How to collect Vintage Airline Posters?

One question - hundreds of answers. It’s up to you, which poster is worth to buy. A good idea is to restrict yourself by choosing a theme. You may collect posters by many parameters, please have a look at following suggestions.

Poster Collection Books

If you need some more inspiration, have a look at books about vintage airline posters. A collection of my favourite airline poster books you will find below.

Collecting original Airline Travel Posters by Destinations

May be you live in New York and need some decorative art for your loft? One of hundreds of reasons to collect posters of a continent, a country or a city.

Collecting original vintage Posters by Airlines

This is the most popular way to collect airline posters. In most countries exist(ed) just one major airline. May be it was a kind of national pride, to operate an ”own” airline.

Famous for their stunning posters are e.g. Air France, Pan American World Airways, TWA, United Air Lines, Swissair, BOAC and Qantas. Have a look at my collection or at book which depicts the posters of an airline.

Collecting Airline Posters by Planes

This is for enthusiasts and technique freaks only. One of the most popular props in the fifties was the Lockheed Constellation (nickname "Connie"),  a four-engined airliner with a triple-tail design and dolphin-shaped fuselage. 

Another famous aircraft is the first double-deck plane (Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, nickname "Clipper"). It is illustrated on a lot of Pan American World Airways posters – highly collectable!

Collecting Airline Posters by Age and Rareness

Probably the most expensive manner to collect vintage airline posters. But nobody knows, how many copies of a vintage poster still exist. May be some early collectors saved their copy in the year of publishing...

And sometimes "younger" posters are much more expensive: "New York fly TWA" by famous David Klein (printed with fluorescent colors in 1958) is one of the most sought after modernist posters...

Collecting Vintage Travel Posters by Artists

Some of the early poster designers are well known artists now. For example the famous art director Joseph Binder created a series of eight posters for United Air Lines. A very early example of corporate design.

By collecting posters of David Klein, (TWA), Bernard Villemot (Air France) or Donald Brun (Swissair) you can’t make big mistakes.

Collecting Vintage Posters by Style

This is a little bit more difficult, there is no description on the poster which says this is "Art Deco" or "Modernism". If you are experienced in art, it is not a problem at all, but otherwise you need some help. Ask at a gallery, buy some books or visit museums for getting an idea what you may collect. 

Collecting Vintage Posters by Subjects

Isn’t it a beautiful idea, to collect dancing girls on airline posters only?! Music is in the air tonight...

Another theme could by "wild animals" (see examples above)...

Collecting Posters by ”I don’t care what others think about it”

You don’t agree with all these ideas? In this case you’re right – collect what YOU like!

My favourite Airline Poster Books

The Art of the Airways

Variety of posters from many airlines. Well researched texts for each poster. Ideal for beginners.

Capture the glory of flight in this nostalgic look back at the colorful posters that lured yesterday's passengers to take to the air. Constellations, tri-motors, and DC-3s are featured decked-out in the liveries of their owners and presented in stunning color artworks created by such famed artists as Norman Rockwell, Calder, and other popular painters. Nostalgic poster art contained within tells the history of yesteryear's airways through its free-spirited and colorful advertising.

188 pages by Geza Szurovy • English • Zenith Press, 2002 • ISBN ‎9780760313954

Conquering The Skies in Swiss Poster Art

A must for every swiss airline poster enthusiast! A wealth of very well researched information. High quality reproductions of many rare swiss posters.

The story of the conquest of the air is punctuated by the creation of numerous posters which accompany with their magnificent images one of the great human epics. In the nineteenth century, balloon flights were veritable spectacles that attracted crowds and gave rise to remarkable placards, true relics of an era of daring pioneers. In Switzerland, from 1909, the meetings multiplied and met with a success difficult to imagine today. Flight is a dream, aviators are celebrated as heroes. The most important events are accompanied by often very spectacular posters. Today they form an exceptional heritage for their quality and rarity. This exceptional, richly illustrated book will be of interest to the general public, lovers of applied art and art historians alike. Jean-Charles Giroud, curator for many years of the collection of posters of the Library of Geneva, has already written many books and studies on the Swiss poster. He is now director of this institution.

Available in French, too: La conquête de l’air à travers l’affiche suisse

160 Pages by Jean-Charles Giroud • English • Patrick Cramer Publisher, Geneva, 2008

Riding the Skies: Classic Posters from the Golden Age of Flying

The perfect book for collectors of British airline posters. Full-page poster reproductions, each with an informative text on the side page.


