The term ‘collectables’ (or collectibles) encompasses a vast range of items in fields as diverse as arms, armour and militaria, bank notes, cameras, coins, entertainment and sporting memorabilia, stamps, taxidermy, wines and writing equipment.

Some collectables are antiques, others are classed as retro, vintage or curios but all are of value to the collector. In any of these fields, buyers seek out rarities and items with specific associations.

Art Deco Italian style, where sex appeal is the extra ingredient

31 July 2003

THE response to the Art Deco style in Italy was different from that of the other Northern European countries – often humorous, sometimes surreal and occasionally bordering on the kitsch. These are certainly characteristics of the earthenware figures of Enrico and Elena Scavini’s Lenci factory that playfully combine hippo-riding brunettes with coquettish blondes climbing skyscrapers.

In tune with a Kroon in June

31 July 2003

The two days of June 24 and 25 were occupied by a general sale (1895 lots) hosted by Dix Noonan Webb. The vast collection of British coins has been dispersed by Spink and latterly DNW at intervals over about the last decade. I was particularly struck by the English royal arms on the reverse of a very nice example of the gold Edward VI sovereign. A sensible estimate of £4000-5000 was suggested. It made £5800.

With you, Sir!

24 July 2003

Coming up in new York: A large complement of classic American posters by James Montgomery Flagg are featured among the WWI and WWII images in Swann Galleries’ annual summer sale of Vintage Posters in the Big Apple on August 6.

Subastas Segre sale

24 July 2003

Subastas Segre (16% buyer’s premium) held their monthly sale from May 20 to 22. In the picture catalogue, top price was the double-estimate €30,000 (£22,060) for a complete set of Goya’s Caprichos, catalogued as First Edition but not in ideal condition. A 3ft 3in (1m) square abstract oil on canvas of 1982 by Fernando Zobel (1942-1984), whose work is highly regarded in Spain, made €23,700 (£17,425).

Downing The Don

24 July 2003

It is one of the best known moments in sport. Donald Bradman, batsman without peer, arrives at the crease in his final test match at the Oval on August 14 1948, requiring just four runs for a Test career average of 100.

Boxcar silly! Export package drives up prices

24 July 2003

THERE is no getting away from the appeal of railways which were a major feature in one of two Midlands toy sales in June. The June 18 sale in Rugby held by toys specialists Vectis (15% buyer’s premium) set two modest records among a collection of Hornby items starting with a mint and boxed group of four 00 gauge petrol tankers.

US welcome in Quimper

15 July 2003

Quimper collectors will no doubt recognise this plate as quite a rarity. Manufactured by Henriot, c.1917, the design depicts Uncle Sam offering his support to the French people within a Stars and Stripes border.

Sterling chance to buy Steiff seized by the UK collectors

15 July 2003

Dollar rate deters American teddy bear enthusiasts: Daniel Agnew, the teddy bear specialist at Christie’s South Kensington (17.5/10% buyer’s premium), felt the market was a bit softer than usual for the first of his bi-annual teddy sales on June 10.

Guided missals

09 July 2003

Illuminated Manuscripts and their Makers, by Rowan Watson, published by V&A Publications. ISBN 1851773851 £30hb

Nelson on Napoleon

09 July 2003

With preparations getting underway for the Nelson tricentenary celebrations in 2005, autograph collector and postal historian Gavin Littaur felt the time was right to sell an autograph letter, signed ‘Nelson & Bronte’, sent to William Churchey thanking him for his good wishes for the continuance of the peace.

White mischief

09 July 2003

d?f[lungu in Africa: Art from the Colonial Period, 1840-1940, by Michael Stevenson and Michael Graham-Stewart. ISBN 0620304626. Available from Thomas Heneage Art Bookshop, 42 Duke Street, London SW1Y 6DJ Tel: 020 7930 9223 Price £30hb and £22sb

Really Smart Cars

09 July 2003

A Rolls-Royce & Bentley sale held by Bonhams at Towcester Racecourse on June 21 included a number of sales brochures, catalogues, handbooks, manuals, etc. amongst the automobilia.

A sculptural speciality

30 June 2003

Apart from their specialist commemorative medal sale, Morton & Eden (15% buyer’s premium) busied themselves with a general 1025-lot sale on May 21 which made a total of £592,877. This fine result was coupled with a reasonably small failure rate of just 12 per cent. This is about the norm for more specialised events but hard to achieve in a general sale.

Posters from Hassall’s studio are so bracing

30 June 2003

John Hassell (1868-1948) produced designs for some 600 to 700 posters – including one for the British Vacuum Cleaner Company depicting a lecherous bit of machinery chasing a nubile parlour-maid – but by far his best known work is Skegness Is So Bracing.

Turnabout for Nelson and a Voltaire face…

30 June 2003

There has been considerable reportage on the subject of commemorative medals at auction recently, and the considerable museum participation in auction sales. So spare a thought for the dealer who issues fixed-price lists. Two fine English fixed-price catalogues have recently thudded through my letterbox.

Climb aboard the movie memorabilia bandwagon!

27 June 2003

NEW York’s Posteritati Movie Posters, among the world’s leading specialists in the field, hold an exhibition of vintage posters from the MGM musicals of the 1930s to 1950s at their Manhattan gallery throughout July.

Fuelling the bidding on lighter...a pheasant in a fish tank

24 June 2003

THE series of chunky Perspex and silver-plated table lighters made by Dunhill in the inter-war years are always welcome auction visitors. The majority depict aquatic subjects – they are sometimes called fish tank lighters – and usually sell in the £300-600 bracket so it was something of a surprise to see the example right offered at Dorking, auctioneers P.F. Windibank (10% buyer’s premium) sell at £2800 on May 24.

Walking the dog – and other canes

19 June 2003

Nineteenth century walking sticks, canes, umbrellas and riding crops were one of John Stewart Parry’s favourite collecting areas – he had more than 180 of them in myriad different forms from dogs’ heads to seashells. Offered on the fifth and final day of Bruton Knowles’ sale in May– the best of the series in terms of atmosphere, said auctioneer Simon Chorley – they all sold, albeit at auction rather than retail levels.

Wish you were there?

19 June 2003

POSTCARD collecting is believed to be second only to philately as the world’s most popular collecting hobby so here is early warning of what is guaranteed to be a very popular event, The Picture Postcard Show 2003 which will be held at the Royal Horticultural Halls, Westminster, London SW1 from August 27 to 30.

The next stop is a record

19 June 2003

To you and me it’s just a 1950s enamel station sign but to railwayana enthusiasts – and to Gloucestershire Worcestershire Railwayana Auctions who are currently selling it at their first private treaty auction – this is quite simply the most desirable ‘totem’ ever to come on the market. So what’s all the fuss about?