The term ‘collectables’ (or collectibles) encompasses a vast range of items in fields as diverse as arms, armour and militaria, bank notes, cameras, coins, entertainment and sporting memorabilia, stamps, taxidermy, wines and writing equipment.

Some collectables are antiques, others are classed as retro, vintage or curios but all are of value to the collector. In any of these fields, buyers seek out rarities and items with specific associations.

The king's harp maker plucks at Norfolk bidders’ purse strings

16 March 2004

LARGELY unknown outside the world of harpists, the name of the celebrated Dublin maker John Egan is guaranteed to tug at the heart and purse strings of aficionados when one of his harps makes a rare appearance for sale as this one, right, did at the February 25 collectors sale held by Aylsham auctioneers Keys (15% buyer’s premium).

Tackling the export issue

16 March 2004

THERE was quite a lot of frenzied activity at Bonhams (aka Glendinings) in the days running up to their sale on February 24.

Bears, mammoths and trilobites get enhanced

16 March 2004

NATURAL history auctions usually throw up some fascinating lots, from bugs in amber to fossilised fish, from meteorites to a range of precious and semi-precious rocks, and the January 11 sale held by I.M. Chait, in association with David Herskowitz, was no exception.

From Britains to Bond, selling toys at the treble

09 March 2004

THERE was plenty to tempt toy collectors in the provinces in late January and early February with over 1000 wide-ranging lots catering to all tastes and offered in three different sales.

Sun shines on Stuttgart…

09 March 2004

FINE weather helped the 43rd Stuttgart Antiquarian Book Fair welcome around 6000 visitors, up 20 per cent up on 2003, to the city’s Württemberg Kunstverein from January 23-25. The fair, staged by the Verband Deutscher Antiquäre (German Antiquarian Bookdealers’ Association) since 1962, is the largest of its kind in Germany – the 96 exhibitors included dealers from Switzerland, Austria, France, Israel and the UK (Bernard Shapero from London).

Titanic: the Channel Crossing

09 March 2004

IN April 1912, Miss Lenox-Conyngham was travelling with three relatives from Southampton to Cherbourg, but though this was just a short channel crossing, she decided that it was worthwhile dashing off a letter to a nephew on the ship’s notepaper.

Bidders count the rising cost of love…

09 March 2004

BONHAMS Knightsbridge (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) Science and Marine outing on February 25 was hardly awash with blockbuster entries, but their disappointment at not selling John Gould’s cased display of humming birds (estimated to fetch £30,000-50,000 but bought in at £12,500 despite pre-sale collector interest) was somewhat allayed by the healthy bid placed for this Victorian octagonal double-cased shell Valentine (shown here).

£14,000 bidding duel shows that Colts are still a top draw

09 March 2004

FOR arms collectors, there is a magic to the name Colt and when a rare model in fine condition comes on to the market success is almost given.

A true romance worthy of Cervantes

09 March 2004

SOLD at Sotheby’s (20% buyer’s premium) for £10,500 on December 9 was a copy in modern limp vellum of the Epigrammata of Joan Latinus, a work that praises John of Austria for his recent victory over the Turks at Lepanto.

Irish firsts: the word is heard and a “a terrible beauty is born”

26 February 2004

The title page of Hugh Maccaghwell’s On the Sacrament of Penance which, printed at Louvain in 1618, is recognised as “the first original work by a living author in Irish”. The few works printed in Irish that preceded it were the Bible, liturgical texts or translations of the works of others, but this was one of five works produced in the years 1614-18 at a press operated by the Irish Franciscans at St. Anthony’s in Louvain – the first press to print and promote Irish writing in the vernacular.

A year full of promise on the books front

18 February 2004

2004 is shaping up well for arts publishing, and publishers of books which cover the genre also reported excellent sales last year, particularly in the run-up to Christmas. Here, the Antiques Trade Gazette takes a look at some of the books on offer this year, many of which will be reviewed.

When Pompey and Wolves knew better days...

13 February 2004

Portsmouth are just hanging on in the Premiership at present, but they too have had their glory days, and in a December 10 sale held by Nesbits of neighbouring Southsea, this programme (right) for the last pre-war FA Cup Final of 1939, in which they beat Wolves 4-1, was sold for £400 (a ticket for that game made £135) and another for the 1934 final, in which they had been beaten 2-1 by Manchester City, was bid to £450.

Card rarities that come with a wealth warning

13 February 2004

CIGARETTE CARDS AND POSTCARDS: The cigarette and postcard auction is one of those corners of the collectables market where sales are keenly awaited by a specialist clientele and where very little tends to get left without a buyer.

Winning hearts and minds with a Valentine rent-a-sonnet

13 February 2004

FAR from the traditional image of the stuffy bookseller, Mayfair-based Biblion, who deal in antiquarian books and first editions out of Davies Mews, W1, are celebrating St. Valentine’s Day with what can best be described as a sonnet-o-gram.

Book auctions at Grays

09 February 2004

FROM April London will have a new specialist book auctioneer. Biblion is already a major name in the antiquarian book world through the group shop at Grays Antique Market W1, where the stock of over 100 dealers is on offer and their website,, which carries the inventory of 500 booksellers.

A real dish for a lover of Lenci

06 February 2004

Although a £12,000 oil by Arthur Spooner (1873-1962) was the most expensive entry in the sale at Derby held by Bamfords (15% buyer’s premium) on December 9-10, perhaps the most eye-catching lot was this Lenci dish, right.

High level bidding for low level flyers

05 February 2004

Immortalised on the silver screen by the 1954 film The Dam Busters, Operation Chastise is remembered as one of World War II’s most spectacular and daring air raids.

Unique collection drives prices to double expectations

05 February 2004

SCALE models of racing cars, and scratch-built models of engine components may not be typical stock for antique dealers but in a very special collectables niche market they enjoy a keen following as was clearly demonstrated by a sell-out sale, held at Christie’s South Kensington (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) last month.

Surry Triumphant ...but a Kentish riposte brings the greater score

02 February 2004

EXCEPTING the Norwich Union (one-day) cup that the team picked up a couple of seasons back, trophies for Kent County Cricket Club have been a bit thin on the ground in recent years. By today’s county standards, a St Lawrence (Canterbury) gate of 4000 is considered a good one and – though Sussex picked up the county title last year – today it is Surrey that remain the side to beat.

Decorative, down-to-earth price

02 February 2004

One of the more unusual lots offered by Felixstowe auctioneers Diamond Mills (10% buyer’s premium) on December 16-17 was this framed and glazed Sutton & Sons educational display, right, entitled Analyses of Natural Grasses by Dr J. Augustus Voelcker.