Auction in progress at Phillips   s auctioneers in 1901    Getty Images (representational photo)
Auction in progress at Phillips s auctioneers in 1901 Getty Images (representational photo)

November, 1985. One of the greatest sales of cricket-linked articles took place as Phillip s auction of AE Winder s collection. Arunabha Sengupta looks back at the event.

Art collectors are pretty insignificant in the scheme of things. What matters and survives is the art. So said Charles Saatchi.

It may not be that true about cricket or so we collectors like to believe. After all, cricket collectors do get to be quite famous, especially in the small circle of er cricket collectors. And it is not really a far stretch to say that the major excitement of the lives of cricket books and cricketana collectors occur when one of them leave this world for the land where no over is called.

Yes, it is when the collection of some famous departed collector comes under the hammer the surviving lot feel keenly alive. These are the moments they live for. Unfortunately, these are the moments we will die for as well.

Auctions of cricketing items, including books, cricketana, autographs, signed photographs and so on, have been regular highlights in the life of the cricket tragic. Large auction houses have been involved in the sales, in recent years these have taken place in Phillips, Christie s sometimes even in Sotheby s and Bonhams.

As already explained, these events take on massive interest and expanse if it involves selling off the collection of some major collector.

The cricket books of Old Buffer Frederick Gale, for example, were auctioned off in a gargantuan event towards the end of the nineteenth century. Later, writer RS Holmes s collection became a major auction event in 1933. Again in 1954, EW Shepherd s collection came under the hammer with a lot of noise and fanfare. Even bigger was the 1966 auction of JW Goldman s cricket trove.

In fact, Goldman s complete set of Wisden Almanacs were sold twice. In 1966, they fetched 145. In 1972, updated with another three annuals from 1967 to 69, this extended set fetched 480 at Hodgson s. Today the price of this same set with or without the addition of subsequent almanacs will definitely range way beyond the five-figure mark.

However, one of the greatest sales was at the Phillip s auction of AE Winder s collection in November 1985. This was spread over two days, and dubbed The Sale of the Century . Not surprising, because Winder s collection had a lot of items which originally belonged to John Arlott.

Some of the items for sale are listed below

Article Price
Harrop s chromolithograph of English and Australian cricketers 646
Felix s lithographs of The Eleven of England 1,450
70 bound Vanity Fair prints 1,895
Spofforth s caricature by Spy 2,453
Bonnor s caricature by Ape 3,010
A collection of the American Cricketer 500 plus
Britcher s Grand Matches of Cricket, 1795 758
Complete collection of Fred Lillywhite s Guides 1,784

The total bid was 105,414.