As an example of mathematical symmetry, it was nigh-on perfect. Each of the top five nameplates sold at Great Central’s September 1 auction at Stoneleigh recorded five-figure realisations – and their combined hammer prices totalled exactly £100,000.
The quintet was headed at £30,000 by 603 Squadron with matching squadron badge, from SR Battle of Britain Pacific No. 34077, followed by The Prince of Wales’s Volunteers South Lancashire from LMS Royal Scot No. 46137 (£26,500), and Knight of the Thistle from GWR Star class No. 4012 (£19,000).
Fourth was Loch Arkaig from LNER K2 No. 61764, whose £14,500 price resulted in more symmetry, in that the top selling quartet came from each of the ‘Big Four’ railway companies. It was then the turn of the diesels, for the final member of the five-figure union at precisely £10,000 was Carmania, carried by Class 40 D218/40028 from 1962 until 1973.
BR made it onto the scoreboard thanks to Venus from Britannia No. 70023 (£9600), after which it was from majestic Pacific to humble tank engine, for next up at £9000 was a nameplate from Isle of Wight O2 class 0-4-4T W31 Chale.
A close-knit selection ensued, led by Dick Turpin from LNER A3 No. 60080 and Princess Beatrice from GWR Star No. 4052, each at £8000, and Madoqua from LNER B1 No. 61027 (£7700).
Two GWR Hall class 4-6-0s feature at this point, with Heveningham Hall from No. 7909 selling for £6800 and Wootton Hall (No. 4979) going under Mike Soden’s hammer for £3500.
The meat in this sandwich of 4-6-0s was Shamrock from LNWR Precursor 4-4-0 No. 1309/LMS 5302 (£5800). A replacement nameplate wasn’t far off No. 4979’s realisation, when Shanklin, from another IoW Class O2, W20, fetched £3200.
This loco’s original nameplate was brass, but when removed prior to the end of steam on the island in December 1966, the steel version that was sold at Stoneleigh replaced it on the 0-4-4T.
A selection of station totem signs spread across three regions mixed it with the lower-priced nameplates, led by BR(M) Keswick at £4600 – more than four times the middle estimate – and ably supported by BR(S) Crowborough and Jarvis Brook (£4300) and BR(W) Builth Wells (£4200). The Southern Railway target sign leader was Parkstone (£1250), closely followed by London Underground’s Bond Street at £1150.
Cabside numberplates are usually the domain of the GWR, but the top seller, at £4000, was a Crewe works 1917 example from LNWR Claughton class 4-6-0 No. 2426, which became LMS No. 5959 and was withdrawn in 1932. The GWR did get a look-in, thanks to 6979 from Helperly Hall, although its £2000 realisation was half that of the LNWR class winner.
Electrics and diesels also shone in this category, with E3040 from a 1960-built Class 84 selling for £2800, and D1049 from Class 52 Western Monarch for £2000.
The top worksplate was a Brighton 1879 offering from an unidentified LBSCR engine (£3500), leading shedplate at £2400 was 64G (Hawick), and heading the smokebox numberplates was 34077 from 603 Squadron, which went for £2000 immediately after its nameplate, albeit not to the same bidder.
Other sales worthy of mention include a Malcolm Root painting of A4 No. 60024 Kingfisher at Gleneagles (£3200), a headboard from ‘The Royal Scot’ (£3100), a platform ticket machine dispensing 2d tickets (£2200), and a Tyer’s key token instrument (£1950). Prices exclude buyer’s premium of 15% (+ VAT).
Auctioneer Mike Soden said: “I thought that it was brilliant overall. Totems were strong, and have really come on in the last year or so. There were some good cabside prices too, although this category can be up and down, as can smokebox numberplates.”
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