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Toys & Collectables Sales Results: Ship Ahoy!

27th November 2019.

Shipping memorabilia was the order of the day in Tennants Auctioneers’ Toys, Models and Collectables Sale on 27th November, and leading the way with a hammer price of £9,000 was 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.

The Newcastle-built Mauretania was, at the time of her launch, the largest moving structure ever built; she weighed in at over 30,000 tons, and thanks to new quadruple screws was 75% more powerful than any other ship. She held both the Eastbound and Westbound Blue Ribands for Atlantic crossings for almost twenty years, and after the outbreak of the First World War served as troop transport, hospital ship and ship of mercy. Once decommissioned, the Mauretania was taken to Southampton Docks, where Hampton & Sons of St. James’s, London were tasked with auctioning the ‘Appointments, Furnishings, Panelling etc. of the World Famous Cunarder’. The sale was reported in the Daily Telegraph, which described the starboard bow lettering being sold “letter by letter”, and that  “The letter ‘M’ will hang in the home of a Reading seed merchant [Martin Sutton] who made several trips in the Mauretania.” The letter ‘M’ was acquired from the Sutton family in the 1950s by the present vendor’s father; it thought that this is the first Mauretania letter to appear on the open auction market since the original sale.

The sale also saw Part II of the Tom Stanley Collection of Airline and Shipping Memorabilia make over £15,000, and which saw particularly strong prices for mixed shipping paperwork with many lots selling well over the estimate. Highlights of the collection included: a group of Peninsular & Orient Shipping Company Paperwork, which included menus, passenger lists, ship information, plans, crew listings and deck plans selling for £750 (plus buyer’s premium) against an estimate of £80-120. Further lots from this extensive and fascinating collection included a lot of mixed Orient Line Paperwork that sold for £600 (plus buyer’s premium) against an estimate of £70-100, which included an 1881 Second Saloon Ticket to Australia and a Breakfast Menu from July 1896. A mixed lot of Shipping Related Souvenir Spoons caused quite a stir too, selling for £1,100 (plus buyer’s premium) against the £80-120 estimate.

Elsewhere in the sale a CIJ Alfa Romeo P2 tinplate toy car, one of the most desirable collectable toys, sold for £5,000 (plus buyer’s premium), and a Marklin O Gauge New York Central Locomotive 5273 and 12-wheel bogie tender in excellent condition sold for £2,700 (plus buyer’s premium). Vintage advertising material saw strong prices too, with a Fry’s Chocolate Ebonised Display Cabinet selling for £1,300 (plus buyer’s premium).  

The sale resulted in a total Hammer Price of £85,870 for the 528 lots and a 91% sold rate.


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