Friday, May 21, 2010

Space Age (1959)

Lots of space art goodness for today.
OK this one is for Michael S. We had been talking about this poster and I promised to blog about it when it got here.

Only identifying information on it is: Copyright 1959 Educational Posters #117 "Space Age"

This poster is one of those that gets stuck in your memory. I don't know when I first saw a copy but when I found images of it online a few years ago I kept trying to find one. Part of the problem is that all the identifying information is so generic: "Space age," "Educational Posters," etc.

What is special about it is that it is paintings of rockets, satellites, a flying saucer, and an astronaut. These are from a wide variety of sources including the Collier's series, the Disney series, and a few other interesting inspirations. Each image is labeled so I will give the label in case it is too small to see.

"Personnel Rocket" (Adapted from Lindberg "US Moon ship" model?)
"Instrument carrying satellite" (From Collier's Bonestell 'Baby satellite')

"Relief Ship" (From Disney RM-1 'Circumlunar ship')

"3 stage personnel rocket" (From Collier's Klep illustration)

"Colony sphere" (Possibly from The Torchship "Lewis & Clark" from Time For the Stars by Robert A. Heinlein, 1956)

"Third stage unit" (From Disney 'RX-1' or 'XR-1')

"Flying saucer" (From the 1950 book "The Flying Saucers are Real")

"Three stage rocket"

"Space station" (From Collier's Bonestell illustration or Lindberg "US Space Station" model?)

"U.S. X-15"

"Research ship" (From Collier's Bonestell illustration)

"Exploration ship" (From Frank Tinsley illustration of "Light-propelled space ship")

"Space reconnaissance ship" (From Frank Tinsley illustration "Space Scout" from 1958 book: The Answer to the Space Flight Challenge )

"Weather eye satellite"
"Fourth stage passenger unit" (From Disney MX-1 or XM-1)

"Space suit and anti-gravitational unit" (From Collier's Klep illustration)

"Space reconnaissance and 3 stage propellant"

"Exploration ship" (Collier's Bonestell Mars Ship illustration)

"Observatory satellite" (From Strombecker "Manned Observational Satellite" model?)

The artist was Richard Amundsen.

Educational Posters evidently produced a number of posters for classrooms including HISTORY OF SHIPS, HISTORY OF FLIGHT, SPACE AGE and CHILDREN OF OTHER LANDS. Educational Posters Co., was a division of Dow (Louis F) Co.

Sorry for the low quality photographs but I wanted to show as much detail as I could.


  1. John!

    You are -- as already well and repeatedly established -- The Man!

    Thanks a googleplex for what can only be the greatest blog post in the history of the known universe, imho. And a special thank you for going to the trouble to photograph and comment on the individual poster elements.

    A few comments and questions:

    * How right you are about the genericness of the key terms here, "space age" and "educational posters" -- no wonder I never found anything. And even today, armed with that information (now including the "#117"), I'm still not spotting anything else on the Web. Where did you find those online images a few years ago? Still have a (working) link?

    * I presume all the spaceships were repainted for the poster rather than reproduced from their various original sources. Do you note an artist's signature?

    * I wonder where that memorable "Colony Sphere" came from, assuming it's not an original design!

    * Regarding the "Flying Saucer", is this what you were thinking of? Well, maybe. But it vaguely reminds me of something either from the cover of an old s-f pulp or possibly from the pages of some Gold Key "UFO Flying Saucers" comic. (Side note: as for the latter, one of my favorite things is this cover/issue.)

    * I'm pretty sure the "Exploration Ship", or something much like it, is also from the von Braun/Bonestell/Collier's/Disney nexus.

    * That "Space Reconnaissance Ship" is cool! But where did it come from? An original? (If I had my copy of The Dream Machines or Spaceship Handbook or Spaceships [Goehlich] in front of me, I might have an answer....)

    * "Observatory Satellite" -- another original design, or just something resembling a lot of other era space stations? Hmm.

    Anyhow, thanks again for making my day/week/month!

    -- Michael S.

  2. I keep refining this post, based on my research and your comments. Keep checking and contributing ideas.

  3. The "Space Reconnaissance Ship" is a Frank tinsley design for an orbital scout ship, as is the solid-motor 3-stage booster for it, from "Modern Mechanix" magazine; that "Exploration Ship" is a Tinsley design, too, from the same magazine. I think the "Colony Sphere is tinsley, too, from a design for a generation ship in a series of adverts from the Bosch Armament Company. You can see more on the exploration ship on the "Atomic Rockets of the Space Patrol" website.

