Out of the Ordinary: Intriguing nuggets of history at Christie’s

Out of the Ordinary: Intriguing nuggets of history at Christie’s
CELEBRATING HISTORY | The sale includes personal possessions of celebrated names such as Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill and items like this set of keys from the legendary Titanic (Courtesy: Christie’s)

This year’s Out of the Ordinary sale is led by memorabilia compiled by collector David Gainsborough Roberts over the last forty years—and it’s on view to the public for free, from 6 August up until the evening of the auction

The events around Christie’s 250th anniversary include a very intriguing auction, just round the corner. On 14 September 2016 Christie’s South Kensington, London, will host Out of the Ordinary – The 250th Anniversary Edition. The annual auction is a celebration of all things out of the ordinary: the unique, the extraordinary and the exceptional. How this for the extraordinary: a set of keys from the Titanic and a silk head scarf owned by Lawrence of Arabia? Told you it’s unique!

This year’s edition comprises over 90 lots selected for the intriguing stories they tell. Every object and work of art featured in the sale will be on view to the public in a five-week summer exhibition, from 6 August up until the evening of the auction. The exhibition is free and open to everyone. The highlight of the sale is actually a diverse collection of memorabilia compiled by the Jersey based collector David Gainsborough Roberts, who has spent the last forty years amassing memorabilia from the worlds of film and entertainment, royalty and politics, sport, and travel and exploration. These include personal possessions of many celebrated and renowned names of the 19th and 20th centuries such as Queen Victoria, Sir Winston Churchill, Lawrence of Arabia, the Duchess of Windsor, William Harrison “Jack” Dempsey and Captain Robert Falcon Scott, among a host of others. So, along with the keys from the Titanic, and the silk head scarf and agal owned by Lawrence of Arabia (estimate: £3,000-5,000 and £10,000-15,000) there’s also pair of ear clips owned and worn by the Duchess of Windsor (estimate: £8,000-12,000); and a Stetson presented to Sir Winston Churchill by the City of Calgary (estimate: £4,000-6,000).

Roberts explained in a statement: “After collecting for over forty years the time has finally arrived to share my collection with the world. I hope my insatiable appetite for the curious, the famous and the infamous will inspire a new generation of custodians.”

The Leica Camera Family Tree

A further highlight is the Leica Camera Family Tree, an artwork displaying 107 Leica cameras that chart the history of renowned camera maker Leica from circa 1923 to 2006 (estimate: £350,000-450,000).

LEICA CAMERA FAMILY TREE | An artwork displaying 107 Leica cameras that chart the history of the camera maker from 1923 to 2006 (Courtesy: Christie’s)

LEICA CAMERA FAMILY TREE | An artwork displaying 107 Leica cameras that chart the history of the camera maker from 1923 to 2006 (Courtesy: Christie’s)

The introduction of the Leica heralded a new type of photographer: the photojournalist, who made use of the camera’s small size, with an ability to work unobtrusively in low-light or fast-moving conditions with previously difficult subjects. Leica users such as Robert Capa, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Nick Ut, André Kertész, Andreas Feininger, AleksanderRodchenko, Leni Reifenstahl, Robert Doisneau, Bert Hardy, George Rodger and the great Henri Cartier-Bresson were amongst the many photographers who used the Leica to create some of the world’s best known images. In 2014 Leica celebrated 100 years of Leica photography with an exhibition titled 36 aus 100 (‘36 from 100’).

