“ANOTHER glorious array of items from our railway heritage with many record prices,” was Ian Wright’s verdict after Sheffield Railwayana Auctions' (no buyer's premium) specialist March 13 sale, and certainly a sale total of £427,000 with only 16 of the 550 lots unsold would be the envy of most auctioneers, some of whom must be wondering if the railwayana market is ever going to run out of steam.
Predictably, the overall success of the collector-driven day was nameplates. Best sellers were Bibby Line, from a Merchant Navy Class loco built in 1945, which took a top-estimate £28,200; MacLeod of MacLeod, from an LNER Class K-4 built in 1938 which went above hopes at £21,000 and The Northamptonshire Regiment, a Royal Scot class plate carried by the LMS Class 6P locomotive built in 1927.
These steam-age stars haul other prices up with them. At Sheffield the the nameplate and badge from the Royal Inniskilling Fusilier, a British Railways Type 4 diesel built in 1962 went well over expectations at £10.800.
Smokebox numberplates, only ever used by British Railways, and, not too long ago an esoteric delight for collectors on budgets, are bringing huge money – led here by No 46120, ex-Royal Inniskilling Fusilier, which went over estimate at £3100.
Such items – like station totems, which at Sheffield saw such bids as £7000 for one from York; £3800 for the Midlands Railways station Menston and £3500 for Heckmondwike – are hardly likely to come over the counter at the average dealer’s shop. Of more interest to non-specialist dealers were prices in the lower regions. “Interestingly, the average price per non-nameplate was £540, the second-highest figure ever at our sales,” said Ian Wright.
So dealers should, perhaps, be on the look-out for smaller items. For instance, a large key-wind pocket watch made for the Somerset & Dorset Railway between 1862 and 1875 doubled expectations to take £3100, and another early pocket watch with brass movement made by Wm Ellery. Fattorini, Bedford, Waltham Mass., for the Brecon & Merthyr Railway took £1100.
Railway connections put a well-known premium on posters – here an LNER example for Dovercourt Bay and Terence Cuneo’s On Early Shift each took £1300 – and even old armchairs can be prized. One offered here from the Pullman Car Company, in fine original condition and upholstered in what Mr Wright believed was the original brown fabric, sold at £2200.
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