1. David Bowie police photo – £3800
Original photos of David Bowie often come up at auction but few of them portray him in the same style as the example on original Kodak paper offered at Surrey saleroom Ewbank’s on July 15.
In 1976 Bowie was arrested in Rochester, New York, on marijuana possession charges with Iggy Pop and two others. They were asked to attend the police station the following day.
Ewbank’s says: “The vendor’s cousin’s husband was a gentleman called Scott. He was the officer who fingerprinted and photographed David Bowie. He gave it to the vendor personally as a wedding present as he knew he was a Bowie fan. The vendor has been in possession of this photo for 46 years and has safely kept it hidden away.”
All four were held in custody before being released on bail but it seems charges were dropped after Bowie pleaded not guilty and a grand jury stage went no further.
Estimated at £1000-1500, it sold for £3800 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).
2. Only Fools and Horses prop – £4400
Other non-music-related entertainment memorabilia highlights of the Ewbank's auction included a bottle of spring water which made the kind of hammer price usually chalked up by fine wines or spirits: £4400.
The name Peckham Spring Water gives the game away, however. The 31cm glass bottle was a prop from Only Fools and Horses, the British TV sitcom starring David Jason. With Del Boy and Rodney broke in 1992, they had come up with a scheme/scam to ‘discover’ a spring on grandad’s allotment. The source was in fact tap water.
It was bought by a private buyer for £4400 against an estimate of £1200-1800.
3. Mark E Smith shirt – £3800
A men’s shirt by ‘Year Of’ (L) owned and worn by Mark E Smith of The Fall, c. late 1980s, was offered at Merseyside auction house Omega on June 28 estimated at £1000-1500. It sold for £3800 (plus 28% buyer’s premium inc VAT).
Catalogued as being sold ‘with cigarette burns, age wear’, it featured in the 1987 music video for There's a Ghost in My House.
It was one of a number of lots consigned by the family of Smith. Another shirt with ‘diamond’ fastenings made in the US by ‘Michael Seroy’, owned and worn by Smith including on stage probably around the mid-late 1980s, sold on low estimate at £1000.
Mark E Smith (1957-2018) formed post-punk band The Fall after going to the June 1976 Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester and was its leader until his death.
He was described by Tim Burgess of fellow Manchester band the Charlatans as “a true uncompromising musical maverick. A genius, a curmudgeon and someone whose company it was an honour to share.”
During the 40-year existence of The Fall – which included 32 albums – he hired and fired 66 musicians.
Dan Hampson, auction manager at Omega, told the Manchester Evening News: “Mark E Smith is one of the most iconic figures in Manchester’s famous music history. His unwavering belief in himself and the Fall project and his legendary intolerance of anyone (ie many former bandmembers) who didn’t get with the programme made him a legend in his own time, and he’s very much missed by those who appreciated his uniqueness.”
4. The Smiths' original demo tape – £14,000
From Mark E Smith to The Smiths… one of the best performers above estimate in Bonhams’ Live In Session: Property From The John Peel Archive auction on June 14 was an original demo tape.
It was offered with a £500-700 estimate and came with a typed letter from the band dated February 4, 1983, introducing the band and tracklist, signed in black ink The Smiths with contact details for Glad Hips Music.
The letter describes The Smiths’ first 45 being released in the coming weeks – with a studio version of Hand In Glove and a live version of Handsome Devil (a copy of which also featured as a separate lot in the auction). Of the eight tracks, seven went on to be played by John Peel as singles or as part of The Peel Sessions. The only track listed which didn't receive airtime by Peel was What Do You See In Her?.
The unlabelled TDK cassette tape in plastic case and letter took £14,000 (plus 27.5% buyer’s premium).
The test pressing of the debut single Hand In Glove/Handsome Devil, 1979, sold for £2200 (guide £400-600). Peel first played Hand In Glove on German radio, modestly describing the track as “perfectly adequate, that, as a debut single”. After further plays on BFBS and on The John Peel Show, the single featured in the top 10 of that year's Festive Fifty.
The 200-lot sale, which offered highlights from Peel’s personal archive – including radio-played test pressings from landmark musicians, rare records, personal correspondence and memorabilia – attracted global attention and fierce bidding, both online and in the room. The top lot was a test pressing of the single Anarchy In The UK/I Wanna Be Me by The Sex Pistols, which sold at a hammer price of £16,000 against an estimate of £6000-8000.
5. Signed Beatles LP 1963 – £8100
In July 1963, before they went global, The Beatles started their British tour by spending six consecutive nights at the Odeon in the seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare.
During this time, the town became the Fab Four’s home and many famous photographs of the band were taken on the beach and various locations. Pete Brownett had just got his first job as a photographer, and one of his first assignments was to photograph the Beatles.
He managed to obtain all four Beatles signatures on the Thursday of that week, on an LP cover for the 1963 Please, Please Me, PMC 1202, signed in blue ink.
Obtained by the current vendor by descent, it made £8100 (guide £5000-6000) at Stourbridge auction house Fieldings on July 21-22.
6. Sony Walkman – £160
What seems like a million years ago, before the smartphone, before the iPod/MP3 player, before the portable CD player, came the Walkman.
Sold for a within-estimate £160 at Glasgow on July 21 was a Sony TPS-L2 Walkman cassette player, cased, with headphones, charger and a double cassette (if the buyer got rid of their tapes years ago we really hope they like The Greatest Ever Rock ‘n’ Roll Mix…).
According to designmuseum.org: “The Walkman was first created because Sony co-founder Masaru Ibuka wanted to be able to listen to music on long flights. The first model of Sony Walkman, the TPS-L2, was released in 1979, and it proved to be a huge hit.”
It adds: “The Sony Walkman cassette player revolutionised the way that we listen to music. It enabled people to create soundtracks to their lives in ways that hadn't been possible before. The fact that you could use your Walkman anywhere changed that; music had never been so personal. It was the first in a long line of portable audio players.”