britain. Created to encourage the British public to take motoring holidays in UK, the guides endorsed the discovery and pleasure of the landscape celebrating the ordinary and peculiar of small town Britain.
From the 1930s to 1950s Shell produced humorous press advertising designed by celebrated cartoonists and illustrators including Rex Whistler, Edward Bawden and Mel Calman. Their illustrations and witty rhymes inspired years of impressive campaigns that kept the public engaged with Shell.
The Shell Heritage Art Collection is committed to ensuring that its artworks are enjoyed by as many people as possible through a variety of exhibitions and displays. Individual works are also loaned to museums and galleries across the UK and Europe for bespoke exhibitions.