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Monument to English football failure on sale

IF you see hordes of Scots queuing up outside Sotheby’s in New Bond Street on Tuesday (March 10) and are wondering why, there is a simple answer.

The black granite monument to the England football team's defeats which is on offer at Sotheby's.

The black granite monument to the England football team’s defeats which is on offer at Sotheby’s.

The auction house are offering a black granite monument, like an epitaph on a memorial, engraved with every occasion the England football team has lost a game.

The untitled work by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan is estimated at £400,000-600,000 as part of the single-owner Bear Witness sale. He first exhibited the monument at a London show in 1999 and the roll-call of shame stretches from from Scotland’s 2-1 defeat of England in Glasgow in 1874 to Romania’s 2-1 victory at the 1998 World Cup (it is lucky it doesn’t include defeats since, or the world supply of granite could be under threat).

“I guess it’s a piece which talks about pride, missed opportunities and death,” said Cattelan, enfant terrible of the art world, known for his satirical and humorous sculptures.

His other well-known works include La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour) which depicts Pope John Paul II being struck down by a meteorite.

It is believed that Cattelan is working on a new monument to the number of Champions League and Europa League final appearances by Italian clubs in recent times but he can’t find a suitable pebble.

American Pie original manuscript to be sold by Don McLean

A LONG, long time ago…

American Pie album cover (© 2003 Capitol Records)

American Pie album cover (© 2003 Capitol Records)

Unless you’ve been living on the Planet Zog since the end of the sixties or your idea of popular music is early 6th century Alpine yodelling, you will recognise the start of one of the most famous songs of all time.

American Pie by Don McLean is the quintessential US anthem but its lyrics resonate across the world. Now, thanks to Christie’s New York, you have the chance to bid for the original manuscript and notes, offered by the singer-songwriter. If you are not put off by an estimate of $1m-1.5m on April 7, that is.

The original working manuscript and typed drafts for the song comprise 16 pages, containing 237 lines of manuscript and 26 lines of typed text.

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Wearing the wrong clothes to greet a German kaiser

The kaiser flag used for the visit of Wilhelm II to Beaulieu in 1907.

The kaiser flag used for the visit of Wilhelm II to Beaulieu in 1907.

IT’S not every day that the kaiser pops in for a cuppa, a chinwag about new-fangled cars and then complains about your dress sense.

But that’s what happened to the presumably bemused 2nd Baron Montagu when Wilhelm II called in to Beaulieu in Hampshire during a 1907 visit to the UK.

The kaiser was a very keen car collector and had bought no less than 17 motorcars in the past two years. John Montagu – whose descendants now run the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu – was Britain’s leading motor advocate at the time.

But the unexpected visit meant the baron had no time to prepare and he was mortified to find out afterwards that the kaiser had actually complained to the king about the inappropriate clothes he was wearing – inadvertently causing a diplomatic incident.

Paul Tritton, in his book John Montagu of Beaulieu, Motoring Pioneer and Prophet, writes: “Perhaps it was his uncle, King Edward, who suggested that he should call on Britain’s leading motoring spokesman.

“Whoever it was who initiated the meeting, Montagu barely had time to return to Palace House from London in time to greet the kaiser, and he committed what the emperor considered to be a social gaffe by wearing casual clothes. A photograph taken at the entrance to Palace House clearly shows a stern kaiser standing squarely on a newly unrolled red carpet, with a serge-suited and bowler-hatted John Montagu standing at his side.

“While clearly not sufficiently insulted to lose an opportunity to be photographed, Wilhelm left Beaulieu in Teutonic high dudgeon in one of the four Daimlers that had been provided for his party.”

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Keep calm and keep consigning Second World War posters

Keep Calm and Carry On poster sold by Onslows for £15,000.

Keep Calm and Carry On poster sold by Onslows for £15,000.

SUCCESS begets success, as the saying goes, and this is certainly true for auction houses when it comes to securing tasty consignments.

The now ubiquitous and instantly familiar Keep Calm and Carry On poster from the Second World War is rare but is actually surfacing in increasing numbers thanks to the soaring prices they are making at auction.

For salerooms reaping such rewards, it also encourages similar consignments from vendors keen to seize the moment.

