After threatening to do so for many, many months I finally managed to spend last Sunday at home in my study “clearing out”.
Generally speaking I am a reasonably tidy and organised individual, but I do have a tendency to keep things a little longer than really necessary, and so “clearing out” often reveals interesting artifacts. This Sunday was no exception.
Two items were really highlights. One was a letter from my wife written from her hospital bed over thirty years ago, telling me how amazing I was. I had to read it over and over to make sure it was actually me. It actually was, but I seem to have gone down hill somewhat since the letter was penned.
The second highlight though did show that although I may have gone dowhill, I now spend considerably more money when entertaining my wife. I found the tariff card for our honeymoon hotel showing that I paid six pounds per night for dinner, bed and breakfast for the two of us, and that even at such attractive rates only booked us a room for four nights.
Also in my study are three large box files which house all the details on all the cars I have ever owned, from my first mini van purchases in 1972. I really do love cars and automobilia.
The term ‘automobilia’ covers a wide range of items associated with cars, trucks, motorbikes another motorised vehicles. It mainly refers to the bygone era of handmade signs, crafted bonnet mascots and ephemera full of period charm and it is amazing to see just what is marketable to the automobilia collector!
The most popular items tend to be car bonnet mascots, racing and owner’s badges, and advertising signs but anything from hubcaps and spark plugs to petrol cans and lamps could be sold to an enthusiast and items will fetch anything from a few pounds to a few hundred pounds!
Car mascots, placed on the top of the radiator cap are generally expensive, although smaller or lesser-known makes can be found for less. A mascot marked with a high quality maker’s name such as Lejeune, Red Ashay or Lalique, is highly prized and could realise well over a thousand pounds. Rare mascots from the period 1900 – 1930 tend to be the most sought after and a glass one from that time is incredibly desirable. The newer mascots from after 1940s are more mainstream and reasonably priced but their popularity is growing.
Grille badges issued by motoring organisations, such as the AA and RAC and car clubs are eagerly collected. High quality badges are made from chromed brass embellished with coloured enamels. Again, badges from earlier tend to be more desirable and thus more expensive with some realising around the two hundred pound mark. Badges from the 1950s onwards are more easily found and cheaper.
Original signs from garage forecourts have a wide popularity amongst automobilia collectors. There are enamel signs which tend to be more desirable if they carry a well known company but much cheaper that the porcelain signs, produced mainly in the 20s and 30s by companies such as Esso and Mobiloil, that are rarer, more sought after and more expensive.
And if the collector has the room, there’s always the petrol pumps themselves!