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“Football is the area easiest to sell at the moment. It has been growing the fastest over recent years,” said Sotheby’s Olympia specialist Graham Budd.

Although Sotheby’s Olympia (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) dedicate an annual sale to football ephemera, Graham Budd would have been glad of a few well contested football entries in his Golf, Tennis, Cricket and Other Sports auction on July 11. Bidding was patchy for this 352-lot sale that saw a 65 per cent take-up by lot and a £171,935 total.

The take-up was not helped by a drop in the numbers of American buyers visiting London this summer. This had the biggest impact on the golf material – an area predominantly driven by US collectors. Graham Budd also attributed a lack of American buying to the unstable condition of the US stock market the week of the sale.

It was not all doom and gloom, however, and some healthy bids were placed for the Wimbledon tennis material from the large 56-lot collection consigned by the family of 1950s tennis star Jaroslav Drobny (1921-2001).

Ranked in the world’s top ten players for ten successive years from 1946, the Czechoslovakian-turned-British tennis player is perhaps best remembered for his marathon 93-game Wimbledon victory over Budge Patty in 1953. It lasted 4 hours 20 minutes – at the time the longest match recorded.

A silver cigarette case presented by the Duchess of Kent to Drobny commemorating this epic contest, was taken to a multiple-estimate £3400 by a UK dealer, possibly bidding on behalf of a client.

The highlight was a silver-gilt miniature replica of the Gentleman’s Singles Championship Challenge Cup presented to Drobny after he won the Wimbledon Singles title in 1953. It was secured by an overseas institution for £8500.

Although only half of the Drobny consignment found buyers, an overseas institution also secured a number of items of tennis clothing including Lacoste, Fred Perry and Adidas shirts, shorts, socks and Drobny’s travelling trunk.

“I can’t tell you how close that was to being taken [by the vendor] down to the tip,” said Graham Budd, at a loss to account for the winning £3800 against £600-800 expectations.

Outside of this collection, an early and unusual flat-topped Indian racquet made by the Punjabi manufacturers Mahboob of Sialkot, 1886, received top billing. Sialkot has been an important centre for sporting manufacture since colonial times and this racquet in relatively good condition had the desirable double stringing, flat top and a barleytwist handle. A UK dealer outbid a collector to secure this privately consigned racket for £7500.

In the running within the cricket section was the album of autographed portrait postcards, 1904, signed by “all the wonderful names from that golden age”, such as W.G. Grace, Lord Hawke, A.C. Mclaren and K.S. Ranjitsinhji. Cricket ephemera from late Victorian times through to the 1920s, especially if related to Ashes matches, tends to be the most collected material and this group brought £7000.