This collection of poster art from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s celebrates the airlines of Britain and the Commonwealth. All posters, which appear as full-page colour illustrations, capture the spirit and style of an era when travelling by air meant glamour and adventure.

144 pages - English (Introduction by Jan Morris) - Bloomsbury, 1989 - ISBN 978-0747503378

Rêver le monde: Affiches Air France

The best Air France posters from 1933 to 2006, plus six chapters with lots of background knowledge.


Sublimating travel, suggesting exoticism or a change of scenery, literally being transported elsewhere: such has been the genius of Air France posters for over 70 years. Today, they constitute a fabulous collection of graphic art, where the greatest names in illustration and painting rub shoulders: Cassandre, Paul Colin, Savignac but also Vasarely and Jean Cocteau. This virtual "museum" of more than 1,300 posters is presented here for the first time, enriched with a threefold analysis: artistic, historical and sociological. More than 400 reproductions bring to life the history of air transport and its destinations, but above all the evolution of the image that passengers have of travel, of France and of other continents. Lyrical or realistic, poetic or stereotypical, these posters are all ex libris of a vision of the world, of an image of the other, which evolves with the development of transport and the expansion of advertising.
Philippe-Michel Thibault has been an editorial advisor at Air France since 2000. He was a journalist at France Inter and the Nouvel Observateur before entering political communication. . Louis-Jean Calvet, author of numerous works on languages and society, professor of linguistics at the University of Provence.

Available in English, too: Making the world dream: Air France posters

192 pages by Louis-Jean Calvet and Philippe-Michel Thibault • French • Le Cherche Midi, 2006 • ISBN 9782749104485


Many of these posters can only be found in Russian museums, libraries and collections - a rare insight for collectors of airline posters.


This book was printed as a gift for Aeroflot top management and veterans to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the company. It has never been for sale, so it is extremely rare.  Published in 2013 to commemorate 90 years of Aeroflot 1923-2013.

240 pages • Russian and English

KLM in beeld - 75 jaar vormgeving en promotie

All about advertising and corporate design of KLM - the Dutch airline.


This book documents the history of the development of one of the world's oldest airlines by means of posters, brochures and advertising material.

180 pages by G.I. Smit, R.C.J. Wunderink, I. Hoogland • Dutch • ‎ V+K Publishing/Inmerc i.s.m. KLM, Amstelveen, 1994 • ISBN ‎ 9789066114234

Looping the Loop - Posters of Flight

A variety of rare motifs related to flying from the early days of poster art (1880 to 1943). Very readable background information on each poster.


This Book tells of the passion for flight with an array of 102 rare posters spanning the years of Early Flight, World War I, The Golden Age of Aviation, and World War II. Originally published in Fall 2000 in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service companion exhibition, these vibrant, colorful, hallmark designs each on their own full page, provide an artistic and historical retrospective. The late Ambassador Henry Serrano Villard (1900u1996), a statesman, philanthropist, and scholar, is considered to have been one of the world's leading authorities on early aviation. The book is based largely on Mr. Villard's never-before-published personal accounts from attending worldly early aviation events. Through his eloquent, graceful writing, he leaves a legacy of love and understanding of man and flight.

160 pages by Henry Serrano Villard, Willis M. Allen Jr., Foreword: Jack Rennert • English • Kales Press, 2000 • ISBN 9780967007625

Airline Visual Identity 1945–1975

Last but not least: THE reference book on the subject of airline corporate identity. A must for graphic designers and for collectors of airline posters, too!

A super stylish journey: The ultimate sourcebook for the best airline graphic design. This edition rounds up the most imaginative, influential and surprising designs of the airlines' commercial art from the golden age of flying. It provides an unprecedented, systematic outline of the development of the visual identities of thirteen pioneering airlines, combining innovative research and stunning, museum-like presentations of hundreds of spectacular aviation posters, photos and other illustrations. Conceived by some of the world's top creative minds, such as Ivan Chermayeff, Otl Aicher, Massimo Vignelli, Academy Award winner Saul Bass, or advertising titan Mary Wells Lawrence, the designs found in the book's case studies also illustrate the shift from traditional methods of corporate design and advertising to comprehensive modern branding programs which took place in the same period.

384 pages by Matthias C. Hühne • English • Callisto Publishers, 2015 • ISBN 9783981655018 • Premium edition (436 pages) ISBN 9783981655001