“It’s a wonderful feeling”, he said after all 334 lots of vintage enamel advertising signs, vending machines, model trains and railwayana got away at the Spicers (20% buyer’s premium inc VAT) February 14 sale in Driffield.
The collection had been assembled to decorate the buffet and refreshment rooms of the Grade II-listed Bridlington station over 12 years by tenant John Sadler.
Sadler had hoped to sell the tourist destination-cafe – virtually unchanged since built in 1925 – intact, but it is to be redeveloped, hence the auction which had a top target of around £30,000 but which totalled more than £43,000.
Best-seller was a nameplate from an InterCity Executive Class 47 engine, York Intercity Control, numbered 47673. Removed in 1994, the 6ft 9in (2.06m) wide plate was pitched at £500-800 and sold for £2000 to a York buyer who worked on the InterCity line.
Oldest item was a late-19th century Great Northern Railway bullseye-lens handlamp with an applied plaque for Waltham, a station on the line between Grimsby and Louth where it was used by the employee who opened and closed the level crossing gates. Lacking its burner, it still tripled top hopes in selling to a Grimsby buyer at £180.
Local appeal going down memory line was obviously strong but Spicer remains puzzled by what impelled a double-estimate £120 bid from Monaco which took five railway caps and two enamelled armbands.
A number of pieces of railwayana and advertising signs were decorative repro pieces, often selling at two figures, but most lots were vintage, some by their nature – cigarette vending machines and advertising signs, for instance.
All in a name
Four enamel signs lost nothing in their appeal to four different buyers for the (presumably unintended at the time) lubricious double entendres.
Two advertised the wares of an estate agent and a leather merchant, each sharing their name with that of a male fowl. The first made a five-times-estimate £250, the second went six times above hopes at £500.
Two single-sided enamel signs measuring about 12in x 2ft (30 x 60cm) were pitched at £150-200. One advertising pet food, SPRATT’S ‘puts pussy into fine form!’, took £750 and the other, for tobacco company Churchman’s Noted Counter Shag ‘The best lasts longest’, made £420.