Monday, October 10, 2011

A Collection of Caricature Medals by Ronald Searle

You know there's a problem somewhere when seven items, in this case brilliant silver commemorative medals designed by none other than Ronald Searle, are photographed for an auction catalogue and only six are present on the day of the sale. It sounds kind of sloppy to me. 

Nevertheless, getting five of the "Six Fathers of Caricature" set together is indeed still something of a coup, along with "La Gloire" (bottom of the first photo) and eight other bronze medals also designed by Searle. The buyer did all right for himself, no? I wonder what kind of restitution the auction house has to make to the seller, assuming it was they who misplaced the medal (Thomas Rowlandson, center) that would have made one set complete and, presumably, more valuable? In the auction house's defense, the photos are four years old, and this is the third attempt to sell the set at Bonhams. It might be the seller who misplaced or even sold one of the medals. In addition, the bronze medals have diminished as well, from twelve in the 2007 sale to eight by the 2008 sale! What gives? Attrition?

Clockwise from the top:  George Cruikshank, James Gillray, Pier Leone Ghezzi, La Gloire, William Hogarth,  and Annibale Carracci. In the center, but not in the sale, is Thomas Rowlandson.

Lot No: 236AR
(n/a) Ronald Searle (British, born 1920)
Collection of Cariacture medals
Including 'Six Fathers of Caricatures', the set of six silver metal medals depicting Annibale Carracci, Pier Leone Ghezzi, William Hogarth, James Gillray, George Cruikshank and an additional medal by Searle entitled "La Gloire", each numbered from the edition of 100 and dated 1976-79, commissioned and struck by the French Mint, 95mm diameter, together with eight bronze metal medals depicting Charles Philipon, John Heartfield, Jose Guadalupe Posada, James Thurber, Willhelm Busch, George Grosz, Otto Dix and "L'Humor" by Searle, each numbered from an edition of 100 and dated 1979, 90mm diameter (14) 

Sold for £750 inclusive of Buyer's Premium

Lot Notice:
Please note that 5 medals from 'Six Fathers of Caricatures' are offered in this lot. The illustration for this lot is incorrect.

Not from this auction, but from the November 12, 2007 sale 15395 at Bonhams, lot 112, comes this photo of bronze medals by Searle, the same as the ones that were offered here, only there were a few more. Several seem to have been lost by the attempted sale in 2008:
Clockwise from the top:  James Thurbur, José Guadalupe Posada, Edward Lear, André François, "L'Humor," John Heartfield, Otto Dix,  Charles Philipon, and George Grosz.  In the center are Wilhelm Busch (top) and Tim Bobbin (John Collier). Not in photo, but in the 2007 sale: Captain Francis Grose.
Captain Francis Grose

The sale at Bonhams, Knightsbridge, September 21, 2011:

For more on Searle's medals, your first stop should be the Ronald Searle Tribute Blog:

My most recent post on Searle describes what happened when he and two other cartoonists submitted the same gag to the New Yorker.  I promise you won't find this information anywhere else:     

The Grose medal: 

The Bonhams 2007 New Bond Street sale: