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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Guided missals

09 July 2003

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

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.

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.

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?

Incomplete – but scarcity triumphs

17 June 2003

The combination of a single-owner collection in a specialist niche corner of the market with a not over-large and mostly market-fresh selection of realistically estimated material were the keys to the warm reception that greeted Sotheby’s (20/12% buyer’s premium) sale of Scientific instruments in their Olympia rooms on May 28. All bar 15 of the 155 lots, just short of 90 per cent (92 per cent by value) changed hands for a total of £262,350.

On the eve of the battle of Trafalgar

11 June 2003

Greg Martin is a name synonymous with the finest and the most spectacularly expensive of American firearms. In this respect the June 16 Greg Martin Auctions sale will live up to expectations with a rare 1849 Colt revolver, but most British attention will be focused on a group of Nelson memorabilia which includes Vice Admiral Collingwood’s copy of Nelson’s standing orders for battle, drawn up on the Victory on October 9-10, 1805 and signed Nelson & Brontë.

When it wasn’t quite enough to be-in-time

10 June 2003

Canadian-based eBay seller gstark didn’t need to include the words “extremely rare” in his auction listing for a jade green Sony TR-55 transistor radio. Fifteen ardent bidders already knew that.

When pen was mightier than sword

10 June 2003

Christie’s have helped negotiate the sale to the Victoria and Albert Museum of the Castlereagh gold inkstand created by Paul Storr and Philip Rundell for the British diplomat Viscount Castlereagh (1769-1822) in 1818.

Early issue Hobbits have a £10,300 day out in Hagley

03 June 2003

Apparently consigned for sale by a local lady who had no idea of its commercial potential – it had been acquired as holiday reading when she was a young girl – a 1937 first edition of The Hobbit was sold at £10,300 in a general antiques sale held by Fieldings in Hagley, Worcester-shire, on April 26.

Mouton-Rothschild, the gift for a ‘friend’

30 May 2003

Clearly Tony Blair would be best advised to take round a bottle of Wooldings ’94, rather than Mouton ’89 the next time he pops over to the Palace for dinner. As has been widely reported in the media, the Prime Minister recently received half a case of Château Mouton-Rothschild’s 1989 vintage as a 50th birthday present from President Jacques Chirac.