auctioneers and valuers
Brian Goodison-Blanks
On this page....
<June 2022>

RSS 2.0     Atom 1.0     CDF

Blog Roll
About Brian Goodison-Blanks
Brian Goodison-Blanks is the Head of the Maritime and Sporting Department at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood. He is based at Honiton in Devon.
Contact Mr Goodison-Blanks
 EMail Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood Email Me
Sign In
The material published in this web log is for general purposes only. It does not constitute nor is it intended to represent professional advice. You should always seek specific professional advice in relation to particular issues. The information in this web log is provided "as is" with no warranties and confers no rights. The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions.

Home | The Fine Art Bloggers | About Blogging | About Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood | Our Salerooms | Future Sales | Contact Us

Review Entries for Day Friday, August 09, 2019

There is always a history behind the items brought in for auction and in some cases there is a fascinating story of the person to whom they belong.

donald craig's wwii medal group and ephemera relating to his service and capture during operation title

Donald Craig's WWII Medal Group and ephemera relating to his service and capture during Operation Title 

Donald Craig was born in Wadebridge, Cornwall in 1913 and emigrated to Canada with his family around 1920. In 1933 he returned to England and joined the Royal Engineers seeing action in the Atlantic and Palestine. As a qualified diver in 1941 he transferred to the Special Service Brigade (Special Boat Service) and in 1942 was part of Operation Title using manned torpedo 'chariots' to attack the German battleship Tirpitz in Asenfjord,Norway. After the chariots were lost during a storm on the 31st October, the raid against Tirpitz was called off. The fishing boat Arthur which was used to tow the chariots was then scuttled at Breidvik and nine of the team members reached Sweden. One member was captured by the Germans and later shot as a spy. Operation Title was the inspiration behind the film 'Above Us the Waves' and the later Operation Source X-craft midget submarine attacks on the Tirpitz. After the war Donald Craig was commissioned to the RNVR MFU Training taking command of HMS Varbel (MA19/252).
More about Brian Goodison-Blanks

Friday, August 09, 2019 3:19:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Collectors | Maritime | Medals & Militaria | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Tuesday, July 30, 2019

After his experiences sledging during the British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913, and the loss of Captain Scott and his Polar Party on their return from the South Pole, Francis Davies spent a considerable amount of time designing his own version of a polar sledge (MA19/2) Many previous expeditions to Antarctica and even the North Pole had used variations of a ‘Nansesn’ pattern sledge (MA19/27). Designed by Fridjof Nansen in 1888 when he undertook his crossing of Greenland, the sledge was designed to be light but strong enough hold all of the equipment needed and be hauled by six men.

a 'nansen' pattern polar sledge similar to those used on the british antarctic expedition 1910-1913

A 'Nansen' pattern polar sledge similar to those used on the British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913. 

Francis Davies had experienced first-hand the extreme environment of the Antarctic and also of the sheer effort of hauling a polar sledge in such conditions. In a letter to Dr Atkinson written by Francis Davies aboard HMS Sandhurst in 1920 he outlined his design for a covered polar sledge stating ‘I have been trying to evolve a type of sledge that would protect the human element from the biting winds whilst on the march’.   He goes on to say that he had considered many mechanical ideas but they failed due to excessive weight. In Francis Davies opinion ‘ … the only reliable means on travel in the Antarctic is by man hauled sledge.’

 a letter from francis davies to dr atkinson in regard to his polar sledge design.

A letter from Francis Davies to Dr Atkinson in regard to his Polar sledge design.

 francis davies design for a covered polar sledge dated 1920.

Francis Davies design for a covered polar sledge dated 1920.

