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The late Thomas Gould was a cricket fan for for well over 60 years. He had played the game with his classmates at Highgate School in north London, then Wanstead Cricket Club, Essex CC after the Second World War.

When his family called in valuers from Canterbury Auction Galleries (24% buyer’s premium) to his home in St Margaret’s Bay, Dover, Gould’s affection for the game was underlined by a fine collection of cricketing antiques and collectables.

Graceful and fruitful

Sixteen Gould lots featured on August 8, in the middle of a three-day auction. The stand-out lot was in many senses a 2ft 8in (81cm) terracotta figure of the legendary WG Grace (1848-1915).

This figure signed and dated for sculptor Edwin Roscoe Mullins (1849-1907) showed Grace in cricketing attire leaning on a bat, on a circular base signed and dated 1885. It is a copy of a bronze presented to the MCC by a Mr FR Evans.

Mullins studied sculpture at Lambeth School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools.

Against a modest estimate of £700-1000, it sold to an Oxfordshire-based buyer in the room at £10,000, underbid by an online bidder.

Grace scored 126 centuries, 10 double centuries and three times reached his third century. He was also a deadly accurate bowler who took more than 2800 wickets.

His likeness was reproduced in a wide range of highly collectable mementoes in every medium from pottery to prints.

Grace appeared among a group of 20 Vanity Fair framed and glazed colour prints of cricketers by the famous caricaturist Leslie Matthew Ward (1851- 1922) who signed his work with the pseudonym Spy. They sold just below estimate at £720.

Big hitters

Nineteenth century Staffordshire potters were quick to recognise the money-making potential of producing figures modelled on leading cricketers of the day. As Tony Pratt of Canterbury Auction Galleries said: “These were notable people – they were the celebrities of their day and very much treated as such.”

The same moulds were used for many different cricketers that were then painted in the appropriate colours of their respective teams.

Three figure lots sold to the same private collector from Cornwall.

A single flatback figure in the Gould collection showed George Parr, known as the ‘Lion of the North’, whose first-class career lasted from 1844-70. He played mainly for Nottinghamshire and was club captain from 1856. He was shown here wearing an orange cap and holding a ball next to a bat and wicket, indicating he was both a batsman and bowler. The figure, made c.1861 to commemorate the first England tour to Australia, doubled the low estimate to sell at £500.

Two other Staffordshire figure lots c.1860, each estimated at £400-600, were from identical moulds showing Surrey batsman Julius Caesar (1830-78) and another in various colour combinations. One pair sold at a mid-estimate £520 while the other took £900.

A 6½in (16.5cm) bone china jug and a drabware mug, both moulded in relief with the named figures of Thomas Box, Filler Pilch and William Clarke – all leading batsman in the mid-19th century – were among the desirable pieces in a lot of five cricketing ceramics. The three other vessels were in Doulton stoneware, including a jug with green medallions of cricketers and a ‘bat and stumps’ handle.

Prices in this area of the market have fallen in recent years but any general dealer would have been happy to buy this lot at its low estimate of £200. In fact it went for £2000.

Sold for £940 against a guide of £200-300 was another lot of late 19th century Lambeth stonewares. A 6½in (16.5cm) high tyg moulded in relief with three cricketers within leaf borders, and a 6in (15cm) high loving cup moulded with two cricketers.


19th century English School painting – £3200 at Canterbury Auction Galleries.

Other lots included a 19th century English School painting, which showed a grandfather teaching a clutch of children how to play cricket. The oil on canvas – pride of place in Gould’s home – was estimated at £400-600 but sold for £3200 to a London buyer.

See sporting memorabilia previews this edition for another item from the Gould collection coming up in November.