Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Dan Dare Sale

I've been running around for the last couple of days on various family matters which have been taking up every spare moment. I'm back now for a short break!

Took some time out this morning to pay a visit to an auction house where the collection of the late Bob Rothwell was up for sale. A huge number of collectable Dan Dare items went under the hammer—so to speak—and some were fetching silly amounts of money. Although I couldn't take any photos of individual items, I did sneak a couple of shots of the hall.

The sale was a "Two Day Specialist Collectors' Auction". Yesterday was mostly ceramics and jewellery whilst the majority of the lots for today (4 March) were toys, militeria and coins.

Bob Rothwell was a huge Eagle and Dan Dare fan and it was sad to think that a collection Bob had spent a lifetime putting together was sold off in half an hour. I'll not go through the lots one by one but there were some rarities on offer that I'd never seen. I'm not a big DD collector myself and you only get to appreciate a collection when you see it on display. I remember a superb get-together of Eagle collectors held at Margaretting a few years ago where a lot of Eagle-related and DD-related puzzles, games, toys and whatnots were laid out on tables and you could really see why people were so keen to collect as much as they could. Today, everything was stuffed into boxes: piles of old Eagle comics, stacks of books relating of Eagle characters and a lot of other 1950s juvenile science fiction. Not all of it in the greatest condition, admittedly, but I still felt it was a shame that books that Bob had lovingly tended had all been dumped into cardboard boxes rather randomly and labeled "quantity of...", "selection of...", etc.

A few highlights from the auction included a Dan Dare bust, only the third ever made by John Fowler and originally sculpted for Southport's celebration of Dan Dare back in 2000. This went for £120, although all prices also had a 15% buyers premium plus VAT where applicable (and VAT was applicable on the 15% premium, so even if you bought books which are not subject to VAT, you still paid 17.5% VAT on the 15% surcharge!)

A couple of other prices: a Dan Dare spaceship (boxed) went for £150, a presentation belt (Crafton) and tie (Theros) in original box went for £70, Dan Dare 'Planet Gun' (Merit, £80), Dan Dare 'Atomic Jet Gun' (DGMT, £320), Eagle stationery (notepaper & envelopes in a presentation box, £46), Dan Dare 'Interplanetary Stamp Folder' (£60), Dan Dare 'Space Bagatelle' (Mettoy, £70), Dan Dare 'Remote Control Helicopter' (£50), Dan Dare jigsaw puzzles (Peter Pan, £150), various other jigsaw puzzles (£170), Dan Dare 'Space Control Radio Station' (£65), film strips and cine viewer (£150), Dan Dare 'Space-Ship Construction Game' (£30) Dan Dare draughts and 'Interplanetary Dominoes' games (£200), Dan Dare 'Space Race Treasure Hunt' and various stencil outfits (£170), Dan Dare tinplate guns including Ray Gun, Lone Star diecast gun, Planet Gun and Rocket Gun (£110) and a Dan Dare 'Visionmaster Telescope', field glasses and compass (£120).

Other Eagle-related items included a large quantity of Eagle comics for £650, a copy of the first issue (£50—a bit of a bargain), a Riders of the Range elastic belt for £55, Eagle Projector (£36), various packs of cards (Dan Dare, Girl, Riders of the Range, £34) and three Riders of the Range and PC49 jigsaw puzzles (£38).

The weirdest description actually came from the previous day's auction where an Ingersoll pocket watch was described as having "the dial decorated with a scene from Dan Dare as a cowboy"...

I know there are loads of fake Dan Dare watches available through eBay but I'm surprised at a reputable auction house not recognising Jeff Arnold and the Riders of the Range when they see it, especially as other Riders of the Range merchandise were on sale in the same catalogue!

Here are a few more gems from Bob's collection.


  1. Brilliant blogpost as usual Steve.

    I'm interested in what you said about the shame of a collection split up. It reminds me of Denis Gifford's collection being split at auction. I guess it helps remind us of our mortality and that those coming after us are not the same as us individually. All of our tastes differ. Your collection will be different from mine etc.

    And I wonder what these items will be worth in 100 years time? I suspect as objects of the 20th Century, they'll be antiques, but they won't have the childhood associations we have attached to them! So enjoy them while you can

    Thanks again for those great photos.

    Norman the philosopher :-)

  2. Hi. I'm from the Southport Visiter newspaper and I'd really like to put something in the paper about the auction. Could you email me on jo.kelly@liverpool.com or call 01704-398339 asap. Thanks, Jo

  3. Sorry, the 01704-398229 would be a better number to get me on. Jo

  4. I can agree about the watch as my husband has an original dan dare watch which was a gift to him when he was young and is nothing like the picture you show. Curiosity getting the better of me I wonder whet it would be worth, my husband will not sell

  5. Interesting stuff and particularly I like your pic of the Dan Dare bust.

    The sculptor did everything right except perhaps the easiest thing, the Dare eyebrows... where's that characteristically sharp upkick?!

    I'd like the see the bronze original in Southport though, and do an article for my blog www.starcruzer.com

    As you can see, Frank Hampson has been one of my heroes down the years.



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