Certainly Francis Davies training as a Royal Naval Carpenter and his draughtsmanship are clearly shown in his excellent design for a covered polar sledge. The four man team is covered and the polar sledge is propelled along by the men walking on an endless track within a well inside the sledge. What response Francis Davies received from the Admiralty on his design is not known, but as someone who had experienced the harsh biting winds of Antarctica you can imagine he had thoughts of his departed colleagues in mind as he drew up his design.
More about Brian Goodison-Blanks

Tuesday, July 30, 2019 3:09:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Collectors | Maritime | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Tuesday, July 23, 2019

As a globe maker Nathaniel Hill (fl,1746-1748) had impeccable credentials, which is why he is perhaps one of the most sought-after makers of the 18th century. Nathaniel Hill was apprenticed to the map maker, surveyor, publisher and globe maker Richard Cushee (1696-c1734) who worked at the sign of the Globe & Sun between Chancery Lane and St Dunstan’s Church, London.


nathaniel hill (fl.1746-1748) a 2 inch pocket globe:, signed 'a new terrestrial globe by nath hill 1754'

Nathaniel Hill (fl.1746-1748) a 2 inch pocket globe:, signed 'A New Terrestrial Globe by Nath Hill 1754'

Nathaniel Hill originally worked as a surveyor on the Fens in Yorkshire and also around London. In 1731 Richard Cushee took Nathaniel Hill on as an apprentice and from there he established himself as one of the finest globe makers of the 18th century. It is interesting to note that the globe displays California as a Peninsula and the North-West Atlantic Coast is titled ‘Unknown parts’. It would not be until over a century later that the ‘Northwest Passage’ would finally be known and not until 1906 when Roald Amundsen finally travelled the complete passage.
More about Brian Goodison-Blanks

Tuesday, July 23, 2019 3:17:32 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Collectors | Maritime | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Friday, July 12, 2019

 After taking part as a crew member of the British Antarctic ‘Terra Nova’ Expedition 1910-1913, Francis Davies remained in contact with several fellow crew members and scientists throughout his lifetime.

One of Francis Davies strongest friendships was that with the Terra Nova’s captain Harry Pennell (1882-1916) in fact Francis Davies even gave his son ‘Pennell’ as his middle name. The strength of this bond is seen within Francis Davies Polar Collection in a letter from Harry Pennell written aboard HMS Queen Mary during World War One. Harry Pennell was Commander of HMS Queen Mary at the time and writes to Francis Davies of his concerns regarding Sir Ernest Shackleton during his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917 of which Pennell writes ‘Undoubtedly and Expedition will have to be sent to the Weddell Sea this next season to try and relieve Sir Ernest’.

 a letter from harry pennell to francis davies on his concern for sir ernest shackleton.

 A letter from Harry Pennell to Francis Davies on his concern for Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Harry Pennell goes on to write about other expedition members Williams and Nelson and their wartime situations, in particular the fact that Nelson was now the only original officer of his regiment surviving the war. The letter is a glimpse into the relationship of two men who understood the perils of Polar Exploration and of war. It is even more pertinent when one considers the date on which Harry Pennell writes to Francis Davies, the 11th May 1916. Harry Pennell was to be killed on the 31st May 1916 aboard HMS Queen Mary when she was sunk during the Battle of Jutland
More about Brian Goodison-Blanks

Friday, July 12, 2019 4:37:33 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Collectors | Maritime | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Friday, April 07, 2017

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….well it was 1977 and it was London, but I like many young boys at the time was captivated by Stars Wars, a film that was, and still is, one of the most memorable ever. Such an influential film on a young nerd leaves it mark, so it was no surprise that during a recent valuation event in North Devon an absolute gem of a collectable was revealed.

 an original 1977 issue luke sky walker 12 inch action figure

An original 1977 issue Luke Sky Walker 12 inch action figure 

There in his original box in pristine condition and with the more unusual grappling hook accessory was an original 1977 issue Luke Sky Walker 12 inch action figure. The inner nerd re-surfaced and I spent the rest of the day telling everyone how fantastic this item is. Since there have been later films and re-issues of various figures, the holy grail for collectors’ are the original issue figures. These are harder to come by in their packaging, especially after forty years so this figure should really get the bidding war going. Included in the Two Day Sporting & Collectors Auction at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood, Exeter, 17th & 18th May (sadly not May 4th!).


