2004 saw H&H Classic Auctions consolidate its position as one of Europe’s leading automobilia auction houses. The appointment of automobilia specialist Matthew Kershaw allowed the company to develop the size and quality of its collectables sales, with a consequent significant growth in the prices achieved.
From regular 250-300 lot sales in 2003, entries grew to such an extent that H&H’s October 2004 sale featured over 600 lots, while, in the December auction, nearly 700 lots went under the hammer, achieving a total for that particular sale of over £82,000.*
During 2004 H&H sold two important private collections; the John Hardy collection of mascots and badges, and the Rui Queiroz collection of literature, plus the private archives of a motorcycle racing journalist.
No less than 4,000 models from the Rui Queiroz collection are to feature in the February 2005 sale at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, kicking off what H&H believes will be a very exciting year for automobilia.
During 2004 the market divided into two distinct sectors. The very best and most desirable items continued to rise in value – meteorically in some instances- and were keenly fought-over, whilst average or less desirable items struggled to find buyers, even at very little money.
H&H believes that buyers will continue to be ever more discerning, concentrating on collecting a few of the best items rather than acquiring large quantities of lesser items.
Market analysis in-depth
Motor Car Paperwork
H&H established itself as THE foremost auction house for motor car literature in 2003 and the 2004 results cemented this. As always, manufacturers’ sales brochures performed exceptionally strongly and continue to be in great demand; particularly those lots featuring a quantity of brochures from the last 20-30 years.
While pre-war magazines remain eminently saleable, their post-war counterparts are currently of little value unless bound in publishers’ bindings with indices.
Books continue to sell well, with the best items rising strongly in value, a trend matched by technical literature. A private collection of pre-war motor racing programmes in the December sale demonstrated that interest for such early motor racing literature is stronger than ever. One particular lot of six, 1939 Brooklands programmes sold for £750 against an estimate of £80-120.
Other significant paperwork results from H&H sales during 2004 include:
1935 SS Jaguar sales brochure – £280 (June)
Run of Autocourse annuals 1976/7 – 1999/00 – £900 (July)
Bound run of Iota magazine – £1,200 (Oct)
Alfa Romeo 1750 17/95 owner’s handbook – £280 (Dec)
‘The Ford That Ferrari Built’ by Jones & Wyre – £600 (Dec)
Motor Car Collectables
Attractive ‘ephemera’ gift style items have always been popular, and they remained so during 2004. Originality is everything, however, with buyers failing to respond to the many later ‘reproductions’ on the market. Models fall into this category, and die-casts in particular need to be ‘mint and boxed’ to make good prices. The larger scale, handbuilt models at the top of the market have increased in value handsomely for the right examples.
Bugatti T35 1:8 scale model by Art Collection Auto – £2,200 (July)
Bugatti T35B cast bronze sculpture – £2,000 (Oct)
Two Arcadain China Petrol Pump Men – £340 (Oct)
Motor Car Insignia
This was previously thought to be an area of collecting in decline, but H&H bucked the trend in 2004 by selling the John Hardy collection of mascots and badges. This impressive collection – put together over 30 years – created huge interest and achieved far higher prices than other auction houses had seen in recent months, particularly for the best mascots. Other items falling into this category include early lamps, instruments and luggage, all of which followed the general trend of increasing prices for the best items.
Desmo Leaping Cat Jaguar mascot – £500 (February)
Jaguar XK fitted luggage set – £380 (February)
Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Spirit of Ecstasy – £900 (June)
Serenading Perrot ceramic mascot – £600 (July)
Brooklands Flying Club badge on badge bar with four others – £3000 (Oct)
Austin Winged Wheel mascot – £700 (Oct)
Mercury & Pegasus mascot by Rossi of Eastbourne – £1,100 (Oct)
Drew & Sons two-person picnic set – £460
Motor Union full member’s car badge – £550 (Dec)
Bentley Horizontal Winged B mascot – £650 (Dec)
Non-Motor Car Items
Early bicycles and bicycling memorabilia continue to attract strong interest, and Penny Farthings sold very well during 2004.
