John Orfe watercolour and charcoal on paper of a futuristic sedan, published in The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1946, $1100 (£880) at Jeffrey S Evans.

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The mid-century depictions of streamlined vehicles on offer at Jeffrey S Evans (25% buyer’s premium) in Mount Crawford on August 25 were years ahead of their time.

Orfe was born in Philadelphia and began a life-long love affair with motor racing after seeing his first auto race at the Langhorne Speedway in 1932. After working as a combat artist in the Pacific during the Second World War, he became an influential automotive and airline designer from the middle of the 20th century.

His clients included some of the top automotive publications of the period plus Chrysler, Volkswagen, and Boeing.

At Ford he worked with the team charged with the task of re-designing the Lincoln Continental, which was on the brink of being discontinued. Ultimately, Orfe and the team were able to convince management of the need for a radical revision of the old model, which resulted in the now classic 1961 car.

An exhibition of auto racing art by Orfe was held in 2016 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum with the institution later acquiring some of the exhibits.


John Orfe watercolour of a racer at the Bonneville Salt Flats c.1939, $1000 (£800) at Jeffrey S Evans.

The 11 pencil drawings and watercolour sketches in the sale dated from the Second World War period until c.1950 when the artist and his clients had returned to civilian life.

They ranged from a watercolour depiction of a racer time trialling at the Bonneville Salt Flats c.1939 ($1000/£830) to a concept drawing for a two-wheeler with retractable stabilisers c.1944 ($500/£415).

Orfe’s watercolour and charcoal on paper of a futuristic sedan, published in The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1946, estimated at $300-500 led the selection at $1100 (£900).

Staffs selection

The drawings were part of a three-day Americana auction that ran from August 24-26.

It also included a collection of Staffordshire transfer-printed wares formed by David J Baker of Garrison, New York. In addition to some of the coveted US subject scenes were pieces with Indian colonial patterns.


Transfer printed blue and white soup tureen by William Adams & Son, $2600 (£2200) at Jeffrey S Evans.

Estimated at $80-120 but sold at $2600 (£2200) was a blue and white William Adams & Son covered tureen and ladle, c.1850, decorated with an unrecorded Temple Warriors series print of figures among domed exotic buildings.

A slightly earlier ovoid form pearlware tureen featuring Chalees Satoon in the Fort of Allahabad on the River Jumna had some areas of professional restoration but was bid to $2100 (£1750) against a similar guide.