Do you watch the television programme The Antiques Roadshow? I’m a big fan of the show and have watched it for decades. I particularly enjoy the occasion when a valuable item turns out to have been bought for peanuts at a car boot sale, or picked up for nothing at the local tip. I had a very similar moment at a valuation day I conducted in 2009 at Exeter. A couple originally from Wiltshire owned a skip rental business and always made a point of trawling through collected full skips, partly for recycling purposes, but also for the purpose of searching for items of value. In the past they had discovered items of jewellery, some even made of gold. However what they showed me atExeter, as far as I was concerned, was far more exciting.
A commercial picture postcard artist, by the name of Phil Millar, used the penname of “Pedro” and produced a large series of saucy seaside humour postcards in the 1960s. He took over where Donald McGill left off and in the more relaxed atmosphere of the 1960s produced far more suggestive cards than ever McGill could get away with. Found in the skip were 25 original artwork paintings, by Millar, from which the postcards were printed. The paintings had all survived their passage in the skip very well and, apart from a few Sellotape stains around the edges, the paintings were as fresh as the day they had been painted. Each of the “Sunny Pedro” series of cards is numbered and whenever this happens, it seems to act as a carrot to collectors, knowing that they can complete the series. Although the cards themselves are quite common and can be picked up for less than £1 each, each piece of artwork is unique and I had no hesitation in telling the couple that I would estimate them conservatively at £50 each, making a total figure of £1,250. They were lotted individually in our August 2009 auction and realised between £46 and £150 each. One person’s rubbish is another person’s treasure!
By Colin Such.