Trojan Toractor – £900 (June)
Dawes Cycles illuminated showroom sign – £600 (Dec)
Penny Farthing Highwheeler – £1,200 (Dec)
Motor Car Artwork
Artwork has struggled in recent years and 2004 continued to reflect this
trend. Modern prints in particular, signed or otherwise, have suffered badly
from over supply and now sell purely on the strength of the attractiveness of
the image and subject matter. As with other categories, however, original
artwork by good artists has held its own and continues to find new walls to hang on.
Original Ferrari Mille Miglia oils by Tony Smith – £2,200 (July)
Original Ettore Bugatti technical drawing – £360 (Dec)
Bentley in 1929 TT original oils by Sammy Davis – £660 (Dec)
Photographs & Signatures
One of the recent growth areas has been original motorsport photographs, with a significant increase in the interest shown and prices achieved at H&H.
The private collection of photographs from a motorcycle racing journalist sold by H&H in April confirmed that this interest extends to all forms of motorsport. Pre-1975 photos all find homes readily, with pre-war photos of all forms, both amateur and professional, being most sought after.
Signatures have always been keenly collected and although, as with modern prints, recent F1 signatures have declined sharply in value due to over supply (honourable exceptions being Ayrton Senna and Jim Clark), those of pre-war drivers in particular are very much in demand.
Collection of motorcycle racing negatives – £1,100 (April)
Signed 1938 Mercedes-Benz works team pictures – £1,050 (April)
1938 Donington Grand Prix programme signed by Auto Union team – £1,000 (Oct)
Anything relating to pre-war motorsport is keenly sought after, and Brooklands members’ badges continue to be highly collectable, especially if in their original boxes with matching numbers. Modern F1 memorabilia is struggling through oversupply, however.
Silk Cut Jaguar XJR9 Le Mans bonnet – £1,800 (June)
Monte Carlo 1936 competitor’s plaque – £550 (July)
Telegram addressed to Tazio Nuvolari – £600 (Oct)
Brooklands members’ badges 1926 (unboxed) – £360 (Dec)
Always a popular collectors’ subject, the lack of really good items available has seen sharply increasing prices for the best early items. Glass petrol pump globes rarely make less than £150 now if in good, undamaged condition, even for the most common items.
Original pre-1960 lightboxes are also very much in demand, particularly in working condition with original glass panels rather than perspex replacements. However, due to their rarity and attractiveness, sympathetically restored examples also sell very well.
Skeleton petrol pumps have declined in popularity, reflecting a general trend away from excessively heavy and cumbersome items which many people now see as a liability due to their limited manoeuvrability.
Enamel signs continue to be much sought after and well collected, as do petrol and oil memorabilia in general.
Aston Martin cast metal wall plaque – £380 (February)
Arrol-Johnston glass showroom sign – £650 (June)
KLG Spark Plugs double-sided clock lightbox – £2,600 (July)
Bentley 3-litre radiator grille including core – £750 (Oct)
Royal Blue Coaches Greyhound enamel sign – £550 (Oct)
Empire Regent Spirit glass petrol pump globe – £1,000 (Dec)
H&H Managing Director Simon Hope attributes his team’s automobilia success to a number of factors: “Our highly competitive sellers’ and buyer’s commission rate of just 10% makes us particularly attractive. But a market-leading low commission rate needs to be backed by expertise and enthusiasm in order to provide the sort of excellent service that sees buyers and vendors returning again and again, and strong prices being achieved, and H&H consistently delivers that.
“Our staff have a great interest in, knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject matter, together with an honest desire to serve vendors and buyers as well as possible. We’re also a friendly, unstuffy bunch and our sales are held at interesting and welcoming venues – all in all, a winning combination.”
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