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Buying a TV was so much simpler in the 1950s!

BLOG old TV setA quick check of a website reveals the existence of an ‘LG 49UB820V Smart 4k Ultra HD 49” LED TV’, which, we think, probably refers to a television set.

It was so much simpler in the 1950s – a time when British people could buy British TVs to watch the coronation of a British monarch.

Names like Murphy, Pam and Ekco ruled the airwaves, and while such clunky gadgets are not exactly that suitable for watching Strictly or Downton they are a classy option for restorers, upcyclers, collectors, or anyone who wants to add a splash of black and white retro-chic to their home or workplace. more »

Brussels Art Fair (BRAFA) Preview

BLOG pipe of peaceThey were a familiar feature of the old Western movies, right up there with gunfights at the OK Corral, saloon brawls, faithful steeds and stetsons, spurs and saddles. But the ‘Pipes of Peace’ passed round by Running Deer, Little Horse, Big Nose and their friends to signal all is calm were actually used in a variety of ways.

An intriguing example is being offered at the Brussels Art Fair (BRAFA) from January 24 to February 1 – an event celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

Formally known as a calumet, this early Native American Dakota Sioux pipe is decorated with dyed porcupine quillwork, animal skin and fur and a tuft of red-dyed horse hair. It was made c.1820-40, is about a metre long and has a price tag of 34,000 euros from London dealers Finch and Co. more »

Own a piece of Dambusting history

damOne of the original sights used in the daring Dambusters raid to guide Barnes Wallis’s ‘bouncing bombs’ is the highlight of a remarkable selection of five objects to be offered by a Northamptonshire saleroom on January 20.

J.P. Humbert of Towcester have estimated the mahogany ‘Dann’ sight – thought to be the only surviving example of those used during the attack on the Möhne dam on May 17, 1943 – at £20,000-25,000. more »

Elvis Presley, Taking Care of Business (Class)

BLOG elvis plane 1Forget the blingy Elvis suit and big quiff – if you really want to go for the full-on King of Rock ‘n’ Roll look, buy one of his private planes…

American saleroom Julien’s Auctions are selling the ‘Lisa Marie’ and ‘Hound Dog II’, the two planes that have been on display at Graceland for the past 30 years.

Elvis bought the Convair 880 Jet from Delta Airlines on April 17, 1975, for the then very substantial amount of $250,000. After refurbishing it, the total exceeded $600,000, and he immediately rechristened it the ‘Lisa Marie’ in honour of his only daughter. more »

18 original McGill saucy postcard sketches

BLOG saucy postcard 2

Caption – ‘Pardon me miss – could you possibly turn SIDEWAYS? I want to close the doors!’

The ever-popular saucy seaside postcards of Donald McGill raise more of a chuckle than a moral backlash these days but back in the 1950s the emphasis was on prude rather than rude. It seems incredible now that they fell foul of strict morality laws.

The director of public prosecutions, Sir Theobald Mathew, waged war on the saucy postcard industry and the 79-year-old McGill was even hauled into court and 21 of his designs were banned in 1954 for breaching the 1857 Obscene Publications Act. The mood suited the moralistic stand taken by the Conservative government elected in 1951, leading to the censorship of 167,000 books. Although the restrictions faded several years later as attitudes changed, McGill was found guilty at that Lincoln Crown Court case and fined £50 with £25 costs.

His instantly familiar designs are now highly collectable and while original watercolours by him have often come up at auction recently, a rare chance to buy 18 original McGill pencil sketches, on which the colourful postcards were based, is coming up at Cirencester auction house Moore Allen & Innocent on Friday, January 9.

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What comes to mind when you hear the name Aleister Crowley?

Reproduction, © Bloomsbury AuctionsOccultist, magician, poet, novelist, mountaineer, painter, author. The Wickedest Man in the World. Founder of a religion. A bit of a nutter.

Whatever comes to mind when Aleister Crowley is mentioned, it won’t include the word ‘boring’, anyway. The notoriety of his name possibly lies behind the £11,000 bid online by a private American collector for an original silk ‘magical’ outfit with embroidered decoration he once owned and wore, most famously in a celebrated 1934 Associated Press photograph showing him with ceremonial dagger and arms outstretched. more »

Read all about it – the ultimate Cassandre poster

Cassandre poster

So successful was the poster designer Cassandre (1901-68) that he set up his own advertising agency in the 1930s.

He is perhaps best known for his Art Deco design for the transatlantic cruise liner Normandie, the perspective of his illustration conveying the sheer vastness and grandeur of this icon from the golden age of steam travel.

However, it is another Cassandre design that is seen as the rarest and most sought after, and it was this poster that appeared at auctioneers Van Sabben in the Netherlands on November 15. more »

Boxing clever – the £20,000 Dinky toys


It is widely known that rare old toys can be worth a lot of money, but these pre-war delivery vans advertising commercial brand names proved to be that extra bit special.

The market for Dinky toys is filled with serious collectors and these are exactly the sort of trophies they are after.

In 1934, when the brand was in its infancy, each van cost sixpence, but today those few examples that have escaped metal fatigue and playwear can command remarkable sums. more »

Winston Churchill and Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Watson’s Victoria Cross

Photography Jan Starnes © Dix Noonan Webb LtdWhen Winston Churchill was a war correspondent he wrote in his 1898 book The Malakand Field Force of an officer he encountered on the North-West Frontier: “The attention of the reader is directed to the bravery of this officer. After a long day marching and fighting, in the dark, without food and with small numbers, the man who will go on, unshaken and unflinching, after he has received a severe and painful wound, has in respect of personal courage few equals and no superior in the world.”

The future Prime Minister had accompanied a column that relieved the courageous man in question, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Watson of the Royal Engineers. Watson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions, and that medal is included in a group being offered in the sale of Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria to be held by Dix Noonan Webb in London on December 11. They are being sold by descendants and are estimated at £150,000-180,000. more »

Marilyn Monroe 1940s #Selfie

M29893-7 003Selfies are nothing new – as a self-portrait of Norma Jean Baker taken in about 1940 shows.

Later known as Marilyn Monroe of course, the future star is seen as a smiling teenager in a wide-brimmed straw hat and lipstick, a rather innocent and charming picture contrasting starkly with her more famous sex symbol days.

Seeing as mobile phones were not exactly common in 1940s USA, this image – which was given to a family member – was taken in a photo booth. Nearly 75 years on, in an era where selfies are somewhat easier to arrange, the photo is being offered with an estimate of $8000-12,000 in the Vernacular Photography, Fine Photographs & Photobooks sale at Swann Galleries in New York on December 11. more »

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