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When Lucian Freud failed to bring home the Bacon

BLOG freudHistory was made in November 2013 as Francis Bacon’s ‘Three Studies Of Lucian Freud’ set a new high for any lot ever sold at auction – but at a Berlin sale this summer you could have snapped up a portrait of Bacon by Freud for a bargain €850 (£680).

While that triptych from 1969 drew a prolonged bidding battle at Christie’s before it was knocked down to the New York dealers Acquavella for $127m (£83m), the rare piece of Freud ephemera sold at Dannenberg (20% buyer’s premium) on June 13-14 was in a rather different style: a Wanted poster designed by Freud (1922-2011) and posted around the German capital in June 2001. more »

One is a lovable, furry, cuddly bundle of fun. The other is Jeremy Clarkson.

Jeremy ClarksonA familiar, friendly face in popular culture. A lovable, furry, cuddly bundle of fun. No, not Jeremy Clarkson, but a stuffed toy coming up for sale on July 25 which does however have a very strong link to the rather more grizzly and growly Top Gear presenter. more »

20th century’s most desirable piece of furniture

BLOG James Bond deskThe name’s Kjaer. Bodil Kjaer. Her fame may not be immediately obvious, but particularly attentive James Bond fans could recognise her work featured in two of the hugely popular 007 films. more »

Steiff saleroom competition for rare commemorative Titanic bears

Titanic mourning bear SASThe sinking of the Titanic led to a widespread sense of loss, but for many businesses it also presented a wide range of commercial possibilities as they produced items to mark the tragedy.

A month afterwards, in mid May 1912, German firm Steiff placed an order to the mohair manufacturer Schulte Cloth for a large quantity of black mohair. It seems Steiff had received an order from Britain to create black teddy bears – Titanic mourning bears. The order was rapidly fulfilled and five versions were made.

Steiff made nearly 500 of these bears initially but a further 161 were produced from 1917-19, making a total of 655. The first run, sold in shops throughout London, sold out quickly. more »

One of the most infamous documents in history?

Chamberlain 2The piece of paper waved by Neville Chamberlain on his return from meeting Hitler in 1938 must count as one of the most infamous documents in history.

When he landed at Heston airport on September 30 the British Prime Minister made a speech alongside the plane straight after landing, saying “settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace”. It promised “peace for our time”, he later said at 10 Downing Street. more »

Divine intervention leads to over £200k for charity from sale of gold sovereigns

hansons coinsDeath, debt and divorce are cited as the usual reasons for selling up but divine intervention can be added to the list if Hansons’ sale on June 27 was anything to go by.

According to auctioneer Charles Hanson, a “mystery Derbyshire collector” consigned their entire collection of gold items resembling “a modern-day Saxon hoard”, and he gave the proceeds to charity thanks to a Road to Damascus-style revelation after reading the bible. more »

Six great pieces of silver and pewter to celebrate 150 years of Archibald Knox

KnoxArchibald Knox for Liberty & Co was the focus of keen bidding at Bonhams’ decorative arts from 1860 sale on June 18 in New Bond Street.

In a well-timed offering, it coincided with the 150th anniversary of the Manxman’s birth – the focus of several events this year including a large loan exhibition of 115 pieces on display at this summer’s Olympia International Art and Antiques Fair in London and the issuing of a set of special edition stamps by the Isle of Man post office featuring a selection of his designs.

Such good pre-sale publicity aided by sensibly pitched estimates saw this ten-lot group of very choice pieces all sell to contribute just over £100,000 to the sale total. more »

Captain Mike Bannister to sell personal Concorde collection

Concorde machmeterIf you are going to include Concorde memorabilia in your auction, you can’t get much better than sourcing it from the chief pilot himself. Chaucer Collectables of Folkestone, Kent, are selling the personal collection of Captain Mike Bannister of British Airways, who took charge of its last commercial flight, from New York JFK to London Heathrow on October 24, 2003. more »

And now for something completely different…

Jpython footust when you would expect cocoa, pipes and slippers to be more of a priority than prancing round a stage, the Monty Python lot reunited for 10 nights at The O2 in London.

Up in Teesside, meanwhile, on July 12 Vectis Auctions are offering one of the most familiar sights from the original series: the infamous ‘foot’ used in episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and in the title sequence of the German version Die Monty Python’s Fliegender Zircus.

It has been consigned by animation cameraman David Brookman, who spent several hours filming the sequences with Terry Gilliam in 1971. Gilliam signed the work and presented it to Brookman as a memento of their brief artistic partnership. The foot is estimated at £400-600. more »

Interesting historical documents or receipts for a £306m fortune?

Chinese bondsThe big question at David Lay’s auctioneers in Penzance next week: Are these bonds worth a few hundred pounds or up to £3.6m each?
Discovered as a dusty roll of paper in a cardboard box among the effects of a recently deceased estate, these £100 bonds were issued by Britain, France, Germany and the USA as part of the £25m Reorganization Gold Loan of 1913 to support the newly appointed President of the Republic of China, Yuan Shih Kai, as he established the fledgling government of the Republic of China.

As interesting collectables, each note is thought to be worth a few hundred pounds; David Lay sold just ten in their May antique sale with an estimate of £500-1000 and they took £3000. more »

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