Selling off Titanic treasures – some articles are a pleasure to write….

An article about an auction of Titanic memorabilia and the man behind the auction – is the subject of a piece I’ve had published in May’s local lifestyle magazine Wiltshire Life.


Two articles from Fiona in May's Wiltshire Life

I’m proud to be a contributor to this publication where care is always taken to ensure that my work is showcased with style. This article is based on an interview with Andrew Aldridge, of Henry Aldridge & Sons, of Devizes – an auction house which specialises in Titanic stuff.

This year, the auction house is holding a number of sales of Titanic memorabilia, and one took place on March 31, with another in July. Andrew, who’s 38, has become an authority on Titanic after years of travelling the world valuing items from descendants of those who died, and those who lived.

I didn’t really know what an appetite there is for Titanic-related items. When I attended the auction, it was packed and items ranged from posters (some very beautiful and decorative) to pamphlets, leaflets, anything you can imagine that related to Titanic in any possible way. Even objects related to James Cameron‘s film are relevant.

Being the nosey person I am, I made a bee-line for the star lots, a first class luncheon menu which someone put into their handbag as a memento just hours before disaster struck. When we looked at it, we were surprised about how small it was – making the ‘putting it into their handbag as a memento’ really credible. The dishes on it made me smile – if only to demonstrate my ignorance of  high cuisine. (I can never understand why there are so many words for ‘sauce’! )

Did you know about this auction house in Devizes?

So first course was consommé fermier, cockie leekie, fillets of brill, egg a l’argenteuil, chicken a la maryland, corned beef, vegetables, dumplings and many, many more. However, even though such an item interests me – would I pay £76,000 for it? Ummm – no.

It’s the letters which really struck me as interesting and, if I’d had the money, I’d have been tempted by some of posters as they are so decorative. Also you feel a pull at an auction, it’s almost like a game or a race, where you feel the need to participate. I didn’t though because feeling the need is not the same as being able to afford it!

I also found a little snobbery around the room – my family were the only ones present with children and there was a certain sniffiness about turning up to such an event  with little people. I ignored those looks and tuts (not from any of the staff I hasten to add). An auction is a wonderful place for children to see old things, and in this case, history for real. In some auction houses, things can be touched. Children quickly sense the connection between the past and the present. I’ve always found taking a child to an auction is fascinating as they see things so differently from a parent. Their likes and dislikes are wonderful and illuminating.

Don’t worry if you missed this article or the sale, there’s another in July. Andrew didn’t give much away to me but did say that there would be some rare posters and a ‘unique Titanic archive’ whatever that might mean. So watch this space – I think a Titanic II is in the making…….



Bristol’s gorillas are up for sale? Want one?

Gorillas with style......

In the south west tonight there’s a little fundraising event going on in Bristol –  gorillas are being auctioned off.

Price tag – up to £10,000 each. 

What? I hear you exclaim.

Yes, this is one of several very successful ‘stunts’ that this area has seen over the last few years.
This involves an organisation in need of money, building up the tension by commissioning the creation of colourful models of animals.

These are dotted around the relevant area for quite a long time and then auctioned off to local businesses or individuals to raise money.

Tonight it’s all about gorillas, to raise funds for Bristol Zoo Gardens – a marvellous organisation for us living in the region.

These models have been dotted around for several months.
Watching the news tonight, the target of raising £100,000 by auctioning them off has been far exceeded.

The former swimmer Sharron Davies has bought a wonderful purple gorilla gilded with a silver leaf design. Where will she put it? I’d love to know.

Sounds mad – but I love it.

I recognise that the gorillas, all identical in size but all colourfully different, are not new.

We’ve already had pigs and lions in Bath.

And I’m sure someone somewhere has done the same with horses. But I think they are absolutely wonderful.
In Bristol, the gorillas popped up all around the city and captivated people, especially children.
They were not placed always in obvious places, though some were outside of particular business – perhaps those which sponsored their creation.
I regularly saw the dotty one outside the BBC signed by the DIY SOS team, one with colourful handprints outside Waitrose and a beautiful one in green pyjamas outside a city hotel.

Without fail, every time I saw these creatures at random times of day, photographs were being taken. It’s a gem for social media pr as well as traditional stuff.

They just brightened up the day when wandering round the city.

Even last week when attending an auction house near Bath, I walked into reception and there was a lion from a similar campaign. It was wonderful to see, you just have to touch it, feel it and enjoy it.
The PR value of these objects – which from a practical point of view could be seen as completely useless – has been powerful for the Bristol locality.
And for Bristol Zoo it may be a happy coincidence that one of their gorillas, Salome, gave birth to a new baby just this week. So gorillas are good, strong, local news this week.
The model gorillas will be a talking point for years to come for any business which snaps them up.

At the same time a local facility which carries out research into conservation of wildlife will now be at least £300,000 richer. Some people paid £10,000 for their gorillas.

My only wish – that I could afford to buy one too!!

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