Collecting: Vintage Turner Airbrush Prints

29 Jun

IMG_2039 Recently, I’ve gotten into hunting up vintage Turner Manufacturing Co. prints. These mass-produced mid-century era prints have a distinctive look, with pastel colors that fade into one another. The flamingo print pictured here (so sorry for the glare; it hangs in my dining room and is very hard to get a good photo of due to all the windows) is the most popular with collectors. There’s not a lot of information to be found about Turner prints. They were manufactured in Chicago, and were very inexpensive…appealing to people who could not afford fine artwork or were decorating on a budget. They feature birds (flamingos, cranes, cockatoos), flowers, ladies in old-fashioned Victorian dresses and bonnets, leopards or country scenes….bland, pastel, idealized images that would have made them the Thomas Kinkaid prints of their time. I like them a lot! (I have a soft spot for Kinkaid prints, as well, so go figure.)IMG_2043 The 1950’s color palette appeals to me…this flower print is part of a set of four prints; I’ve only managed to find two. IMG_2042 This is the other one. I’m not sure if they were originally sold together or separately; Turner prints were often made to be displayed in pairs, for example, there are lots of sets where one print is of a fancy Victorian lady, and the other is of a dapper Victorian gentleman. IMG_2040 I found this one at the flea market last month. When I researched it on the internet, I found an identical one that was listed for upwards of $400, and the print was described as “rare.” Since then, I’ve come across several more on this web…all Turners were mass-manufactured, so I doubt that there IS a rare Turner print, and I estimate the value much closer to the $20 I paid at the flea. Turner also made mirrors with the prints as decals, and sold prints in mirrored frames; these items have a really nice 1950’s look to them. The first Turner mirror I ever saw was inside Disney Studios theme park. It hung in the lobby of the Prime Time Café when I visited as a junior in high school in 1990–the year after it opened. I don’t think it is still there; the restaurant’s décor, although still 1950’s themed, has been updated/refreshed. I’m not sure I can adequately describe how wonderful I thought the Prime Time Café was on that first visit. I would have happily moved right in!IMG_2041 This print with the cranes is the same large size as the flamingo print pictured above; both hang in my dining room. They are from the flea market here in Nashville, and I paid significantly less than identical prints listed for sale on Etsy or Ebay. If you are interested in Turner prints, I encourage you to search locally for them; they are quite common and easy to source in antique stores, vintage stores, estate sales or flea markets and you will likely find much better prices than you will see on-line.

Happy collecting!

Mrs. T


8 Responses to “Collecting: Vintage Turner Airbrush Prints”

  1. CAM June 29, 2015 at 10:36 pm #

    Love your prints! Not familiar with the Turner prints. I’ve been attracted to Wallace Nutting prints since I first found one at an estate sale. I wouldn’t say it was a great bargain, but the muted colors and vintage look got me at first glace. I have since found a few on Ebay, but I usually get outbid for not pulling the trigger upward!!!

    • apronstringsvintage June 29, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

      I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a Wallace Nutting print but I’m going to be on the lookout for them. 🙂

  2. S Turcotte June 29, 2015 at 11:45 pm #

    Hi Lauren, Mark must feel right at  home with the Flamingo Turner print. We purchased our print in 1956 when we moved into our new 1950’s ranch house.  We had purchased a 3-piece (pink) sectional sofa and this print was perfect right over it.Had it for several years and finally sold it in a garage sale; probably $20.00. I really enjoy seeing your “posts”  Brings back so many memories.. Anxious to see you and Mark in July. I will miss seeing Blake and Emory-Jane though.  Sounds like they are both having a busy summer. Love,Shirley

  3. HG June 30, 2015 at 10:07 am #

    Lauren – I’m a Nutting freak. I have several, plus other art of that vein, by Fred Thompson, David Davidson, and an unknown. Not familiar with the Turner prints – love them!

    • apronstringsvintage June 30, 2015 at 11:58 am #

      Oh cool…did not know about Nutting but I will definitely be watching for them! Did your Trudy suitcase clean up okay?

      • HG June 30, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

        I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Will be working on that this weekend.

  4. Lisa September 10, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    I LOOOOOVE the Turner prints, specifically of Flamingos and Cockatoos. Twice in Louisville I resisted my better sense and didn’t buy framed versions of the self same, I’ve regretted it ever since. Maybe I’ll come across another in the wild! 🙂 The ones with people I like but I’m not nuts about, THESE on the other hand… love yours to death. Also, as a result of your commenters, I have something else to start looking for, these Wallace Nutting prints! I hadn’t heard of them either but now I’m in love.

  5. Sheila Wynn October 21, 2015 at 10:28 am #

    I have the same crane print with the original paper back. I’ve read in my research on other sites that some of the Turner prints had other paintings on the backs of the prints. I’m afraid to take the paper off to check the back in fear it will decrease the value of the original Crane. Any suggestions?

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