Wonderful Copenhagen - The poster



Vagnby poster Wonderful Copenhagen

Do you see the difference?



The poster: Wonderful Copenhagen

The poster is an iconic rendering by Vagnby depicting a police constable helping a duck family to cross the street while the traffic is stopped.

Probably Denmark’s most know travel poster. The poster has been printed in several times, but how many times? Does anyone know?

Later prints shows the same woman in trousers.

How many times was this poster printed? I'm told 1953, 1955?, 1957, 1959, 1961, and 1964.

The poster was later published by the Copenhagen Tourist Office as a sales poster in the 70s and possibly 80s.

It has been printed by different printers:

  • 1953: J. Chr. Sørensen & Co. A/S, Copenhagen
  • 1957: Tutein & Koch, Copenhagen
  • 1959: J. Chr. Sørensen & Co. A/S, Copenhagen
  • 1961: J. Chr. Sørensen & Co. A/S, Copenhagen
  • 1964: J. Chr. Sørensen & Co. A/S, Copenhagen

Send more info if you have.

1985 poster competition during the World Travel Market at Olympia in London

In the Dutch magazine "Affiche" you can ready a later story about this poster. 

'"Mother Duck- as the Danes call it - remains Copenhagen's most cherished poster. As recently as 1985 it won an international poster competition in London, by mistake! The Copenhagen Tourist Association wrapped the official entries in whatever came to hand. That just happened to be Vagnby's good old 'Mother Duck', which waddled straight into the hearts of the jury, winning the first prize."

According to the Danish travel industry magazine "Stand By", the Copenhagen Tourist Association had sent three posters to the World Travel Market travel fair in the British capital. It was Bo Bonfil's "Copenhagen Jazz Festival", Jacobs Sneum's "Copenhagen Towers" and Arnoldi's "Jazzplakaten". The three posters were wrapped in a fourth poster, Viggo Vagnby's traffic poster, with the officer holding back traffic so a mother duck and her ducklings can cross the street. The organizers in London thought that the 20-year-old poster should also enter the competition, and among more than 200 submitted posters from around the world, the jury pointed to the duckling poster as the absolute best. The other three Danish entries were not placed. (Google Translate)

I have never been able to find any news about the  actual poster competition itself.

The Song

The song "Wonderful Copenhagen", released in 1953 was written by Frank Loesser and performed by Danny Kaye with Gordon Jenkins and his orchestra.

It was taken from the 1952 film, Hans Christian Andersen and is considered to be the best known song in the film. It occurs in the film where Andersen, played by Kaye, is about to be expelled from Odense and his apprentice Peter advocates going to Copenhagen. 

The song was used by the local tourist organization but was not a hit in Denmark due to Kaye's pronunciation of "Copenhagen" making the word sound German and thus neither English nor Danish.