Movie poster bonanza is further evidence of post-COVID auction phenomenon, says Chris Ewbank

Movie poster bonanza is further evidence of post-COVID auction phenomenon, says Chris Ewbank


Further evidence of auctioneering entering a new age of prosperity came with the near sell-out movie poster sale at Ewbank’s in Surrey on August 21. With 341 out of the 344 lots changing hands – a sell-through rate of over 99% – this was one of the most successful poster sales the auction house has ever held.

With pre-sale hopes of £47,000, the final total came to over £92,000.

Ewbank’s Sports & Entertainment Memorabilia department took over as the company’s leading specialist department in 2019 with over £1.25m in auction sales by the end of the year. This year the total already stands at around £1.2 million, with four months still to go.

Highlights from the latest sale included an original poster for the 1942 film Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, which took £9,000, a 1962 Dr No poster from the original James Bond film, which sold for £5,200, and a rare surviving poster from the 1964 comedy Carry On Cleo – most were destroyed after a court case – which made £3,200. Another Bond poster, for the 1965 action thriller Thunderball, went for £2,200.
From Sci-Fi blockbusters like Star Wars to kitsch 1950s B movies like Revenge of the Creature and satirical comedies like Dr Strangelove, online bidders dominated as usual, snapping up 94% of lots offered, with almost everything either well within estimate or significantly above.

“From the recent sale of the Norman Whiteside Football Collection to our more general fine antiques auctions, selling rates have risen significantly through the pandemic and have remained high after lockdown was eased and we were able to provide more – albeit limited – access to the auction rooms themselves,” says senior partner Chris Ewbank.

“Of course, the digital revolution means we now regularly sell to buyers from over 30 countries at our sales, and this global reach gives us a good idea just how much the world has moved on in the past few months.

“I have already been talking about how attitudes towards and adoption of online bidding has moved forward ten years in a matter of weeks, but what we are now also seeing is that this development is continuing as strongly as ever, which indicates that this positive change is here to stay.”

One of the concerns of many auction houses at the start of lockdown was that they would run out of material to sell, but the phenomenal response to online bidding shown since then has resulted in more collections emerging from the attic for sale.

“The outstanding success we have been able to demonstrate in the past three months has attracted the attention of quite a few potential consignors who have now approached us with some fairly amazing art and collectibles that might not have seen the light of day for some time to come in other circumstances,” said Chris Ewbank.

“The international media made a great deal of the Whiteside auction trouncing its pre-sale estimate of around £140,000 to total around £200,000, and this together with publicity surrounding our other recent auctions has clearly caught the imagination of those with things to sell.”

While Mr Ewbank is understandably delighted by this extended run of success, he also argues that it is important for other reasons.

“The UK economy and people have taken a real battering since March and so we need to boost confidence, save jobs, get cash flowing and support the tax base to revive health and prosperity. Firms like ours are doing our bit – and are very pleased to do so – and I am just as thrilled that the wider British art market has been able to show its resilience during this period of crisis. We are of course complying with Government advice, for the protection of our staff clients and buyers.”

Ewbank’s have a packed programme of autumn events and will soon be announcing a landmark auction to be held before the end of the year.

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