A Keep Calm… poster sold at Onslows is a perfect example. Not only did it make a significant price but it has also helped to uncover a stash of wonderful Second World War designs for sale. The original poster with red background with white lettering and crown,  printed 1939, 2ft 6in x 20in (76 x 51cm), was estimated at £5000-7000 in their December 19 auction but made £15,000 (plus 21.6% buyer’s premium and VAT), selling to a commission bid. more »

Complete any Churchill collection with a phial of his Blood

BLOG churchill bloodYou may have noticed our earlier blog about a Winston Churchill waxwork up for sale at Chippenham Auction Rooms beginning with his famous wartime quote: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

Thanks to yet another Churchill-related lot coming to light in this 50th anniversary year of his death, it now turns out you can indeed expect blood from him at any rate (we’re not sure about where to go for the tears and sweat).

A phial of Sir Winston’s blood collected only three years before his death is on offer from Duke’s auctioneers of Dorchester on March 12.

The 3in (7cm) glass phial, labelled ‘Sir Winston. S. Churchill W.W.B.9’, contains a sample taken from him on June 29, 1962, at The Middlesex Hospital by student nurse Patricia Fitzgibbon. The blood was never used and as it was about to be thrown away, Nurse Fitzgibbon was given permission to keep it. It has been in her possession ever since. more »

Break out the vintage bubbly for these antique carriages

Champagne Barouche

1870s Barouche commissioned by Veuve Clicquot, to be sold by Bonhams on March 7

Break out the vintage bubbly – two stylish antique carriages from rival French champagne houses are rolling up to the rostrum at Bonhams in Oxford next month.

Representing the luxury end of 19th century transportation, the older of the two is a barouche commissioned in the 1870s from Veuve Clicquot and built by A. Blin of Toulouse. The barouche was an elegant carriage popular among the upper classes and this example, with its navy blue coachwork and cream silk interior, would have been ideal for transporting Veuve Clicquot’s important clients. more »

Buzz Aldrin – The first selfie taken in space

Buzz Aldrin ‘selfie’ – first self-portrait in space, Gemini 12, November 1966 (estimate £600-800)

Selfies are everywhere now and taken by everyone. But when Buzz Aldrin snapped himself in 1966 they were not exactly common.
The fact that he was in orbit at the time makes it even rarer.

Dubbed the first ‘selfie’ taken in space, the photo taken during an EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) while the astronaut was climbing around outside the spacecraft is a star lot of a sale at Bloomsbury Auctions in London on February 26.

This selection of prints from a previously unseen private collection of vintage photographs by NASA’s pioneering astronauts, taken in space and on the Moon, are on exhibition at Mallett Antiques (Ely House, 37 Dover Street, London) until the auction. more »

Original £1 and 10 shilling notes stolen in the Great Train Robbery for Auction

BLOG Great Train Robbery 1Original £1 and 10 shilling notes stolen in the Great Train Robbery and later used in evidence feature in a Northamptonshire sale.

J P Humbert Auctioneers in Towcester have several items from the £2.6m hold-up – about £40m in today’s money – in their February 18 sale as a taster for a 1000-lot offering of Great Train Robbery memorabilia taking place on June 16.

Other lots in this earlier selection include the wristwatch and signet ring worn by Ronnie Biggs during the robbery, the ignition key from the getaway Land Rover, the petrol cap from the getaway lorry, a length of wire used to alter railway signals at Sears Crossing (used in evidence) to stop the train and even parts of the Monopoly board game the gang used at Leatherslade Farm where they famously played Monopoly with ‘real’ money. more »

Mint Condition Star Wars figure sets auction record

blog star wars 1The toy ripped open from plastic and cardboard may bring joy to a child – but it is the simple packaging that makes the big money when that child becomes a collector with an eye on pounds, not play value.

Pristine quality is everything in this market, as a Star Wars figure originally on sale for about £1.50 when released in 1980 showed when rocketing to an astronomical £15,000 (£18,000 when 20% buyer’s premium is included) at Vectis auctioneers of Thornaby, Stockton-on-Tees, on January 28.

The toy specialists believe this sum paid by an unnamed online bidder makes it the most expensive production Star Wars action figure ever sold at auction. more »

Is this the most iconic sporting photo ever?

BLOG Ali photoWhat are the most iconic photos of the modern era? The Marines raising the stars and stripes on Iwo Jima perhaps. The Beatles crossing Abbey Road. The lone guy in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square. Ed Miliband eating a bacon sandwich.

But when it comes to sport one of the very first to spring to mind is the 1965 image of Muhammed Ali standing over a flattened Sonny Liston, yelling at him after the first-round knockout, red glove held to his shoulder.

Both sets of gloves from that fight are now appearing at auction 50 years later at American saleroom Heritage Auctions, together with a signed print of the photo by Neil Leifer. The gloves will be offered as a set on February 21 in a New York sports auction with a starting bid of $500,000. more »

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