1904 Sold Gold Olympic Medal

OLYMPIC GOLD | Hunter was awarded the 14 carat gold Golf medal at the St. Louis Games, one of only two Olympics in which the winners were presented with solid gold medals (Courtesy: Christie’s)

OLYMPIC GOLD | Hunter was awarded the 14 carat gold Golf medal at the St. Louis Games, one of only two Olympics in which the winners were presented with solid gold medals (Courtesy: Christie’s)

A selection of Olympic memorabilia, led by a 1904 Olympic gold medal awarded to American amateur golfer Robert E. Hunter is also up for sale (estimate: £20,000-30,000). Hunter was awarded the 14 carat gold Golf medal as part of the winning team at the Olympic Games in St. Louis. The St. Louis Games were the first to award gold, silver and bronze medals, and was one of only two Olympics in which the winners were presented with solid gold medals, making this medal particularly rare. In addition to the gold medal awarded to Robert E. Hunter, only two other team gold medals for golf are known to date. Golf was last played in the Olympic Games in 1904 in St. Louis and it is fitting to be offering this medal in the year the sport returns to the Olympic schedule after an absence of 112 years.

Also featured in the auction is an aluminium torch made for the 2012 London Paralympics Games offered together with an official Paralympics uniform (estimate: £1,000-1,500); and a collection of golfing medals and trophy cups awarded to Robert E. Hunter, together with a signed published diary by Robert Hunter (estimate: £6,000-10,000).

Silver Jaguar XJ8 armoured LWB saloon

BARONESS THATCHER OFFICIAL JAGUAR | Also loaned to David Cameron during 2010 election and used by him en route to Downing Street after his first meeting with the Queen as Prime Minister (Courtesy: Christie’s)

BARONESS THATCHER OFFICIAL JAGUAR | Also loaned to David Cameron during 2010 election and used by him en route to Downing Street after his first meeting with the Queen as Prime Minister (Courtesy: Christie’s)

For auto enthusiasts, there’s something special: a car that has made extraordinary journeys: a silver Jaguar XJ8 armoured LWB saloon, the last official car allocated to the late Baroness Thatcher by The Government Car Service (a division of the Department for Transport) (estimate: £15,000-25,000). Whilst other official cars were used during Margaret Thatcher’s time in office, both as Prime Minister and as an ex-Prime Minister, this is the only official car used by her that can be substantiated. This Jaguar saloon was also loaned to David Cameron during the 2010 election and was used by him en route to Downing Street after his first meeting with the Queen at Buckingham Palace as Prime Minister. The car was paid for by HM Treasury, and the funds raised from the sale of the car will go back to the Treasury. The car’s numerous impressive features include 6 speed automatic transmission, liquid silver exterior, discreetly armoured enhancement including titanium roof, ballistic steel armouring, under-floor Kevlar protection, bullet-resistant borosilicate glazing, tyres with run flat capability and six-piston Alcon mono-block brake callipers to the front and four-piston Alcon mono-block brake callipers to the rear. Whew!

Keys from the legendary Titanic, Circa 1912

FOUR KEYS ON B BRASS FOB | Belonging to Samuel Ernest Hemming, the lamp trimmer on board RMS TITANIC (Courtesy: Christie’s)

FOUR KEYS ON B BRASS FOB | Belonging to Samuel Ernest Hemming, the lamp trimmer on board RMS TITANIC (Courtesy: Christie’s)

This set of keys belonged to Samuel Ernest Hemming, the lamp trimmer on board RMS TITANIC. He was known as ‘Plenty of time, Sir’ Hemmings as that was his response when the officers tried to make him hurry to the boats. Aged 43 at the time of the sinking, he had been at sea since the age of 15, and with White Star Line for five years. His duties were ‘to mix the paint, and all that kind of thing for the ship, and to look after all the decks, trim all the lamps, and get them in proper order, and to put the lights in at night-time and take them off at daybreak’ (taken from evidence Hemming gave to the US Senatorial Titanic Inquiry).

Estimate: £7,000-10,000

Ear Clips of the Duchess of Windsor

ECHOES OF HISTORY | Shell-shaped ear clips embellished with gold and turquoise mounts(Courtesy: Christie’s)

ECHOES OF HISTORY | Shell-shaped ear clips embellished with gold and turquoise mounts(Courtesy: Christie’s)

Owned and worn by the Duchess Of Windsor, these ear clips comprising a shell with gold and turquoise mounts.

Estimate: £15,000-25,000