A Great Auction

An account of James and Sons February Auction and a regular photo gallery at the end.

This post looks back at James & Sons’ February auction, which took place on Wednesday. It was a general sale, albeit with posters predominating.


When lot seven attracted a bidding battle that pushed the price up to £180 it looked like a promising sign. There were a few other good signs among the early lots, and lot 114, a set of bakelite Draughts pieces, fetched £70, remarkable given that it had held no great promise of success – £10 would have been an acceptable selling price as far as we were concerned.

Lot 114, a remarkable overachiever at auction.


We had some cameras and photographic equipment in the auction, and these lots really got the bidders going. Four lots fetched over £150 a piece, lot 352 reaching the dizzy heights of £330. Two other lots in this category, nos 364 and 368, went for bigger than expected prices, £65 and £45 respectively.

Lots 351, 352 and 354 – selling prices £160, ££330 and £250.


My general opinion of trying to sell books for anything approaching significant money in these days of internet searches is that 99% of the time it won’t happen. I was therefore modestly satisfied that an 1898 hardback edition of Oscar Wilde’s “Ballad of Reading Gaol” sold for £800, minimum estimate. This particular edition is fairly rare, though not the rarest (the latter would have fetched several thousand), and the copy we were selling was in good condition. I had helped to value it, conducting an internet search and establishing that was indeed a rare and special edition and worth decent money. It was also on my advice that we ‘lowballed’ our own estimate in the hope of attracting attention. Lot 427, a selection of Dickens books in nice, though not special, bindings went over estimate as well.

Lot 427.

The Tail End

Lot 460, a collection of antique and collectable plates found some eager bidders, and went well beyond our expectations…

Lot 460.

Lot 498, some German anthropological slides, got the bidders going in a major way – the bidding finally ended at £290, about ten times as much as we had expected it to go for.

Lot 498 – the full collection (left), and a sample slide (right).

There was one final flourish – lot 510, a minor piece of Sherlockiana, did better than expected.


I secured three lots at bargain prices (£5 a piece to be exact). First lot 338:

Lot 492 was also bird themed – figurines of birds, some ceramic and some wood – and at 83.33p per bird definitely a bargain…

Lot 492 in its new location, my bedroom window ledge.

Lot 501, “A Little Book About London” was my third lucky strike…

James and Sons next auction takes place on the 21st (stamps) and 22nd (militaria) of March, and a full catelogue can be viewed here or here.


My usual sign off…

Marxism 2018 – Day 1 Continued – Science and Slavery

Continuing my account of Marxism 2018, with the second and third meetings of the Thursday.


This post continues my coverage of Marxism 2018, which started with an introductory post. In this post I cover the second and third meetings of the opening day, which for me were Camilla Royle on the Politics of Science and Ken Olende on What Was Unique About The Translatlantic Slave Trade.


Camilla’s actual title was “Is science political?” Most scientists would like the answer to this question to be no, but desirability and truth are two different things. Camilla demonstrated many examples of science being coopted for political ends. This was an excellent talk and it set the stage for a splendid discussion.

3E before the second meetingSpeaker and chair preparing for the meetingspeaker and chairCamilla ready to speakBookmarksEnvironment and WindrushThe chair introduces the meetingCamilla speakingCamilla speaking - close upSarah contributes to the discussionAnother contribution to the discussionCamilla summing upDisplay


This talk was accompanied by slides which makes it easier to convey an impression of the ground covered. 

3CPosters, 3CPosters,3C II3C IIFront of 3CPosters 3C III3C IVPosters 3C V

Meeting setup
The big screen, speaker and chaiur before the meeting.

The chair opening the meeting
chair Jay introduces the meeting

Ken Olende giving his talk
Ken starts his talk

The presentationRoman Empire 100 BCE

Moorish cavalry under Lusius Quietus
A depiction of Moorish forces fighting for the Roman Empire – while Rome was a slave holding society skin colour did not come into the equation.

Slaves in Roman CarthageSlaves in CarthageGladiatorsJanissariesMansa Musa

Slave trade routes
The extent to which the translatlantic slave trade dwarfed its predecesors

13th century slave market
This was a slave market in Yemen in the 13th century

Slaves close-up
As this close-up shows skin colour again was not decisive.

Benin bronzeIndentured labourersSlave shipThe storming of the Bastille

Olaudah Equiano
I heartily recommend that you read Olaudah Equiano’s book.

Gillray cariacatureToussaint L'ouvertureLiverpool

William Cuffay
London Chartist leader William Cuffay – the establishment used the same sort of terms about him as they did about slaves.