His works come for sale with some regularity, with most sold for relatively small sums of around £50- 200 each. For example, the typical Tomkin watercolour Wind Against the Tide (he exhibited a picture of that title at the Royal Academy in 1909) sold for £60 at Jacobs & Hunt of Liss on January 28.
However, Tomkin’s biography also records a night on September 2, 1916, when he depicted the shooting down of a German SL11 airship over Cuffley, Hertfordshire – the first to crash on British soil. He painted the scene of its blazing remains from his garden in Walthamstow – a sketch now held at the RAF Museum in Hendon alongside a souvenir scrap taken from the wreckage.
These First World War scenes are now considered Tomkin’s most important work and they have a commercial appeal way above late Victorian and Edwardian marines.
The sale at Dominic Winter (20% buyer’s premium) in South Cerney on March 9 featured the artist’s Searchlights during a Zeppelin raid over London, dated September 8, 1915.
On the same night, Aldersgate in the City of London was targeted by the Zeppelin commander Heinrich Mathy, a raid that killed 22 people and inflicted serious damage. The 8 x 12in (20 x 30cm) watercolour and bodycolour scene was estimated at £300-500, but it took £5600.