It is not often that auctioneer Graham Budd finds his name splashed over the front pages of Estonian newspapers but when a particular group of cycling memorabilia came up at his November 4-5 sale it is exactly what happened.
The reason behind his new Baltic fame helps to explain why a
cyclist's gold Olympic medals and 15 other varied lots from her
career created a huge amount of interest back in her home
Erika Samulae is, it's fair to say, a national heroine. She not
only became the first woman to win an Olympic gold for track
cycling (Seoul 1988), representing the USSR, but she was also the
first gold medal-winner for Estonia, winning in Barcelona 1992 just
after the republic recovered the independence it lost in the Second
Both gold medals sold for £25,000 (plus 17.5% buyer's premium)
on £9000-12,000 estimates and the bicycle she used in that 1992
success went for £8000 (estimate £2500-3500). Mr Budd said: "She is
an absolute celebrity there now, probably much more than I could
ever have known." He has certainly sold Olympic golds before,
usually for something like £5000, and was as bold as he could be on
the estimates, but as soon as the news broke in Estonia it was
obvious they would go way beyond that.
Every lot went back to Estonia, although with multiple buyers,
some possibly bidding on behalf of institutions, it was unclear
what the ultimate destinations were. Samulae, now living in Spain,
was the vendor.
The sale was streamed back live to Estonia on TV and on the day,
for the online bidding, remarkably had over 5,000 visits from
Estonia alone, after a news website picked up the story.
Manchester United programme
Another sale highlight brought a feeling of déjà vu. In May last
year Graham Budd
auction record when £20,000 was paid for a an official one
penny match card from the 1909 FA Cup final between Manchester
United and Bristol City - United's first FA Cup final win. It had
quite rightly been catalogued as the only known example but when
that sale received coverage in the Irish Times it flushed
out another for the same match. Given that there were now two, this
other programme was given a £15,000-20,000 estimate and it
eventually sold for £16,000 to a UK collector; not one of purely
Manchester United items but a buyer who appreciates "really high
quality early memorabilia".
FA Cup winners
Also going for £16,000, just over the top estimate, was another
excellent early football item with strong FA Cup interest: the 1930
winner's medal awarded to Arsenal's David Jack. This was a good
price for an FA Cup medal, said Mr Budd, who hadn't seen many sell
above that. He does have the record for an FA Cup medal: "We sold
one for the very first final in 1872. That was a bit special,
selling for about £60,000 in November 2010. The PFA [Professional
Footballers' Association] bought that and it is way above anything
This 1930 medal had strong Arsenal appeal, from their first
major competition win, and added interest came because Jack was the
first player to score a goal in a Wembley FA Cup final - the first
goal in that stadium in fact - when winning the competition with
Bolton in 1923.
A shirt consigned by the Gunners' Perry Groves (the vendor, who
was in the room to see it sell) from the title-clinching win at
Liverpool on May 26, 1989, shot past the £4000-6000 estimate to
take £9000. Even though it was the sub's top, No.12, Groves was
sent on with quarter of an hour to go and was on the pitch when
Michael Thomas scored the last-gasp second Arsenal goal to achieve
the 2-0 result needed.
Arsenal's great rivals Spurs also had a strong result in the
Graham Budd sale. A selection of Cyril Knowles memorabilia made up
lots 527-611 and this section contributed just shy of £60,000 to
the overall total.
Knowles, who died at the age of just 50 in 1991, spent 11
seasons at Tottenham and until knee problems forced his retirement
in 1975 he picked up an FA Cup, two League Cups and a UEFA Cup. His
1967 FA Cup winner's medal was the stand-out lot, going for £14,000
on a £7000-9000 estimate. His 1972 UEFA Cup winner's medal sold for
£12,000 (estimate £6000-8000).
The memorabilia had passed to Knowles' widow and to her children
when she died. Their son was in the room for the sale.
"That total is very typical of Spurs really; they are just an
amazingly well-collected club," said Mr Budd. "As long as I've been
in the business, you cannot go wrong with Spurs. The depth of
collecting is quite staggering."
An Atlanta 1996 Olympic gold medal won by Nigeria's former
Chelsea player Celestine Babyaro sold for £10,000 (estimate
£5000-8000). Alex Stepney's 1977 Manchester United FA Cup final
winner's medal took a mid-estimate £8500. Phil Neal's Liverpool
1984 European Cup winner's medal went just over mid estimate at
Outside cycling and football, a notable result was the
mid-estimate £8500 paid for the Ferrari racesuit worn during the
German GP when seven-times World Champion Michael Schumacher won
his 89th out of 91 Formula 1 races. A McLaren-Mercedes racesuit
worn in the 2007 German Grand Prix by Lewis Hamilton went for a
A 2012 London Olympic Games bearer's torch, numbered 11 out of
12 of the Kelly Holmes signed torches, sold for £6000 (£3000-5000
estimate). Desert Orchid's 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner's sheet
made a just below mid-estimate £2800. An early international rugby
programme for the Scotland v England match played at Academical
Cricket Ground, Raeburn Place, Edinburgh, on March 19, 1881, for
only the third game in Calcutta Cup history took £4000
Mr Budd said the November 4-5 sale overall was his best for
years and felt the signs at all levels of the market were very
encouraging. Since the downturn began a typical hammer total had
been £250,000-350,000 but this one climbed up to £454,000.
"There was a really strong feeling, not just from me but those I
spoke to who came to the sale, that it was the best sporting sale
anyone had seen for a number of years and if it's indicative of the
market and the economy in general then we might have just turned
the corner and there is a strong feeling we have seen the worst of
it now," he added.
New bidders are appearing from all over the world, online and
otherwise, and the attendance in the room was really good, he said.
While previous recent sales held up very well at the top end, they
were "difficult and patchy" for the lower and middle market, but
all through the market is encouraging now: "I just get the feeling
that people are bidding with confidence again - if they want
something they are going to bid strongly for it."