Posters from the Hans Sachs Collection

July 9, 2013 - January 8, 2014

Dr. Hans Sachs was a German Jewish dentist who amassed the largest and most significant private poster collection in the world, totaling 12,500 posters in 1938. The posters were displayed as mounted exhibits, open to the public, through a society of friends. After the Nazi take over of Germany, Joseph Goebbels, chief of Nazi propaganda sent police to Dr. Sachs’ home in 1938 to confiscate the entire collection, telling him it would be transferred to a new museum. That would be the last time the Sachs family would see the posters for 75 years.

Sachs posters

The Sachs family has been fighting for the return of the poster collection since pieces of the collection were seen in East Berlin in 1966. Each attempt had been met with contention from the German art organizations and courts. In 2009, Peter Sachs, a former Sarasota resident, won a test case at Berlin’s administrative court over one poster, but the German Historical Museum, which admitted to holding 4,000 of the posters, appealed. More over, the Museum had acknowledged they had 8,000 of the posters in 1992. In January 2010, the German judicial system affirmed that the posters belonged to the Sachs family, but said the collection must remain in Berlin. The case eventually went to the Constitutional Supreme Court of Germany where it found the family was the rightful owner.

In 2012, the German Historical Museum finally released an estimated 4,259 posters to Peter Sachs.

The extensive collection of posters includes mostly small original print runs of art, propaganda, politics, entertainment, travel, sports, consumer products, and scenes of war, some dating back to 1885. His collection included works by notable artists such as Mucha, Steinlen, Cassandre, Cheret, Bernhard, Edel, Gipkens, Klinger, Carlu, Schnackenberg, Dufau, Grasset, Fennecker, Hohlwein, Kainer, Pechstein, Scheurich, Biro, Leyendecker, Christy and Flagg among others. Dr. Sachs organized the first poster collecting society and in 1911, published Das Plakat (The Poster), an international magazine which quickly developed a devoted following.

Some of the posters will go to museums, including the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU; others have been and will be auctioned off to the public. Peter Sachs explained his reasoning to The Huffington Post: “‘There's of course no practical way that I could frame and hang 4,300 posters, so I just didn't see any other alternative than to do what we're doing,’ Peter Sachs, 75, said by telephone…‘But I don't feel guilty in any way whatsoever — even with them being auctioned I think it's far preferable that they will wind up in the hands of people who truly enjoy them and appreciate them rather than sitting in a museum's storage for another 70 years without seeing the light of day.’" The value of the collection is estimated to be between $6 million and $21 million.

Sachs posters2

Dr. Sachs died in 1974, never having seen his poster collection after the fateful day in 1938 when they were seized by the Nazis. In a report, Dr. Sachs recalled that day, “The day after next, three giant trucks appeared. The blackest day of my life had begun. With my own hands, I took 250 aluminum arms, each containing 50 posters, from their supports, removed the bibliography with its 80 larger works and hundreds of single articles, carried 12 full card indexes boxes with 1,000 cards each and the entire miniature graphic to the trucks, where they were carried off – never to be seen again!”

Posters from the Hans Sachs Collection will remain on display in Bessie's Bistro through December 15, 2013. Check the calendar page for public programs that complement the theme of this exhibit.

Presented by Peter Sachs and Family in honor of the Legacy of Hans Sachs. Courtesy Guernsey's, New York.