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The First Book printed in English makes £900,000 at Auction

BLOG CaxtonIf ‘multi-tasking’ had been around as a phrase in the 15th century, it would have been apt to describe William Caxton.

Not content with being a successful member of the Bruges merchant community involved in the wool trade and representing his colleagues as governor of the English Nation of Merchant Adventurers, and quite possibly being a financial adviser to Margaret of Burgundy, he produced not just the first book printed in English, but the first ever printed or published by an Englishman. more »

Cats favourite sitting bowl, turns out to be 1425 £90k Ming Bowl

BLOG cat bowlThis 12in (30cm) blue and white bowl provided the most spectacular of a clutch of multi-estimate prices at an Essex saleroom on August 5-6. Good job that the family cat was obviously such a graceful creature, then – it was apparently one of its favourite resting places.

If the moggy had destroyed that said vase it could not have made a £90,000 hammer price after it sailed past an estimate of just £200-300, in the process creating a house record for the Reeman Dansie saleroom in Colchester. more »

‘Snowflake’ Bentley Photomicrographs from 1890s make $18k

BLOG snowflakeWe’re all going to shuffle off this mortal coil one day. But sometimes when it happens it seems strangely appropriate: the ‘he/she died doing what they loved best’ line.

Wilson A. Bentley probably didn’t intend to meet his end by dying of pneumonia after walking six miles home in a snowstorm, but as the first person to photograph a snowflake, in 1885, and producing over 5000 images over the next three decades, maybe there was a certain fate involved. more »

The first man to be apprehended through the use of radio

BLOG Crippen 1 The first man to be apprehended through the use of radio? You have probably heard the name: Dr Crippen, the notorious murderer who did away with his wife and ended up going to the gallows.

Shropshire auctioneers Mullock’s have original prescription books belonging to Hawley Harvey Crippen which were used as evidence to convict him and are offering them with an estimate of around £3000 in their online-only September 2 sale.

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Another highly desirable two-wheeler with solid Yorkshire connections

BLOG howard and marinaIn a previous blog we told you about a bike said to have been used by Mark Cavendish in the 2010 season. The ‘Cav’ bike that made £5300 at Tennants auction house in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, on August 1, sold to a bidder in the room against strong competition from all corners of the UK.

Here’s another highly desirable two-wheeler with solid Yorkshire connections, perhaps not with Tour de France-winning potential though. Why not bid for a 1950s Phoenix bicycle used by the legendary Marina from Last of the Summer Wine? Lincoln auctioneers Golding Young & Mawer are offering it on September 4 (estimate £500 – £800), and it is being sold by actress Jean Fergusson, who played Marina from 1984 to the mid-1990s. more »

Tibetan Armour & 1860s Fashionistas

BLOG Tibetan armourIs this Lady Gaga’s latest outfit? Er, no. The pop star is famed for outlandish gear such as the dress made of slabs of meat she took to the MTV Video Music Awards in LA in 2010, but as far as we know she hasn’t tried Tibetan armour just yet.

Early armour from Eastern Tibet is an understandably rare commodity but West London auction house Thomas Del Mar’s June 25 sale included this well-preserved suit of decorated lamellar leather which sold at £5,000.

Two pairs of large plates protected the torso, front and back, while the long skirt was made up of eight overlapping tiers of leather bands linked by leather thongs. more »

US Army WW1 Recruitment Poster – Destroy This Mad Brute

M29589-6 001Another fine example of high prices being paid for First World War memorabilia as sales coincide with the centenary of the outbreak of the conflict can be seen in the form of this striking American recruitment poster from 1917.

Showing the ‘mad brute’ of Germany that must be destroyed, this design is one of the most evocative war posters produced and it sold for $15,000 (£9375), or $18,750 including buyer’s premium, to a collector at Swann of New York on August 6. more »

Two Lots to Rule them All

BLOG saruman staffBLOG Aragorn swordEver wanted to indulge in your own Dungeons & Dragons style fantasy? What better way to release your inner wizard (or King of Men if you prefer that sort of thing) than to run around the countryside with Saruman’s staff and Aragorn’s sword from the Lord of the Rings films?

Yes, they are available to bid for thanks to the Bonhams and Turner Classic Movies auction to be held in New York on November 24, dubbed There’s No Place Like Hollywood. more »

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

BLOG scarecrowDamn right, Dorothy. (Unless Kansas of the 1930s featured munchkins, talking scarecrows, lions and tinmen, not to mention witches and a yellow brick road.) They were in fact in a film which of course has become one of the all-time favourites: The Wizard of Oz.

On August 18, 1939 – less than a fortnight before Hitler’s invasion of Poland launched the world into years of darkness – Frank S Nugent reviewed this fantasy in the New York Times: “It is all so well-intentioned, so genial and so gay that any reviewer who would look down his nose at the fun-making should be spanked and sent off, supperless, to bed.” more »

WW1 biscuits sold at Lockdales

Souvenirs brought back from the front line by soldiers in the First World War come in all shapes and sizes but one of the most unusual lots must surely be these biscuits offered by Lockdales of Ipswich on June 18-19.

WW1 biscuits sold at Lockdales

WW1 biscuits sold at Lockdales

They were brought back from by an L.B. Charles – thought to be Lt Lionel Bruce Charles of the 5th Battalion, The Queen’s Regiment, said to have lived for a time at Wroxham House, Norwich – and their labels read ‘Biscuits used by troops in Suvla Bay’, one marked for Gallipoli and the other for Dardanelles, August 1915. They sold to a London dealer for £290 against an estimate of £40-60 (not for a snack, presumably). Made simply from flour, salt and water mixed into a paste, they were cooked for about 45 minutes. No wonder they have survived so long…
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