In the News

The Morgan Acquires Drawings by Major African-American Artists from the South

New York—The Morgan is excited to announce that it is expanding its collection—one of... read more

Illustrations from Treasured Children's Literature at Swann on December 6

New York - Swann Galleries continues their auction season with Illustration Art on Thursday,... read more

Minnesota Center for Book Arts Announces "New Editions" Book Art Event

Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) invites the community to attend New Editions, a... read more

Manuscript of Gettysburg Address on Display at Library of Congress for 155th Anniversary

On Nov. 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The... read more

Potter & Potter's December 1 Vintage Travel Poster Event

Chicago — Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce its 750 lot Vintage... read more

The Holy Grail of Glenn Gould Manuscripts at Bonhams

New York - On December 5, Bonhams Books and Manuscripts sale will offer Glenn... read more

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Acquires Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Archive

New York — The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at The New... read more

Russian Literary First Editions Coming up at Christie’s

London--On 28 November, Christie’s will present the single owner auction Russian Literary First Editions... read more

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2015 Bookseller Resource Guide

Maps and Memoirs

Cigar Butts and Scrap Paper

Winston Churchill’s old stogie, worth more than $15,000 at auction.

Churchill’s Cigar Butt, Keys of Aylsham, on January 28-29, £9,775 ($15,835) and Neville Chamberlain’s Airline Ticket, Mullocks of Ludlow, on January 19, £9,360 ($15,165)

It was in 1941 that Nellie Goble, picked up an iconic souvenir from a 10 Downing Street ashtray when her boss, Winston Churchill, was suddenly called away to a cabinet meeting. Sixty years on, that Havana cigar butt generated enormous pre-sale interest in this Norfolk sale, and news that it made a tidy sum has seen the auctioneers inundated with offers to sell other items of Churchillian ashtrayana.

Winston’s predecessor as Britain’s Prime Minister was Neville Chamberlain and, perhaps unfairly, the abiding image one has of him is the 1938 newsreel footage in which he waives his ‘Peace for Our Time’ document as he disembarks from the aircraft that had taken him to a Munich meeting with Hitler, Mussolini, and the French leader, Daladier. Sadly, the Munich Agreement in which Chamberlain had put so much faith proved as worthless as scrap paper, and within the year, Europe was at war.

Neville Chamberlain’s ticket to Munich.

Part of the ticket issued by British Airways to Chamberlain for that historic flight (found among the papers of George William Demmy, a senior airline manager at the time) was another link with Britain’s wartime history seen at auction in recent weeks.

This was the top copy of a ticket that would originally have had two or more layers—the back is carbonized—and it is worth noting that while this sold for £9,360 ($15,165) to a British collector, another part of the ticket, according to the saleroom’s specialist, Richard Westwood Brookes, was sold by Christie’s back in 1992 for £13,600—just over $22,000 at current exchange rates.

Home Mountaineering and The Wimbledon Serving Tube

Cartoonist William Heath Robinson’s The Wimbledon Serving Tube.

Cartoons by William Heath Robinson, Lawrences of Crewkerne on January 21, £20,400 ($33,455) & £13,200 ($21,650)

Last year, these Somerset auctioneers enjoyed considerable success with sales of works by the English artist, illustrator, and cartoonist William Heath Robinson (1872-1944), and here they were offering a further selection of 139 drawings in twenty lots—all from the same collection and mostly acquired directly from the artist’s family.

Cartoonist William Heath Robinson’s Carrying out the Correspondence Course for Mountain Climbing in the Home.

Many lots comprised groups of comic drawings for a 1943 book, How to Run a Communal Home, but among the larger and more expensive individual works, at £20,400, was an ink and watercolor drawing of one of those elaborate and unlikely but ingenious devices and stratagems that characterise much of WHR’s more familiar work. So much so that the phrase ‘Heath Robinson’ has entered the language as term for somewhat suspect, slightly crazy inventions or constructions. Many now remember WHR (one of three Heath Robinson brothers who were all talented artists and illustrators) only for his comic work, not for his more serious commissions. Carrying out the Correspondence Course for Mountain Climbing in the Home was first published in the December 1928 issue of the American journal, The Sportsman. On the pages of the new British journal, Piccadilly, in the summer of the following year, was an ink and wash drawing of The Wimbledon Serving Tube, one of those bizarre contraptions that Heath Robinson had in mind when he wrote: “I have to try and enable my public to trace the action of my grotesque machines right through, so as to leave them with the subconscious feeling, not that the machine would actually work, but that it ought to work.”

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