SINCE setting up on his own as Transporter Collectors Auctions eight years ago, Peter Card has enjoyed going by bike rather than car but the high point came on October 21 when a very rare 1869 model sold for a new high at his sale.
For most of his 25 years auctioneering, Mr Card handled rare cars with British Car Auctions, then Phillips and, until 2003, with Bonhams. Now he describes the vintage car world as 'a minefield' and mounts biannual auctions devoted to bicycles and three others offering motoring memorabilia and literature.
The TCA sales have become well enough known for a Winchester collector to consult him about an offer for the iron-framed 'Improved Bicycle' Vélocipède by Peyton & Peyton of Birmingham. Propelled by a treadle system, it is one of only two in private hands and Mr Card suggested he could achieve rather more than the owner had been offered.
At the Reading rooms of Thimbleby Shorland (IIminster-based, Mr Card rents other auction rooms for his sales) it was estimated at £18,000-24,000 but bidding from America, Germany, the Netherlands and a Scottish enthusiast pushed it to £39,000 before the hammer fell to a South of France museum.
While most vintage bikes can be had for three figure- and low four-figure sums, five-figure prices for rarities are not unknown, but the £39,000 was, said Mr Card, a world record for any vintage bike this century.
Why the qualification? Because during the legendary spending spree of Qatar's Sheikh Saud Al Farsi one of his purchases at Phillips back in August 1997 was an 1880s Raleigh bike.
Mr Card recalls that it was clearly catalogued as being made-up (the pedals, for instance, were 1920s repro) and, in his opinion, over-estimated at £3000-4000.
The sheikh, making a rare personal appearance in the room came up against a determined American but kept on bidding until he secured the bike at £97,000 - a freak record that's likely to last.
The buyers premium was 17%