  4. John,

    The flying saucer is from "The Flying Saucers are Real" paperback from Gold Medal.

    Graham Bates

  5. ...after a brief respite...

    Grif: Thanks for that information! And to think I even visited the "Deck Plans" page at Atomic Rockets not long ago and gazed upon the "G. Harry Stine's Space Scout".... It's interesting to note that it comes from Tinsley's book "The Answer to the Space Flight Challenge", the reference in Megan Prelinger's new "Another Science Fiction" I'd most like to find. (Heads up to anyone in NYC: Prelinger speaks at a local B&N tomorrow night.) I only wish I could find more on the Colony Sphere, though; just did a bit of searching and came up with nothing.

    Graham: Ah ha, the legendary Keyhoe "classic". I knew I'd seen that saucer around, other than on my childhood copy of the poster in question. And would you believe it -- it's another Tinsley!

    John: I do believe you're right about the "Observatory Satellite" being the Convair Manned Observation Satellite, even if the center sections differ (perhaps the artist preferred a simple sphere to all that complex, curvy tubing?). And yes, I even built the Glencoe version of the model ages ago, sigh. As for the signature, (1) it doesn't seem to be Tinsley's, so we can at least rule that out, and (2) it would interesting to compare it to the signatures, if any, on the other Educational Posters -- assuming you bought those as well. Perhaps someone else here recognizes it?

    One more thing I forgot to inquire about the first time. Usually, your convention for naming your images involves combining the title of the work and its year of publication/creation; e.g., "1966exploringspace.jpg". But this time they all start with "WashingtonDC2009". No doubt there's a good story behind this deviation from the beaten track...? Don't tell me you were in Washington last year and saw the same poster through the same NASA officer's window!

    -- Michael S.

  6. Simply the labels given by the digital camera I was using. I was in DC last summer.

  7. Digital cameras incorporate calendar and GPS functions now? Man, am I behind the times there! :-)

    Anyhow, time to pack up the netbook and go see Prelinger....

    -- Michael S.

  8. This is the greatest poster of all time. Now of course I desperately want one. Thanks for giving me something else to obsess over!

    Fantastic post.

  9. Hi people, just wanted to let you know I have just found one of these posters in basically mint condition at an estate auction, and will be listing it on eBay tonight. To the blogger - great coverage on this poster, you did it justice! I really like it too, but I have no space on my walls. All best - lookingwst

  10. Sorry I'm coming late to the party. Yes, this is the greatest blog post of all time.
    You see, I had that poster when I was a little boy. I've wanted to see it again after all these years.
    When I was putting the Tinsley illustration of Stine's space scout on my web site, I had this nagging feeling that I had seen in before. Now I know why.
    I too would love to find a copy of it.

  11. I just had my poster of over 15yrs framed and now hangs on my wall with love. Because of this site, my wife knew this was worth something more then just cool to me. Thank you, Karl
    (I saw this poster in the background of a UFO club meeting on an old 1970s rerun of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be...(this may be the title))

  12. I've been working on identifying the various spacecraft in the poster.

  13. Its a shame they never built these.

  14. I have this poster framed and up on the wall. I bought it when I was a kid probably in 1959, at the Freedomland amusement park in the Bronx, NY. Torn down and replaced by Co-Op City housing development.

    My poster says, "Satellite City, Freedomland, U.S.A." at the top.

  15. From info given, the actual company was Educational Posters Co., a division of Dow (Louis F) Co. They later licensed the image to others.
    I found 24 artists who worked for Dow from 1958-60, including these on the same series of posters --
    Richard Amundsen (Alice in Wonderland; Animals and Alphabet; History of Ships)
    Emily Carson (Fairy Tales; Mother Goose)
    Don Stivers (American Revolution; History of Military Uniforms; Winning the West)
    Haines Hall (Ballet)
    Jane Oka (Children of Other Lands)
    Barry Weekes (Circus)
    Chris Kenyon (History of Flight)
    The Space Age artist is Richard Amundsen, who had a New York agent.
    His later, fine art signature is here --
    No listings at ISFDB
    He has a comics credit at Jerry Bails' Who's Who -- -- by virtue of some cartoons from OUTDOOR LIFE reprinted in a comics trade paperback
    Bios at

  16. Going through poster tubes and came across this one. I bought it in college when I was having a "space moment". I still love it and think I'm going to frame it, if I can find a spot to hang it! Fun to we so many fans here!