'The Winner', a rare enamel sign for British Petroleum, sold for £10,400 at Peter Francis.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Although in poor condition – it has significant losses to the lower half – the 3ft 6in x 2ft 4in (1.05m x 70cm) item, offered for sale by Peter Francis on December 18 with an estimate of £1000-2000, is considered something of a ‘holy grail’ object for collectors of early motoring signs.

Made in the 1920s, the evocative image depicts a racing car passing the finishing line at speed with the legend beneath reading The Winner BP The British Petrol.

Record holder

The Winner advertising sign was produced for British Petroleum in three sizes, of which this is the largest.

Only a handful of others have been seen at auction including a superbly preserved example which sold for £28,000 (plus 15% buyer’s premium) at the Canterbury Auction Galleries in 2005 – still considered an auction record for a British enamel advertising sign.

Another example in decent condition sold for £8000 at Stride & Son of Chichester in 2016.