an original 1977 issue luke sky walker 12 inch action figure

More about Brian Goodison-Blanks

Friday, April 07, 2017 12:02:02 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Collectable Toys | Collectors | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Recently consigned for inclusion in the Sporting & Collectors Auction is this Edwardian 9ct gold and enamel Scottish International football medal for Alexander Bennett.  Pre-war football memorabilia has always had a strong following for devoted collectors and this piece should prove to be no exception.

edwardian 9ct gold and enamel scottish international football medal for alexander bennett 

Edwardian 9ct gold and enamel Scottish International football medal for Alexander Bennett 

Alexander 'Alex' Bennett began playing for his local club Rutherglen Glencairn in 1901 and was selected for the Scottish International Junior side in 1902, scoring three goals in junior internationals, In 1903 he signed for Celtic Rangers and was a regular first team player in the squad that won the Scottish League title for four years consecutively from 1905-1908. In 1908 he left Celtic and signed for Glasgow Rangers (ten days after scoring the winning goal against them) and became the first player ever to play for both Celtic and Rangers. The signing did not pass without an enquiry from Celtic into the transfer, but the appeal was eventually turned down by the Scottish FA in June 1908. During the First World War he played for Dumbarton and finished his foot balling career with Albion Rovers in over the 1920/21 season. He went on to manage Third Larnak and Clydebank as well a writing a regular column for the Daily Mail. Over his playing career he made eleven appearances for the Scottish International team scoring two goals and represented the Scottish League on ten occasions. 

alex bennett 9ct gold and enamel medal scotland v england 1908

Alex Bennett 9ct gold and enamel medal Scotland V England 1908

More about Brian Goodison-Blanks

Wednesday, April 05, 2017 9:25:08 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Collectors | Medals & Militaria | Sporting | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Wednesday, January 18, 2017

If you missed attending the auction of The Anthony & Yvonne Pardoe Collection of Diving Helmets and Equipment  at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood (SS02)  some catalogues from the sale are still available for £10 each.

the antony & yvonne pardoe collection of diving helmets & equipment

The Antony & Yvonne Pardoe Collection of Diving Helmets & Equipment


Fully illustrated with over 150 diving helmets, diving pumps, boots knives and diving accessories it is a useful reference for anyone with a passion for collecting historic diving equipment.

Entries for the next Specialist Maritime Auction of the 14th June 2017 are currently invited.  For further information please contact Brian Goodison-Blanks


More about Brian Goodison-Blanks

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 4:26:22 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Collectors | Maritime | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Tuesday, June 09, 2015

A historic piece of Royal Navy history has been consigned to Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s forthcoming Maritime Auction of 1st July 2015 in the form of a Royal Navy Life preserver from HMS Hood (MA15/290)


a war department issue life preserver for hms hood

A War Department issue life preserver for HMS Hood 

Inscribed in black text to the front with the ship’s name, the reverse has War Department markings, that though faded are a good indication of the origins of this piece.  It was acquired by the vendor’s father while on holiday in Scotland in the 1930s who bought it at auction and it has remained within the family ever since. It is most likely possible that it was taken from the ship during her major refit May 1929-March 1931 and sold as a souvenir by an enterprising sailor. As well as the pride of the Royal Navy the Hood also attracted a great deal of public support and following during her showing the flag exercises in the 1920s, her sinking having a dramatic affect worldwide.
Souvenirs from the Hood were taken by visitors to the ship in the 1920s and 1930s, like the brass Dolphin fitting (MA13/124A) and the rowing blade trophy (SC19/644).  These pieces are very few and far between as many remain within private collections.
For further information please contact Brian Goodison-Blanks
More about Brian Goodison-Blanks

Tuesday, June 09, 2015 2:07:18 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Collectors | Maritime | Medals & Militaria | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Thursday, April 09, 2015

