Photokina 2014 highlights

Bonhams

Two iconic automobiles will go under the hammer in June - a 1912 Rolls-Royce Double Pullma...

Each year the Goodwood Festival of Speed hosts an auction by Bonhams, and due to the importance of the event and the unique crowd it draws, the best come out to play. This year there are two stand-outs going under the hammer: the first is the 1912 Rolls-Royce Double Pullman Limousine (estimated GBP2,000,000/US$3,147,000) which was reproduced in the popular Corgi Classics series of widely circulated die-cast toy cars, the second being the personal 1938 Type 57C of the Ettore Bugatti, lovingly built for Le Patron by his staff.  Read More

Both sides of the 1396 Richard II horary quadrant

You just never know what you've got in the shed. This horary quadrant was found in a bag of old pipe fittings in a shed on a farm in Queensland, Australia, forty years ago. Last year the owner of the quadrant was surfing the internet and came across this article where he recognised not just the same tool, but the same stag-coronet insignia that was on his quadrant (he thought it was an astrolabe) signified it was made for King Richard II (of England). He subsequently contacted the British Museum, which identified the item sitting on his desk for the last forty years as a 1396 horary quadrant. It will be auctioned next month and is expected to fetch between GBP150,000 and GBP200,000.  Read More

Moby Dick, the famous 1929 SS100 Brough Superior

Another Brough Superior motorcycle has moved into the top 10 most valuable motorcycles sold at auction when the 1929 SS100 commonly known as ‘Moby Dick’ sold for GBP 210,500 (US$333,210). The auction result continues the trend of Brough Superiors becoming the most valuable brand in the world, with four of the 10 most valuable motorcycles now coming from the famous (and recently resurrected) brand name. Interestingly, yet another Brough Superior SS100 will front the auctioneer on November 16 (est. GBP165,000-185,000) and it will almost certainly become the eighth Brough Superior in the top 20, and the eleventh of this group to have been sold by Bonhams.  Read More

The car in question doing its job

The greater share of the value of any significant collector car is in the provenance – who sat in the seat before you, and experienced the same vehicle, can make a massive difference to the price the car commands. What then of a car that was specifically built for, and used, by Pope Paul VI? It went on to become the focal point of countless ticker tape parades for the first astronauts to orbit the moon (Apollo 8's Borman, Lovell and Anders), the first astronauts to set foot on the moon (Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, plus Command Module Pilot Michael Collins) plus Apollo 13's Lovell, Mattingly and Haise and Apollo 15's Scott, Worden and Irwin, President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Vice President Hubert Humphrey. How much will it go for?  Read More

Does this AJS Porcupine deserve to become the world's most expensive motorcycle?

It seems the world auction record for a motorcycle is expected to fall later this year when a 1954 AJS E95 Porcupine grand prix racer will go under the hammer. The only thing I can’t work out is “why all the fuss?” The 1949 E90 AJS Porcupine narrowly won the inaugural World 500cc championship, but by 1954 the design was obsolete and the subsequent unreliable E95 never won a race at world championship level in three seasons of trying. That’s not stopping Bonhams from talking it up (its claim that the bike is “arguably the most beautiful, graceful and innovative racing motorcycle ever built” is just plain ridiculous) and it is expecting a sale price in excess of US$750,000 which would put it on top of the list of the most expensive motorcycles sold at auction.  Read More

Less than 1500 copies of the Liber chronicarum (Nuremberg Chronicle) were printed in Latin...

It’s easy to become blasé in the ubiquitous, 24-7 avalanche of information in which we live our lives – the challenge now is about filtering, organizing and synthesizing information into a useful and relevant form. Think back though to an earlier time when the very first books became available to the public, when the treasure trove of knowledge in our pocket that we take for granted simply did not exist. A book coming up for auction, the Liber Chronicarum (1493), was one of the very first history books available, one of the first printed illustrated books available and its scope is remarkable given it was produced 500 years ago.  Read More

The recent Eric Clapton guitar and amp auction at Bonhams New York raised $2.15 million fo...

Everything that went under the hammer at the recent sale of guitars and amps at Bonhams in aid of Eric Clapton's Crossroads Centre was sold, bringing in three times the amount expected. For the first time, the legendary musician offered amps and cabinets from his own collection, including a 1966 Fender Super Reverb. The sale also included instruments from Fender, Music Man, Gibson and Martin as well as memorabilia and collectibles, and attracted fans from all over the world, hoping to take home a piece of Clapton history.  Read More

The spacesuits of Gennadi Strekalev (left) and Alexei Leonov (right)

More space history will go on sale in New York on May 5 when Bonhams will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Alan Shepard’s historic mission in Freedom 7 with a Space Sale. Some early highlights of the sale include a Sokol K spacesuit worn by cosmonaut Alexei Leonov during the historic 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Project (the symbolic end to the Space Race) and a Sokol KV-2 spacesuit worn by Gennadi Strekalov during a 1990 mission to the Mir space station. Can you tell which is which?  Read More

Charles Burton's historic skyscraper design (left) and the Crystal Palace in 1910

While the debate continues as to whether the world's first skyscraper was the the Home Insurance Building built in Chicago in 1885, or New York's seven floor Equitable Life Assurance Building built in 1870, it seems that the British pipped the Americans to the post in terms of a design. British architect Charles Burton designed a 1,000 foot (305 meter) high metal and glass building in response to a call to redesign The Crystal Palace, the famous London exhibition building, 30-odd years before the American buildings were erected. Burton's historic design sketch is headed for the auction block this week.  Read More

Eric Clapton with a signed 2006 'Blackie' recreation Stratocaster, estimated at between US...

Although guitar legend Eric Clapton has auctioned off instruments from his personal collection before, next year's sale will mark the first time that he's made some of his amps available, too. Players looking to grab a slice of Slow Hand tone, fans of the man they called God, or music memorabilia collectors will all get the chance to bid on over 70 of the icon's own guitars and 70 of his amps. Donations from other famous musicians will also go under the hammer, with all profits going to the substance abuse center in Antigua that Clapton founded in the late 1990s.  Read More

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