There’s an undervalued poster coming up at a provincial auction in Cheltenham (and the auction’s tomorrow – Tuesday – sorry about that).
Given that this Harry Riley poster usually goes for well north of a grand, I am expecting it to fetch more than the £100-200 estimate, even taking into account its charming mis-attribution to British Railways and the 1950s. There are another two Harry Riley posters thrown in with it too, just to make it even more of a bargain.
There’s another of his posters on offer too, with a similarly daft estimate.
But that’s not the real news story. Lurking further down the listings is an entire world of Harry Riley items. There’s artwork, paintings and a multitude of family portraits. These pictures are him in his studio with his daughter, Barbara.
There are cartoons and sketches.
Scrapbooks and advertising material.
And even a gigantic pile of ephemera including his complete correspondence with the BBC. I have to give you the complete description of that one because it’s fantastic.
Quantity of Harry Riley (1895-1966) ephemera including 1940’s letters from The British Broadcasting Corporation, Southern Television, Savage Club, 78rpm gramophone record “Harry Riley Cartoonist Corner”, quantity editions of Sketchpad and other Periodicals, quantity dinner menus and entertainment programmes including 40th Anniversary London Sketch Club and others and large quantity of Harry Riley illustrated menswear catalogues and other advertising material and ephemera (1 bag and 1 box)
But the auction is also very sad. What’s on offer here – in a multitude of tiny lots – is an entire archive. And it’s going to be broken up, which is heartbreaking, because once sold like this it will probably never be assembled again. I hope the NRM are there and bidding, and bidding hard. It would be a crime to let this disappear.
£180 for Newquay and £120 for Ilfracombe! With one or two exceptions the rest of the Harry Riley archive seemed to be disposed of at very low prices too. As you say, heartbreaking, and a disaster for whoever in the future plans to write the definitive biography. Mixed emotions though, because it meant, with a twang of guilt given the above, I could snap up four lots of miscellaneous advertising items.
Yes, mined emotions indeed – I’d be feeling just the same in your shoes. I wish I’d got onto this earlier and nagged a few people about it. And bought that Newquay poster myself…
Can’t believe no one in the Riley family wanted to keep those family portraits. So sad! I feel the same when finding those anonymous family photos and albums in markets and in auctions on and off line. So sad they will lose their identities.