A recent consignment to Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s forthcoming auction of Maritime and Nautical Antiques on 1st July 2015, this scale model of the RMS Queen Mary made for Hamley's of London, still brings out the child in all collectors. It is fitting that the one of the world’s greatest Ocean Liners of the early 20th century should have had a scale model version being sold in Hamley's, perhaps the world’s greatest toy shop. The detailing of the model is in keeping with the RMS Queen Mary herself, with elegant decking and detail to attention in her funnels and masts. 


a scale model of rms queen mary made for hamleys of london

A scale model of RMS Queen Mary made for Hamley's of London 

Pond yachts and model boats were a popular pastime with many children and adults in the late 19th and early 20th century, many parks still have a small boating pond even to this day. Collectors will certainly be enthralled by the original condition of this model made for Hamley's, even despite showing signs of perhaps a few unsuccessful voyages, with a pre-sale estimate of £300-£400.

Further entries are currently invited for the sale. For further information, please contact Brian Goodison-Blanks
More about Brian Goodison-Blanks

Thursday, April 09, 2015 4:41:25 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Collectable Toys | Collectors | Maritime | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood's next Sporting & Collectors Auction on 25th/26th February 2015 has a good selection of antique firearms, arms and armour for all collectors. Included within the sale is a large single owner collection that has produced a few surprises along the way. Perhaps one of the most interesting is a rare Kolibri 2.7mm semi-automatic pistol, produced by Franz Pfanni, an Austrian watch maker.


a rare kolibri semi automatic pistol. 

A rare Kolibri semi automatic pistol.

Introduced in 1914, it was the world's smallest commercially available semi-automatic pistol, firing a centre fire 0.2g bullet. Only around 1,000 were ever produced as the pistol and round proved ineffective and it soon became obsolete.

American collectors still seek good examples and this piece numbered '15' will still be an attractive item despite suffering some rusting, with an estimate of £200-£300.

Also within the collection is another favourite for all antique firearms collectors, a .41calbre Remington Derringer over and under pistol. Even more enticing is the original leather holster that has the gun retailer's stamp. Estimated at £300-£600, it should certainly gain great interest with collectors on both sides of the Atlantic, eager to acquire one for their antique firearm collection.


a remington double barrel over and under derringer.

A Remington double barrel over and under Derringer.

More about Brian Goodison-Blanks

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 2:57:33 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Antique Guns & Firearms | Collectors | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Tuesday, December 23, 2014

After nearly 30 years, an extremely rare variation of a 1950s Matchbox model will be returning to auction at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood in our Sporting and Collectors Sale of 25th February 2015. The opportunity to acquire such a unique piece will be a great attraction to any collector.

Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood are honoured to have been instructed to undertake the sale of the collection of the Late Mr Phillip Tarbox. He was a passionate collector and member of The Matchbox International Collectors Association. His collection includes a rare variation of a Lesney ‘Model Of Yesteryear’ Y8, 1926 Cowley Bullnose Morris with a tow hitch.



An extremely rare Lesney First Series Model of Yesteryear Y8 Cowley Bullnose with tow hitch.

The story behind how Mr Tarbox acquired this rare variation of a well-known model is one that many collectors around the world dream of but only few ever have the opportunity.  As a regular collector and buyer at auction, a simple catalogue description of ‘ten boxed Models of Yesteryear and two unboxed models’ in a sale in Exeter in April 1986 piqued his interest and he purchased the lot for a modest price.

On closer examination, the Bullnose model revealed that it had a tow hook on the rear of the chassis and so further investigation began.  In the days long before email and social media, Mr Tarbox wrote to Matchbox and sent photographs of the model to confirm that it was correct.



Underside of Chassis.

Engineers from Matchbox thoroughly examined the piece and confirmed that it was correct and that it was not a manufacturing fault of excess casting or flash.  This was also confirmed by the MICA members and magazine editor at the Farnham swapmeet in September 1986, and published in the MICA magazine. (Vol 2 No4 1986).


