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July 2013 TSC 53
Alex Riches visited the Oxfordshire countryside on June 4, 2013 to give us his view on the latest Bonhams auction
Bonhams are the last of the big auction houses to still bother with toy soldier sales, though they have been transported to the wilds of Oxfordshire, thankfully I was pleased to find sale of sufficient interest to justify the journey.
Bonhams usually catalogue in a particular order with the earliest or most expensive items, more often than not Britains, at the beginning of the sale, soldiers, civilians followed by foreign manufacturers then post war, modern and repaints etc towards the end, but this doesn't mean you can go through the catalogue without reasonable care! There has always been interest in the products of Britains Paris Office and they are certainly at a premium now, there were three lots in this sale, a Mounted French Officer on swayback horse £350, nine French Infantry £280 and a rather tatty French Supply Wagon at £360 which sold under estimate because of its poor condition.
One of my favourite Britains figures from their 'b' series is that of the Mounted Infantry, 24 0f these made £190. I have never understood why Britains Underslung Lorry, something that must have been expensive to produce, makes so little money, the lot which included a boxed searchlight made just £190, yet 13 pieces of battlefield scenery made from bits of wood and cardboard by Hugar brought £1,000, maybe it's because of the type of materials used that they are rare, these items along with their buildings were sold latterly through Britains.
There were some big prices in the sale but top of the heap was the Britains special paint set, a Fife and Drum Band of the Durham Light Infantry that made a staggering £4,800. A first version Service Dress R.A.M.C. Wagon, was in beautiful condition but being unboxed meant it only reached a mid estimate £320. Among the civilian lots was a boxed Britains Farmhouse and Barn with figures and scenic accessories, it was something I had never seen in this form before and proved rare enough to make £1,000. We had here the collection of a B.M.S.S. member, Lt.Col. Bertram Cubit and I was interested to see the figures he had commissioned from Freddy Green. Freddy was well known for his conversions and a master with the soldering iron, the painting of regimental standards was also one of his special skills and here were 17 splendid examples of his work in one lot. The figures represented all the Prussian Guards Regiments of the 1890s sadly I missed the chance to buy them at a below estimate £220, somebody got lucky.
The German firm of Heyde was well represented and two Macedonian War Elephants plus seven figures on foot made a rather hefty £3,600, a Temple, some Towers and Walls plus three figures all from the Siege of Troy set brought £1,200. The 65 pieces from the Triumph of Germanicus that included a Mounted Tribune, Senators, Prisoners, an Ox Cart and Chariots etc seemed a reasonable buy at £1,600. There were other Greeks and Romans in the sale, five lots by Heyde, one by Spenkuch which included 17 figures two chariots and another by the Japanese firm of Minikin consisting of a Carthaginian War Elephant and 55 figures, some by other makers, so those with an interest in the ancient world were well catered for.
A comprehensive and very attractive boxed scenic Arctic set by Mignot, containing igloos, dog sleds a ship in ice, kayaks, hunters, a whale and Polar Bears etc achieved a price of £3,000, I must admit that of all their boxed scenes I like this one the best and the price showed that someone else liked it quite a lot too!
All the prices are the 'hammer price' and do not include the 25% buyers premium or VAT.
Images (saved as lot numbers)
Lot 1007, French Mounted Officer
Lot 1050, Drums and Fifes of the Durham Light Infantry
Lot 1066, R.A.M.C. Wagon
Lot 1156, Freddy Green figures
Lot 1200, Macedonian War Elephants.
Lot 1272, Mignot Arctic scene
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