1. Early tennis tournaments
A Tennis Match at Manchester is a very rare print marking one of the first British tennis tournaments. The design features various real tennis and lawn tennis champions of the day who participated in the Manchester Tennis & Racquet Club’s 1883 Tennis Handicap.
The club had opened in 1876, with two rackets courts but soon after moved to Blackfriars Road, Salford, where a tennis court, a rackets court and a bowling alley were built. The site (it survives today) held the Amateur Rackets Championship from 1878 to 1882, and the Amateur Tennis Championship from 1883-87.
To the centre of this poster is a portrait of the 1883 tournament winner BN Akroyd. Relatively little is known about Akroyd although he was a sportsman of some renowned. Like most ‘tennis’ players of his day he played a number of racquet sports – rackets, real tennis and the relatively new game of lawn tennis – and is also listed a batter for the Gentlemen of Yorkshire cricket team.
Crucial to his fame, however, is his participation in the world's first official lawn tennis tournament. His name features among the 22 players who paid a guinea to enter the draw for the first Wimbledon Championships in 1877. He won his first-round match against G Nichol but lost in the second to William Marshall. Spencer Gore beat Marshall comfortably in the final to become the first ever Wimbledon champion.
The poster was sold at sporting specialist Graham Budd Auctions in London on June 6 together with a white metal plaque that once adorned Akroyd’s winner’s trophy. The engraving reads Manchester Tennis & Racquet Week 1883 Tennis Handicap 1st Prize won by BN Akroyd. Although modestly estimated at £120-150, these rare survivors from the early years of tournament tennis sold at £4000.
2. David Bowie photo
These two archival prints of David Bowie dressed in a striped bodysuit he wore during the 1973 Aladdin Sane tour were part of Chiswick Auctions sale of 19th and 20th Century Photographs on May 31.
Titled Watch that Man II & IV, the prints were taken by Masayoshi Sukita (b.1938) during a famous photo shoot held in New York a few days before Bowie played the Radio City Music Hall on February 14, 1973. The session featured three avant garde Japanese creatives, with Yacco-San working as the stylist and the clothes provided by the fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto. The original outfit is today part of the David Bowie Archive, acquired earlier this year by the Victoria & Albert Museum. These prints, each signed by Masayoshi Sukita and numbered 3/10 were guided at £4000-6000 and sold at £5500.
Despite its many shortcomings in terms of accuracy and reliability, the flintlock Land Pattern smoothbore musket – or Brown Bess to give it its more familiar nickname - remained in use from 1722 until the introduction of the percussion cap in 1838. This was the single-shot weapon that built the British Empire and (key to its collecting appeal) was the gun used by both sides in the American Wars of Independence.
The Bess was made in several patterns and received many incremental changes in design across its century of service.
The Long Land Pattern gun offered by antique arms and militaria specialists Wallis & Wallis in Lewes on June 6 was the 1756 pattern with a 4ft 3in (1.2m) barrel. In addition to crowned proof marks the lock has the name Farmer and the date of issue 1758. James Farmer was (although a Quaker and a pacifist) among the most prolific of the Birmingham gun makers in this period, producing musket locks from the 1740s. Farmer later partnered with Samuel Galton to form the firm of Farmer & Galton that also did a significant amount of Board of Ordnance business.
Another appeal of this gun (in generally good period condition with its original socket bayonet with leather scabbard) was the engraved letters XX Rgt to the barrel, suggesting it had seen action with the 20th Regiment of Foot (1751-82). ‘The Two Tens’ fought in the Seven Years War and in the American Revolutionary Wars, earning honour at the Battle of Minden (1759) and the relief of Quebec (1776) before later surrendering at Saratoga.
Guns of this type are increasingly sought after and harder to find. Some good examples with provenance have made close to $50,000 in the US. Estimated at £1500-2500, this gun offered in East Sussex brought £13,500.
4. Angler picture
A collection of fishing paintings made up the opening 79 lots in the sale at Railtons in Wooler, Northumberland on June 3-4. Rupert Watson learned to fish in the small streams of Durham and Northumberland, and despite having spent most of his working life in Kenya, retained a deep affinity for the British countryside and expeditions in pursuit of fish. The collection, built up over 40 years but recently in storage, featured over 100 waterscapes, fish studies, and fishing scenes in a range of mediums. This watercolour of an angler in an evening water landscape is signed and dated 1891 for AC Stannus. Born in Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, Anthony Carey Stannus (1830-1919) was a genre, naval and landscape painter. Throughout his career he travelled extensively - he worked variously as an art teacher in Dowlais in Wales, as an artist in the army of Maximillian in Mexico, and as a correspondent for the Illustrated London News - but returned to Belfast in 1882. Much of his work sells in the low hundreds but this attractive image with the addition of an angler took 10 times its estimate at £2200.
5. Paul Nash lithograph
The sale of Prints and Multiples at Bonhams on June 2 included a rare First World War lithograph by Paul Nash (1889-1946). Void of War 1918 is a pared-down depiction of a shell-pocked landscape and shattered trees with duckboard angling its way across the composition. The uncompromising image was famously used as the design for a poster advertising an exhibition of Nash's work held at the Leicester Galleries, in 1918. This example printed on an 18in x 2ft (45 x 60cm) sheet of brown wove paper is signed and dated in pencil and is thought to be a proof impression aside from the numbered edition of 12. Estimated at what was a modest £1000-1500, it took £13,000.