Rear View of Chassis

It is not known how many of these variations exist and they rarely come up at auction. Mr Tarbox’s model in its original box and a copy of the MICA magazine with his photographs are included in the sale.  This provenance will no doubt help it achieve the upper end of its pre-sale estimate of £600-£800.

Why not discuss this on Twitter using the hash tag #MatchboxModel? Don't forget to tweet us @BHandL

More about Brian Goodison-Blanks

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 7:22:32 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Collectable Toys | Collectors | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Thursday, August 29, 2013

One of the great joys of being an auctioneer is in part re-living your childhood, a fact that is certainly true when cataloguing the Specialist Sporting & Collectors Sale of 18th September 2013 at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood's Dowell Street saleroom, Honiton.

a collection of action man figures in orginal boxes 

A collection of Action Man figures in orginal boxes

With original boxed toys that you remember driving your parents mad with demands for, it is extremely satisfying to finally get hold of them albeit then to only wonder what all the fuss was about! Perhaps its will always be a ‘boys and their toys’ thing or the fact we never grow up, but even seeing original boxed Action Man figures or Scalextric cars can be intoxicatingly nostalgic.  
It is this feeling that has driven the market from strength to strength with each new generation eager to reclaim a piece of their childhood memories. 
More about Brian Goodison-Blanks

Thursday, August 29, 2013 5:05:11 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Collectable Toys | Collectors | Honiton | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Monday, July 01, 2013

If I ever sarcastically said to my old boss "Well you learn something new every day", he would instantly reply "It’s a fool who doesn’t" and this is something I am often reminded of as a valuer.

Even something as simple as a nutcracker can reveal a whole new world as I have found since cataloguing a single owner collection of antique nutcrackers for the forthcoming Sporting & Collectors sale of 18th September 2013.


 a 19th century black forest carved bears head nutcracker

A 19th century Black Forest carved bears head nutcracker

Perhaps like many people I had only seen the typical lever type crackers once a year around Christmas, but the collection has opened my eyes to the wonderful world of nuts and antique nut crackers. There are a wide variety of materials and methods for cracking nuts and each of these vary again for different types of nut.


a 20th century 'tough nut'  table top percussion nutcracker

A 20th Century 'Tough Nut'  table top percussion nutcracker

From small brass 18th century crackers to 19th century carved wooden crackers from Germany and Italy, the collection has a good range for all enthusiasts. The appeal of nutcrackers is universal from the treen examples of  the Pinto collection in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery to the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum in America.

Some examples of the type of crackers included within the Sporting and Collectors Sale of 18th september 2013 can also be seen at

More about Brian Goodison-Blanks

Monday, July 01, 2013 2:16:44 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Collectors | Honiton | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Sunday, June 30, 2013

Among an interesting collection of Antique Firearms and Antique Arms & Armour consigned for Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s forthcoming Sporting & Collectors sale of 18th September 2013 is a fine example of an early 18th Century North European sporting crossbow.


an early 18th century north european inlaid sporting crossbow

An early 18th century North European inlaid sporting crossbow

Retaining the original string and waxed brindle of chord, the shape and inlaid decoration is typical of sporting bows used during the 18th century in shooting and hunting competitions.

First invented in Ancient China, the crossbow became more popular in Europe due to ability of novice bowmen to quickly become accurate and on target, relative to the long bow which required years of use and experience.

In excellent condition, collectors of Antique Arms & Armour will no doubt be interested in acquiring this item with a pre-sale estimate of £1,500-£2,000.

More about Brian Goodison-Blanks

Sunday, June 30, 2013 2:23:46 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Antique Guns & Firearms | Collectors | Honiton | Medals & Militaria | Trackback

RSS 2.0 Feed

If you enjoyed reading an article on this blog, why not subscribe to the RSS 2.0 feed to receive future articles?
Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood Logo Visit the Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood Web Site if you want to learn more about this fine art auction house and valuers.