News & Insights

Rare Locomotives Steam to Sale

5th November 2019.

A host of rare items are up for sale in Tennants Auctioneers’ Toys, Models & Collectables Sale on 27th November with fine model locomotives, model cars, shipping memorabilia and all manner of collectable toys.

The top lot of the sale is a 2-foot-high cast bronze letter ‘M’ from the starboard hull nameplate of the legendary Cunard liner R.M.S. Mauretania. This unique piece of shipping history was bought for less than 10 Guineas in an auction of the ship’s fittings after her decommissioning in 1935 and is now offered for sale with an estimate of £5,000-7,000 (plus buyer’s premium). The letter ‘M’ was acquired from the Sutton family (who were the original purchasers) in the 1950s by the present vendor’s father. The letter ‘E’ from the nameplate is in the Discovery Museum in Newcastle, but it is thought that this is the first Mauretania letter to appear on the open auction market since 1935 and is likely to cause waves amongst collectors of Shipping Memorabilia.

Part II of the Tom Stanley Collection of Airline and Shipping Memorabilia is also up for sale, amongst which is an original copy of the formal investigation into the sinking of the Titanic in the Lloyds register (estimate: £400-600 plus buyer’s premium). The 73-page report looks in detail at the tragedy, including the technical specifics of the ship, the journey, the damage, accounts of the saving and rescue and witness statements.

Amongst a good offering of model locomotives and steam models are three stand-out lots, the first being a very early prototype model of Robert Stephenson’s 1830 locomotive. The Planet 8 ¼” gauge live steam model is believed to have been constructed more or less contemporaneously with Stephenson’s prototype. It was once displayed in The British Engineerium in Hove and is on offer with an estimate of £7,000-10,000 (plus buyer’s premium). Secondly is a Marklin O Gauge New York Central Locomotive 5273 and 12-wheel bogie tender in excellent condition, estimated at £3,000-4,000 (plus buyer’s premium). This extremely rare locomotive dates from the 1930s, during the brief period that Marklin were producing their top-quality models of foreign trains before Hitler halted production of non-national products. Thirdly, is an exceptionally well executed scratch-built O gauge model of a Johnson 2-4-0 Midland Railway Locomotive 51 offered with an estimate of £600-900 (plus buyer’s premium).

Two good examples of the toy car collectors’ Holy Grail – the CIJ P2 Alfa Romeo are also on offer. The Alfa Romeo P2 was made by the French company CIJ between 1925 and 1935, modelled after the full-size racing car that was first built in Italy 1924 by legendary designer Vittorio Jano. The model version has stylish looks evocative of inter-war Grand Prix racing and as a piece of miniature toy engineering it has few equals. The models are painted in a variety of colours reflecting the racing colours of various nations, and on offer are a mid-green economy model (estimate: £2,000-3,000 plus buyer’s premium), and a red version (estimate: £1,500-2,000 plus buyer’s premium).

Finally, the sale offers a good selection of vintage advertising – an area of collecting seeing strong results. Highlights in the sale include three good glass shop display cabinets, including one for Fry’s Chocolate.


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