Celia Harvey, Head of Sale commented: “Following the success of the first Out of the Ordinary sale, which saw thousands of visitors to the pre-sale exhibition and attracted global media interest, we are very pleased to once again offer the opportunity to acquire something a little different from Christie’s South Kensington. The auction features a wide range of objects many of which have never been seen at auction. This year we will also be offering a selection of works in an online-only auction so that collectors can participate from around the globe. We look forward to welcoming the public to the free extended pre-sale exhibition throughout the month of August.”
Leading the sale is an extremely rare LATE MEDIEVAL BROADSWORD with earlier Viking blade and bearing the arms of the De Bohun family (estimate: £80,000 – 120,000, illustrated left). The sword‟s illustrious story begins in the 11th century where it was possibly captured at the Battle of Hastings by Humphrey De Bohun and later remounted to become a family sword. Several generations later Sir Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford and Essex, fought in the Battle of Bannockburn where he witnessed his young nephew Henry de Bohun fall victim to King Robert‟s axe, and joined the retreat after it became clear on the second day of fighting that victory belonged to the Scots. He was taken prisoner at Bothwell Castle and eventually ransomed for the safe return of King Robert‟s queen, Elizabeth, his daughter Marjorie Bruce, two bishops and other prominent Scots captives. This sword, whilst not being a war sword in its present form, would have been used as a clear badge of identity with its gold and enamelled coat of arms on the pommel and eminently more practical as a side arm around camp when not mounted and armed for battle and appears to be the first of four swords mentioned in Sir Humphrey‟s will of 1319.
Unusual pieces of POP MEMORABILIA in the sale include the front door from the childhood home of Sir Paul McCartney 20 Forthlin Road, Allerton, Liverpool (estimate: £6,000 – 8,000, illustrated right). The McCartney family moved to Forthlin Road in April 1956, leaving behind another terraced council house in Speke, South Liverpool. Developing a friendship over their shared passion for rock and skiffle, Paul and his school friend George Harrison began to play music together at 20 Forthlin Road - Paul on his trumpet and George on guitar. After meeting John Lennon at the Woolton Parish Church Garden Fete on 6th July 1957, Paul joined John‟s band The Quarrymen, purchased his first guitar, invited George to join the group, and 20 Forthlin Road became one of the main places the band would rehearse, and where Paul and John would compose and try out new songs. Over 100 songs are believed to have been written at this house, including Love Me Do, I Saw Her Standing There and When I’m Sixty-Four.
The sale features a three-rotor ENIGMA CIPHER MACHINE (estimate: £40,000 – 60,000, illustrated left and page 1 left). This was the standard German electronic ciphering machine widely used in World War II. ENIGMA in several variants was used by the German Navy, the Wehrmacht, the Luftwaffe, the state railroad system, the Abwehr (intelligence) and the SS. It was designed with a complex, interchangeable series of three rotors bearing the 26-character alphabet, a „refector‟ and a plugboard with movable connecting cords that connected pairs of letters. As an added precaution, the base or starting settings for the rotors was
changed every 24 hours, according to pre-printed setting registers furnished in advance or supplied daily by courier. ENIGMA was widely regarded by the Germans as too complex to be broken given that it made possible a total of 15 quintillion possible readings for each character, but in the 1930s a team of Polish analysts made remarkable progress in working out the machine‟s basic system, identified its vulnerabilities and succeeded in deciphering much of the encrypted German radio traffic. An elite team of cryptanalysts, mathematicians and engineers including Alan Turing (1912-54) were established in a top-secret facility at Bletchley Park. For the rest of the war that legendary team‟s heroic and unstinting efforts gradually accomplished the seemingly insurmountable task of deciphering an enormous volume of encrypted communications. The critical intelligence deriving from their decipherment was dubbed ULTRA and was employed cautiously but to great effect during the war; some commentators credit ULTRA with shortening the war by some two years.
SPACE exploration is represented in the sale by a number of fascinating objects. Mission commentary from Apollo 13 is a minute-by-minute account of the ill-fated progress of the mission, beginning even before lift-off with the exposure of the crew to German measles, and continuing through the launch at 2.13 pm on 11 April to the development of the now famous “we‟ve got a problem” at 9pm on 13 April. Further objects from outer space include a pen flown to the lunar surface on Apollo 17 (estimate: £15,000 – 25,000, illustrated right). The pen would have been used by the astronauts as they carried out their scientific three day mission, landing on the surface of the Moon on 11 December 1972. This was to be mankind‟s most recent human landing on the Moon. Also on offer is a very large Campo del Cielo Meteorite which was first discovered by Spanish explorers in Chaco, Argentina in 1572. It has been determined from carbon dating, taken from charred wood remains from the crater, that the fall occurred between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago. The cosmic radiation of the Meteorite mass was found to be relatively young at approximately 14 million years old (estimate: £10,000 – 15,000, illustrated left).
A very rare offering is the RADFORD MINI DE VILLE by Harold Radford Coachbuilders Ltd., 1964 (estimate: £40,000 – 50,000, illustrated right). Coachbuilt Radford Mini‟s were de rigeur motor cars of the swinging sixties London celebratory set. The Mini De Ville, introduced in 1963 with many being supplied by Brydor Cars (Brian Epstein and Terry Doran), provided bespoke coachbuilt conversions giving his clientele levels of luxury usually the preserve of motor cars from the likes of Rolls Royce, Bentley and Aston Martin. Famous owners included all members of the Beatles, Brian Epstein, Mike Nesmith of The Monkees, Peter Sellers and Britt Ekland.
A menagerie of ANIMALS will be offered in the sale including a pair of taxidermy „Zebracorns‟ (Equus Quagga) (estimate: £3,000 – 5,000, illustrated page 1) and a rare French walking fantail-displaying Indian Peacock automaton dating to the late 19th century, with a winding mechanism allowing it to walk, turn its head, and stop to display its plumage (estimate: £15,000 – 25,000).
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