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Gentle watercolours from master of horror Peter Cushing

FOR a man linked inextricably with terror, ghosts, ghouls and vampires, the gentle pastimes of birdwatching and painting watercolours would not be your first guess when it comes to hobbies.

Watercolour by Peter Cushing on offer at Hansons auction house on December 2.

Watercolour by Peter Cushing on offer at Hansons auction house on December 2.

But Peter Cushing (1913-94) had a very different side to the sinister roles he became known for in the film world, from Hammer Horror ghastliness to the horribly named Grand Moff Tarkin in the original Star Wars (1977).

“I’m actually a gentle fellow, never harmed a fly and I am a keen birdwatcher,” Cushing said.

“‘I do get tired of the neighbourhood kids telling me ‘my mum wouldn’t want to meet you in a dark alley’.”

In later years, after the death of his beloved wife Helen and a prostate cancer diagnosis, he retired to the peace and quiet of Whitstable in Kent where birdwatching and painting were favourite pastimes.

Two of his earlier watercolours are coming up at auction on December 2 at Hansons in Etwall, Derbyshire.  Adrian Rathbone, head of paintings at the auction house, says:  “They can be traced in the current vendor’s family directly to Cushing and show his sensitivity in execution and talent with a brush.  His paintings can fetch many hundreds of pounds on the rare occasion they appear at auction.

“This pair will be offered with a signed postcard from the man himself and are expected to fetch £400-600.”

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Robert Redford baseball glove is among a star studded celeb sale

FANCY owning Robert Redford’s baseball glove, Cher’s mini dress or Mike Myers’ suit?

Robert Redford baseball glove on offer at Julien's Auctions on November 20.

Robert Redford baseball glove on offer at Julien’s Auctions on November 20.

All these and many more will be up for grabs when Julien’s Auctions of Beverly Hills offers the Hollywood film and TV costumes and props from the Golden Closet Archive in Beverly Hills on November 20, writes Anne Crane of Antiques Trade Gazette.

The Golden Closet was founded in 1996 by Breanna Livie, dealing in the sale, consignment and purchase of memorabilia from the movie, TV and music industries.

Livie’s life has long been associated with Hollywood’s costumiers. Back in the 1970s, her grandparents, Charles and Tillie James, and her father, Jim Livie, established one of the first independent motion picture costume companies and collectively the James and Livie families have provided wardrobe to the entertainment industry for almost 50 years.  The collection spans pieces from the Golden Era of Hollywood to today’s blockbuster films and television series.

The baseball glove was used by Redford in The Natural and is guided at $500-700. The mini dress was worn by Cher on The Sonny and Cher show and is estimated at $2000-4000, while Mike Myers’ suit featured in Goldmember and is guided at $6000-8000. From a more recent TV hit comes a selection of costumes and prop from the Mad Men representing every major character in the series.

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Hans Coper and Lucie Rie studio ceramics showcased in a Leeds bungalow

“WE don’t take holidays and don’t run a car and now with a free bus pass it feels like a pay rise.”

The collective hammer price for this group of 21 pieces by Hans Coper (1920-81) was £426,000 – a far cry from the estimated £27,000 the Firths spent across two decades of collecting studio ceramics.

The collective hammer price for this group of 21 pieces by Hans Coper (1920-81) was £426,000 – a far cry from the estimated £27,000 the Firths spent across two decades of collecting studio ceramics.

On the surface, Alan Firth (1934-2015) and his wife Pat (1934-2012) – author of these bon mots – were stereotypes of parsimonious West Yorkshire working-class folk, getting through life on Alan’s wages of a senior probation officer and the low overheads of a modest bungalow on the outskirts of Leeds, writes Roland Arkell of Antiques Trade Gazette.

Nothing could possibly be more ordinary than that.

Except this story also includes an internationally-renowned collection of British post-war arts and crafts and an extraordinary 40-year collecting odyssey that ended with an £861,460 sale at Adam Partridge in Macclesfield on October 16.

It emerged that behind the net curtains of 35 Alexander Avenue, Temple Newsam, the Firths had been seriously collecting studio pottery since 1973.

They had the good fortune to be buying at a time when the leading exponents of the movement were still alive and selling work direct from the studio. Nonetheless, the Firths had made considerable sacrifices in other parts of their lives to be able to afford them.

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The Elvis collector who had to love Jailhouse Rock

WHEN Julie Wall worked for a Lincolnshire council she was responsible for emptying £1 coins from parking meters. Many of them ended up in her own pockets, however – some £597,963.

Early Elvis Presley acetate from WHBQ radio station in Memphis estimated at £10,000-12,000 in Aston's November 3 sale.

Early Elvis Presley acetate from WHBQ radio station in Memphis estimated at £10,000-12,000 in Aston’s November 3 sale.

