Monday, August 5, 2013

Ronald Searle: "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines"

What is one to do when a fantastic illustration comes along but it is offered at a stratospheric price? As might be expected, the artwork receives no bids, and when the item is relisted the price slowly begins to drop--but not nearly enough to elicit any bidding activity. At some point, one expects, the price may be lowered to a reasonable level and find a buyer, but the owner, who turns 100 during this time period, decides he would rather keep it hanging on his wall than drop the price any further.

That's what happened to a terrific illustration by Ronald Searle from the title sequence of "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines" (Twentieth Century Fox, 1965). Initially offered in the $18,000 to $20,000 price range, it subsequently failed to sell for $13,000 to $17,000 and has not been relisted. Sale prices for Searle illustrations occasionally may reach this range, but it is far from the norm.

Ronald Searle, Title Sequence Illustration, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes, Twentieth Century Fox, 1965 

April 2, 2013 Original eBay Listing Price

May 9, 2013 Final eBay Listing Price

Ronald Searle, Title Sequence Illustration, "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes," Twentieth Century Fox, 1965
[End of eBay Listing]

Ronald Searle, Bill Richardson, and Allen Andrews. Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes (London:  Dennis Dobson, 1965), Pages 22-23

Elmo Williams:  A Hollywood Memoir (2006)
Mr. Williams is the owner of this artwork.

April 19, 2016 Update:  Elmo Williams, who had been the oldest living winner of an Academy Award, passed away in November of 2015. The Searle artwork was offered once again on eBay at a more reasonable price, and this time it sold quickly.

Ronald Searle's signature

eBay Listing Ended March 26, 2016

eBay Item Description

The artwork appears in the end credits of the movie.

Note:  As I've been writing, a major exhibition of Ronald Searle's reportage work for the American market is coming to San Francisco this fall. The eBay fundraiser for the "Searle in America" exhibition can be viewed here.

The Searle in America blog can be seen here.

Perpetua, the Ronald Searle tribute blog, is right here.

In addition to all this, my own Ronald Searle posts are right here. Happy reading.



  1. A wonderful piece but, yeah, vastly over-priced. Mr Williams is canny enough to know it's value and hang onto it.

    1. I agree. I had hoped it would keep getting relisted at a lower price, but this one had a long way to go.

  2. I happened to see it pop up on Ebay and snagged it! It's a beautiful, large format piece.

  3. I have one that is a hors commence (HC). Absolutely beautiful!

    1. Indeed. This post does not show the hors commerce lithograph you have.