Written by Marvin G. Goldman
From the early days of aviation to the present, many airline postcards have featured artistic expression in promoting destinations and highlighting their aircraft. This article covers a selection of aircraft art postcards from a variety of airlines and artists.
Postcard showing a mural by aviation artist Mike Machat, dedicated in 2012, at the Museum of Flying, Santa Monica, California. The mural is 20 feet wide (6.1m) and depicts Douglas Aircraft types from the DC-1 to the DC-10. Oversize postcard, issued by the Museum of Flying.
Mike Machat is one of the world’s leading aviation artists and was the first president of The American Society of Aviation Artists. He is well known to participants in the World Airline Historical Society and related Airliners International shows. Mike was the keynote speaker at the Airliners International 2014 LAX banquet, and hosted an airline art exhibition at the AI 1992 show. He has illustrated numerous airline books, including several written by Ron Davies, and authored ‘The Art of Mike Machat: Painting Aviation’s Legends’ (Specialty Press, 2016). His airline art also appears on several other postcards, including the following:
Eastern Airlines Douglas DC-8-21 N1801. Aviation World card AACS-1. Artist: Mike Machat, California, U.S.
Finnair Douglas DC-10-30. Airline issue, oversize postcard. Part of a series of 13 postcards of different aircraft types flown by Finnair, each illustrated by Mike Machat.
Let’s turn now to a selection of aircraft types on postcard art, progressing from older to newer aircraft and featuring different airlines and artists.
Compagnie des Grands Express Aeriens Latécoère Breguet XIV F-AEIZ. Publisher Shinsai-do. Artist: Masao Satake, Japan.
Instone Airlines (a predecessor of Imperial Airways) De Havilland 34, flying over Croydon U.K. airport about 1926. Modern card produced by Croydon Airport Society. Artist: Kenneth McDonough, U.K.
Florida Airways (a predecessor of Eastern Air Lines) Stout 2-AT Pullman, ‘Miss Tampa’, flying over the coastline between Fort Myers and Tampa, Florida. #28465. Artist: Keith Ferris, U.S. Keith Ferris is a founding member of The American Society of Aviation Artists.
Ansett Australia Fokker Universal VH-UTO. Issued by Fokker, card B006. Part of a commission by Fokker to document the complete range of their production. Artist: Serge Stone of The Netherlands.
Societa Aerea Mediterranea (S.A.M.) Savoia-Marchetti S.71. Airline issue, about 1931. Artist: T. Corbella, Italy.
Imperial Airways Short ‘Scipio’. Published by Salmon, U.K., no. 4106. Artist: C. T. Howard, U.K.
Imperial Airways Armstrong-Whitworth ‘Argosy’, G-EBLF. Publisher postcard #FSM103666/219. Artist: Colin Ashford, U.K. Ashford was a founding member of the Guild of Aviation Artists in the U.K.
Pan American Sikorsky S-40 ‘American Clipper’ departing Dinner Key, Florida. Airline issue. Part of a series of art postcards depicting different Pan Am aircraft. Artist: John T. McCoy, U.S.
LOT Polish Airlines Lockheed L-14H Super Electra SP-AYB. Airline issue. Part of a series of art postcards depicting different LOT aircraft. Artist: Janusz Grabianski, Poland. Grabiaski was also a noted illustrator of children’s books, and many of his illustrations for LOT postcards include children and pets in the scene.
CSA Czech Airlines Douglas DC-3. Airline issue, oversize postcard. Artist: Vladimir Bidlo, Czech Republic. Bidlo has illustrated many of CSA’s aircraft, including a set of 16 continental-size cards with informational backs issued by CSA in 2003 for its 80th anniversary.
EL AL Curtiss Commando C-46. Airline issue. Part of a set issued in 1979. Artist: Danny Shalom, Israel.
MALEV Hungarian Airlines Ilyushin IL-14. Airline issue. Part of a series of postcards on MALEV aircraft. Artist: Akos Bánfalvy, Hungary.
Trans World Airlines (TWA) Douglas DC-4 over Lake Geneva, Switzerland. Airline issue. Part of a set of aircraft/destination postcards. Artist Manlio D’Ercoli, Italy.
Air Katanga Douglas DC-4 OO-KAT (formerly SABENA OO-ADN). The back of this rare card has Katanga postage stamps showing the aircraft, postmarked Elisabethville (now Lubumbashi, Dem. Rep. Congo) on 1 August 1961. Artist unknown.
KLM Lockheed L749 Constellation, PH-TER, over Java, Indonesia. Skyliner postcard no. 10. Artist Thijs Postma, The Netherlands. Thijs Postma is one of the most noted aviation artists and has illustrated several aircraft postcards of KLM and Martinair. He participated in the aviation art exhibition at Airliners International 1992, Orange County, California.
British West Indian Overseas Airways Vickers Viscount at Piarco Airport, Trinidad. Airline issue by BWIA. Oversize postcard. Artist: David Moore, Texas, U.S.
Aeroflot Tupolev TU-114, CCCP-75712. Airline issue. Aeroflot has issued several postcard sets of its aircraft depicted in art form, but the artists are not identified.
VARIG Hawker Siddeley HS-748 Avro, PP-VDU. One of a series of aircraft art postcards published by the Artist, Nelson Francisco Anaia, Brazil.
United Airlines Sud-Aviation Caravelle VI-R. Airline issue and part of a large postcard set of United’s aircraft from inception to the 1970s. Publisher Johns-Byrne Co., Chicago, early 1970s. Artist: Roy Anderson, U.S.
United Airlines Douglas DC-8. International Airlines Museum Historical Post Card #3. Artist: Tom Kalina, U.S. Tom Kalina has provided airliner art for several of the Captain’s Log issues of the World Airline Historical Society and has also been active at Airliners International shows. He is a member of The American Society of Aviation Artists.
AVIANCA Boeing 720B. Airline issue, 1969. Artist: Roberto Sanmartin, Colombia.
Air France Concorde. Airline issue. No. 4 in series interpreting “The Fine Art of Flying”, 1988. Artist: Jacques Monory, France.
Trans-Canada Airlines Lockheed L-10A Electra, with Air Canada Boeing 767. Air Csnada issue on its 50th anniversary, 1987. Artist: Robert Bradford, Canada.
QANTAS Airways Boeing 747-300 in “Nalanji Dreaming” livery. Published by Artist Terry Johnson, born U.S., studio in Australia.
Singapore Airlines Airbus A380. Airline issue, an example of computer art. Today, many aviation art postcards are produced by graphic designers using computer software.
Speaking of computer graphic art, note that the most recent publicity postcards issued for the annual Airliners International shows have been designed by U.S. aviation artist Chris Bidlack. Here is an example of his art for these shows:
Airliners International 2021 Phoenix show card. Artist Chris Bidlack.
I hope you enjoyed this selection of postcards showing passenger aircraft art. There are many more postcards of this type available. Also, there is a whole other category of airline art postcards that emphasize destinations served or contain other advertising – all of which can form a beautiful collection.
All the postcards shown are from my collection. They are standard or continental size except when stated to be oversize. I estimate their availability as follows: Rare: the S.A.M. S.71 and Air Katanga cards; Uncommon: the Florida Airways Stout 2-AT, Imperial Scipio, TWA DC-4, BWIA Viscount and Aeroflot TU-114 cards. The rest are fairly common.
If you have any comments on my articles, I would be pleased to hear from you. Just email me, Marvin Goldman, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time, Happy Collecting