The collection at Toovey’s (24.5% buyer’s premium) on July 1 included many Crystal Palace examples and related mostly to the 1930s. The full list, however, revealed a wide range of diverse programmes – many pre-war and for relatively obscure non-league teams of that era from the London area.
Against an estimate of £60-100, the group sparked a bidding battle that ended only at £8000.
Auctioneer Nick Toovey said: “There wasn’t one particular programme that got people’s attention, more the quantity, condition and mixture from this pre-war period.
“The underbidder rated the PO v Wimbledon programme as one of the best. The successful phone bidder said to my colleague before bidding commenced that ‘this is going to get bloody’ and that he had intended to bid only half that after successfully securing the lot.
“The lot was taken in off the road by a colleague with a covering estimate that I never got round to adjusting. I always had high hopes for the lot but hadn’t expected the collection to reach that price.”
The PO (Post Office) Engineers played in the London League, a competition that was held in the capital and surrounding areas of south-east England from 1896-1964, and also took part in the Surrey League. The club is thought to have been formed in 1932.
Five PO programmes were included in the lot, such as Sutton United Vs PO Engineers, 1937 Surrey Charity Shield Final.
As a flavour of what also tempted collectors, among the enticing and rare pre-war, non-league matches represented were Casuals v Ilford 1936 FA Amateur Cup Final; Romford vs Erith & Belvedere 1937-8 Amateur Cup Semi Final Replay; and Dulwich Hamlet vs Tooting & Mitcham 1937-8 Surrey Senior Cup Final. Other rarities included the England v Scotland Amateur International 1939 at Dulwich Hamlet FC.
With tickets too
Another collection of football programmes to surge over estimate came up at Stamford, Lincolnshire, saleroom Batemans (16.677% buyer’s premium) on July 4.
Also containing ticket stubs and related ephemera, they featured an England v Scotland international match programme, FA Cup and league games from the 1930s-70s.
Greg Bateman, managing director and valuer, said there was “huge interest leading up to the sale with dozens of condition report requests hinting unequivocally that it would sell very well. Pre-bidding via thesaleroom.com had hit £1050 on the Friday evening before the sale day.”
Multiple absentee bids, two phone lines, and “fevered internet bidding” pushed the price up to £2600 against an estimate of £100-200. Bateman added: “The vendors were bowled over with such a figure and found another similar collection that they decided to consign for our August 1 sale.”
Many of the programmes included corresponding ticket stubs. FA Cup final programmes included 1935 Sheffield Wednesday v West Bromwich Albion; 1937 Preston North End v Sunderland with ticket; 1949 Leicester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers with ticket; 1950 Arsenal v Liverpool, 1952 Arsenal V Newcastle United.
The 1976 Manchester United v Southampton FA Cup final example came with a Bobby Stokes autograph on a loose scrap of lined paper – he scored the winning goal for the Saints.
The England v Scotland April 9, 1932, match programme was offered with three ticket stubs for a row of seats at that game.
In terms of what generated demand, Bateman added: “We felt it was a very good average programme value rather than a single individual stand-out piece. While in hindsight offering the collection in smaller groups might have been sensible, I am certain that the cache of a mixed group like that pushed the price to beyond what we could have achieved if sold off in smaller lots. There was a great deal of competition for it.
“The ‘best’ bits, however, were likely the 1932 England v Scotland programme and three ticket stubs, 1951 England v Scotland programme and ticket stub, and the pre-war FA Cup tie programmes and ticket stubs. Condition overall was good which certainly helped.”
The group went to one of the phone bidders, who had told Batemans when booking the line that they “did not want to let this one go”. Bateman said: “True to their word, they stuck it out and saw off some serious competition.”
Just the ticket for a double
The first and only double in the 137-year history of Tottenham Hotspur is commemorated in a lot coming up at Hansons on August 19: a set of match tickets from 22 fixtures in that 1960-61 season.
It includes a ticket for the game against Sheffield Wednesday on April 17, 1961, in which Spurs clinched the First Division title.
Hansons’ head of sports memorabilia department David Wilson-Turner says “it’s rare to see such a fantastic collection as football tickets are usually discarded”.