Wall, 46, took up to £10,000 a month for nearly a decade.

Apart from being light-fingered, she was an Elvis Presley fanatic and the money was invested in memorabilia such as vinyl records, film posters and cinema lobby cards from visits to record fairs, auctions and internet sites.

After she was caught the hoard of 8000 items was confiscated and the proceeds auctioned off to repay the council. The town hall chasier was jailed for three years in 2005.

That initial sale was in 2007 at Derby saleroom Bamfords, but many of the choice pieces are now being resold at West Midlands auctioneers Aston’s on November 3 as part of an Elvis memorabilia and film posters auction.

They include a rare acetate, marked with ‘Suspicion’ and ‘Elvis’, from the WHBQ radio station in Memphis, Tennessee, where Dewey Phillips played the first Elvis recording to the public.

According to The Hollywood Reporter: “…on July 8, 1954, Sun Records owner Sam Phillips brought jock Dewey Phillips a recording of Presley’s first single, That’s All Right, which he’d recorded just two days before. It was a new genre without a name yet and Phillips couldn’t get enough of it, spinning the single at least 14 times on the air in one night to appease demanding callers listening to his segregation-free programme ‘Red, Hot, & Blue’.”

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Why Man Utd and FA Cup are football collecting holy grail

IF you are a football collector, the holy grail is very early FA Cup or early Manchester United material.

At club level, FA Cup and Man Utd are usually the key terms to high prices at auction in the sporting memorabilia market. Which is ideal for auctioneer Graham Budd, who happens to have several mouthwatering lots in his October 27 sale at Sotheby’s New Bond Street fitting those requirements.

FA Cup final 1886 programme on sale at Graham Budd on October 27.

FA Cup final 1886 programme on sale at Graham Budd on October 27.

The ‘early’ and ‘FA Cup’ side of things to get collectors salivating comes from an FA Cup final programme for Blackburn Rovers v West Bromwich Albion played at Kennington Oval, London, on April 3, 1886.

This 2d programme is actually a match card in form, printed both sides with line-ups and an advert for FH Ayres sporting equipment manufacturers. It was issued for the 15th cup final and the auctioneer has only ever seen one earlier example: the match card issued for the 1882 Cup Final between Old Etonians and Blackburn Rovers in 1882, also played at the Kennington Oval.

Budd will have fond memories of this 1882 card – it sold in May 2013 at his sale for a world-record £30,000 against a £20,000-30,000 estimate. As such the 1886 card has been given a similar £20,000-25,000 estimate.

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Button Gwinnett and his place in American history

“BUTTON who?” When Shropshire documents specialist Ben Jones was told that an American client was considering selling the clipped signature of Button Gwinnett he reached for the search engine, writes Roland Arkell of Antiques Trade Gazette.

The Button Gwinnett signature on offer at an October 20 Mullock's sale estimated at £60,000-80,000.

The Button Gwinnett signature on offer at an October 20 Mullock’s sale estimated at £60,000-80,000.

He soon discovered that this 8 x 3.5cm clip of paper carried the name of a colonial politician who has entered collecting legend as the one signer of the Declaration of Independence who apparently left precious little paperwork to posterity.

The ultimate in American autograph collecting, it comes up for sale at Mullock’s of Church Stretton, Shropshire on October 20 with an estimate of £60,000-80,000.
Much of the appeal in collecting the signatures of all 56 delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia – better known as the signers of the Declaration of Independence – lies in the characters behind them. Not all of them were men of great deeds.

As 19th century philographers soon discovered, it was the largely forgotten political figures – many of them from the Southern states – that presented far great collecting challenges than those posed by the likes of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, who had lived long and written copiously.

That the memorably-named Button Gwinnett (1735-77) of Georgia met an abrupt and unexpected end shortly after signing the Declaration is part of his fame. Returning directly to Savannah after signing the Declaration, this son of a Gloucestershire minister succumbed soon afterwards following wounds sustained in a duel with a political rival.

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George Best Jaguar or a Chinese trike taxi

THE only way you could get something cooler than lot 40 that sold in the H&H Classics auction on October 13-14 is to go to the Arctic and get an Eskimo to build an igloo with a polar bear licking an ice cream outside.

George Best's E-Type Jaguar sold by H&H Classics at Duxford.

George Best’s E-Type Jaguar sold by H&H Classics at Duxford.

Recently we blogged about a motorcycle up for auction once owned by King of Cool Steve McQueen. That’s pretty cool. But lot 40… it’s something else. A 1971 Jaguar E-type V12 Coupé. ‘Used and enjoyed’, as the H&H cataloguer puts it quaintly, by footballing legend George Best.

