Month: March 2018

TAX 1: Rare number plate sells at auction for £92,000

A “taxi” car registration plate has been sold at auction for £92,000 after a rare appearance on the open market.

The TAX 1 number plate had been in private ownership for 40 years ahead of the sale by Humbert & Ellis Auctioneers in Northamptonshire.

The winner, who was bidding online and was not present, bid £78,000, rising to £92,000 including buyers fees.

It is not known if the plate, which auctioneers described as “head-turning” will be used on a taxi or private car.

Auctioneer Jonathan Humbert said: “We get a lot of generic plates that can be low value but because of the UK font, in this case the 1 can look like an ‘i’ so it’s much more sellable.

“They are notoriously difficult to sell and this is a great result for our vendor.

“A lot of armchair valuers will say – that’s worth £100,000 – but they’re not the ones who get their money out of their wallet.”

The auction house had estimated the value of the number plate as between £80,000 to £100,000 before the sale.

Concorde nose cone set to soar at auction

Last summer Humbert & Ellis Ltd offered the bomb release button from the Lancaster bomber of 617 Squadron that unleashed the ‘bouncing bomb’ which destroyed the Möhne Dam on May 17, 1943, but it is a more recent innovation in focus this time.

The auction house has estimated this original Concorde nose cone dating to the 1970s at £45,000-60,000 in its February 22 auction near Silverstone in Northamptonshire.

Rare by definition, this is thought to be the only unused nose cone from the few that were originally made for the Concorde fleet by BAC Aerospatial.

Standing 3.3m (11ft) high on a 4ft 6in (1.35m) diameter base, the cone enabled the aircraft to achieve supersonic flight and make a flight time of just of 3.5 hours possible between Paris and New York.

The cone, which was a key feature of the ‘droop nose’ Concorde design, is offered at auction for the first time.

Auctioneer Jonathan Humbert said: “We appreciate this is not an inexpensive item but I’d be hard-pressed to think of a more exclusive and iconic item to sell than a famous nose cone from the world’s fastest commercial plane.”

Concorde was the first supersonic passenger-carrying commercial aeroplane and was built jointly by aircraft manufacturers in the UK and France. Its first transatlantic crossing was on September 26, 1973. The world’s first scheduled supersonic passenger service followed on January 21, 1976—British Airways flying from London to Bahrain and Air France from Paris to Rio de Janeiro.

The glamorous world of Concorde was only affordable to a few, however, and huge operating expenses meant New York became the only regular service. Concorde commercial flights ended in 2003, at which point just 14 had gone into service – and the image of Concorde had also been shaped by the tragedy of July 2000, when Air France Flight 4590 crashed on take-off, causing 113 deaths (although this was the only fatal accident in 27 years of operation).

Brunel technical drawing instruments are sharp seller at auction

On February 22 Humbert & Ellis Auctioneers near Silverstone offered the set estimated at £800-1200, but after a competition between room and internet bidders it was hammered down at £6000 (or £7400 including premium). The drawings set was bought by Swindon council for a new Brunel exhibition it is holding.

The set is contained in an oak case, with a brass plate inset into lid engraved I K BRUNEL.


Humbert said: “It came from an octogenarian client of mine, a lady whose great-grandfather was a contemporary of Henry Marc Brunel, Isambard’s son. I’m a little unclear as to whether my vendor’s great-grandfather and Mark Henry might have studied together.

“Henry Marc was also an engineer. In about 1902, shortly before his death, the drawing set and a set of Smollett’s History of England books were gifted to my client’s great-grandfather by Mark Henry.

“The drawing set has IK Brunel written upon so would have been his father’s, and it is likely Brunel had many such drawing instruments, travelling round for many jobs. He probably wore a few out, kept his best for home maybe, but what is lovely is to suppose what feats of engineering were invented using this very set – possibly the Great Western Railway, Clifton Suspension Bridge, the SS Great Eastern – who knows?

“They had been in my client’s family ever since and were consigned without expectation or reserve. Her phrase was long the lines of ‘if they make couple of hundred quid and do somebody a good turn, I’ll be delighted’. She was certainly delighted by that result.”

The Smollett’s, a four-volume full set from 1848, were also offered at Humbert & Ellis, each with IK Brunel’s written signature on the insides of the front cover. Estimated at £800-1200. They sold for £1250 to a private buyer.