1. First appearance of Roy of the Rovers – £2200
The first edition of Tiger – The Sport and Adventure Picture Story Weekly published in September 1954 also marked the first appearance of Roy of the Rovers. The comic strip footballer who played for Melchester Rovers was created by the author Frank S Pepper although he ultimately only wrote four instalments because of his commitments to another of his characters Captain Condor.
Instead Pepper’s role was taken up by the strip's first artist Joe Colquhoun who used the pen-name Stewart Colwyn.
This copy of Tiger No.1, with Roy Race providing the cover story, appeared for sale at Comic Book Auctions in an online sale that closed on August 29. In good condition (it had some small tears to the cover margins), it sold well above expectations of £60-80 to bring £2200.
2. Polychrome stucco group – £15,000
A note to the back of this 23in (58cm) polychrome stucco figure group of the Madonna and Child states it was identified by a ‘Professor Pollack’ as coming from ‘the workshop of Jacopo della Guercia circa 1450’. It adds that the group had been a gift to a member of the vendor’s family from D’Arcy Osborne, the 12th Duke of Leeds (1884-1964) who served as ambassador to the Holy See from 1936-47.
‘Professor Pollack’ in Rome at this period must mean the connoisseur-dealer Lodovico Pollak, author of the deluxe Catalogue of Italian Bronzes in the Barsanti Collection, Rome, 1922.
Scholarship has evolved and when offered by Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh as part of the firm’s Five Centuries sale on September 1-2 it was attributed to the workshop of an artist from the next generation of Florentine sculptors.
Cataloguer Dr Charles Avery, former sculpture specialist at the V&A, suggested a close link to Antonio Rossellino (1427-79). Several of his Madonnas have survived in marble: the fact that this sculpture is made of plaster implies the existence of an ’original’ in terracotta or marble, perhaps now lost.
Estimated at £10,000-15,000 it found a buyer at the top estimate.
3. Symbolist watercolour – £7500
On August 28 Glasgow firm Great Western Auctions offered items from the estate of curator, gallerist and writer William Hardie (1941-2021). He worked at Christie’s Scottish picture department between 1977 and 1984 and later traded as William Hardie Fine Art in Glasgow.
Among the best performing lots was this small 13 x 20cm monochrome watercolour by Dundee artist George Dutch Davidson (1879-1900). In the context of Scotland in the 1890s he was strikingly original and his early death at the age of 21 removed a talented artist from the Symbolist movement.
Some of that talent can be glimpsed in this work c.1898-99, based on the colours and patterns of Celtic art that looks forward to Art Deco. A rare offering, it was estimated at £300-500 but sold at £7500.
4. ‘Constable’ cloud study
The sale at Keys in Aylsham on September 1-3 included this enigmatic 5 x 8in (12 x 20cm) oil on board titled Morning Cloud before the Sun. The painting has long been thought to be by John Constable (1776-1837).
First sold from the collection of Hugh G Constable, the artist's grandson, in 1899 it became part of the Sir Michael Sadleir Collection (1861-1943) and was sold as part of the estate of Sir Bruce Ingram (1877-1963) at Sotheby's in 1964. Then, catalogued as an autograph work, it was bought by a member of the vendor’s family for £550.
When offered for sale on September 2 it was estimated at a speculative £6000-8000 and found a buyer at £6200 – a very modest price for a Constable oil but a decent price for a painting without a firm attribution.
It is possible, given the family history, the work was by one of Constable’s children (at least five of seven drew or painted) with Lionel Bicknell Constable (1828-87), who taught himself landscape painting by studying his late father’s work, a possible candidate. Until the late 1970s, many of the works now attributed to Lionel, were mistakenly thought to have been painted by his father.
5. ‘Carry on Cowboy’ poster – £1400
Most original British quad posters from the series of Carry On films can be bought for relatively modest sums in the £50-300 price bracket but there are a number of rarities.
A collection of 23 Carry On posters were offered at Ewbank’s in Surrey on August 30 including three of the hardest-to-find images. All made four-figure sums.
A poster for Carry On Constable (1960), the fourth film in the series, with a design featuring four characters in police helmets taking a shower, sold at £1100 while the classic poster featuring artwork by Tom Chantrell for Carry On Cabby (1963), the film in which Sid James made his debut, took £1700.
There were three versions of the UK poster for Carry on Cowboy (1965), the 11th in the series of 31 films, with the rarest and most desirable again by Chantrell. It sold at £1400.