In a world of ‘football legends’, Best deserves that accolade if anyone does. As the overawed cataloguer writes: “Contrary to folklore, not all Britons are besotted with the so-called ‘beautiful game’. However, it has produced a few stars over the years that were of such quality as to catapult them from mere football heroes into super-beings.”

Aside from a quite possibly besotted cataloguer, what else can we tell you about lot 40? An estimate of £40,000-60,000 produced a successful £43,000 hammer price (plus a 12% buyer’s premium) in the sale held at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford.

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Clock reveals story behind first sinking at sea in WW1

Clock from HMS Lance estimated at £400-600 at the Andrew Smith sale in Alresford, Hampshire on October 27-28.

Clock from HMS Lance estimated at £400-600 at the Andrew Smith sale in Alresford, Hampshire on October 27-28.

THE huge dreadnoughts of the First World War boasted plenty of firepower, but the smaller ships could also pack a punch in the right conditions.

When torpedo boats appeared at the end of the 19th century it created a problem for the big boys, leaving them vulnerable to fast surprise attacks.

A solution was the torpedo boat destroyer: a fast small craft in itself which could act as gatekeepers to the larger vessels. By the First World War, the term had become simply ‘destroyer’.

HMS Lance, launched a few months before the outbreak, was such a ship.

And despite not being as impressive as those mighty dreadnoughts, this Royal Navy vessel claimed the honour of firing the first shot of the First World War at sea.

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Top of the Pops photographer collection up for auction at Ewbanks

CERTAIN shows were TV gold when I was growing up. You didn’t miss the latest Dr Who tackling Daleks and Cybermen. Grange Hill actors became virtually your own schoolmates. Take Hart encouraged your artistic leanings (although my parents’ black and white telly rather spoiled the effect). Blue Peter’s sticky-back plastic was legendary – even if we didn’t ever discover what it really was.

Muhammed Ali photograph by Harry Goodwin on offer at Ewbank's.

Muhammed Ali photograph by Harry Goodwin on offer at Ewbank’s.

But Top of the Pops was right up at the peak. In the days when the equivalent of a download was taping songs clunkily off the radio, TOTP was huge.

Now killed off in a world where single and album sales are largely irrelevant, the programme began back in the 1960s.

At that time, a chap called Harry Goodwin was working as a photographer but supplementing his income working as a stage-hand at the BBC’s Manchester studio. In 1963 he was offered a job as photographer for a new weekly BBC music show to be staged there: Top of the Pops. When the production moved to London in 1966, Harry moved with it, remaining in the job until 1973.

Goodwin already had some experience in the field – he photographed the Beatles for the first time in 1963 at The Apollo in Manchester, and went on to have a close relationship with the band.

During his stint as TOTP official snapper he met and photographed every group and singer who appeared, literally hundreds of stars on both sides of the Atlantic, many of whom went on to become icons of the Sixties and Seventies. Eleven of his pictures, notably individual shots of the Beatles, are in the National Portrait Gallery collection.

Now, Surrey auctioneers Ewbank’s are to sell the Harry Goodwin collection of photographs of pop and sporting celebrities on October 30.

The photographs and at least as many negatives, almost all with full copyright, will be sold without reserve. Some will be offered as individual lots, others in carefully selected groups. They are expected to raise a total of around £20,000 and the proceeds donated to the leading cancer centre The Christie, Manchester. Ewbank’s will waive their commission so that the entire hammer total will go to the charity.

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Mantrap to grip bidders at Bonhams sale in Knightsbridge

HUNTING for antiques can be a perilous business. Maybe not in an Indiana Jones kind of sense, battling snakes and facing giant rocks rolling straight at you, but seemingly run-of-the-mill searches involve hazards.

Mantrap on offer at Bonhams Knightsbridge in their December 1 auction.

Mantrap on offer at Bonhams Knightsbridge in their December 1 auction.

When Mark Warde-Norbury inherited Hooton Pagnell Hall eight years ago, a spectacular house dates back to the 13th century sited south of Leeds, standing in extensive gardens, he decided he needed more space.

Of all the objects he uncovered, some of the most interesting come from a fascinating weapons collection, many of them owned by family members across three centuries dating from 1668.

He says: “It was an eye-opening experience going carefully through the house and finding things that I did not know existed. We found weapons in drawers and cupboards and behind furniture, stashed away as though for an attack that never came.”

Not to mention a selection of mantraps.

Warde-Norbury’s search – presumably a painstaking rather than painful one in the end – has resulted in a house sale of a selection of the contents on December 1 in Bonhams Knightsbridge, London.

One of the stand-out lots is indeed a 19th century iron mantrap with 18in (45.5cm) jaws and a tilting footplate. This fearsome object is estimated to sell for £400-600.

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