Lord Archer’s collection had been assembled through the specialist London dealer Chris Beetles with the author and former Conservative MP acquiring works ranging in date from the ‘Golden Age’ of British caricature in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, right up to the present day.
With the sale benefitting number of educational charities, the estimates were not deemed excessive and many lots duly exceeded predictions.
In a Sotheby’s promotional video Lord Archer spoke of his admiration for the cartoons of Peter Brooks of The Times, despite their opposing views on Mrs Thatcher. “He had me as a bug, ‘Creepycrawlus Irritatus’,” said Archer, “and I have to say that, on balance, I agree with him”.
The sale itself was billed by the auctioneers as “one of the most significant specialist collections of original cartoons in private hands”. It was largely focused on British and American politics, especially the ‘big beasts’ such as Churchill, Macmillan, Kennedy, Reagan, Nixon, Heath and Thatcher, as well as earlier historical figures like Gladstone and Disraeli.
Sixty-four different cartoonists were represented, including major names such as James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, George Cruikshank, Sir Max Beerbohm and Sir David Low, but also some of the finest living cartoonists including Peter Brookes, Gerald Scarfe, Ralph Steadman and Matthew Pritchett (aka ‘Matt’ of The Daily Telegraph).
Below are the three works that led the auction.