22/07/2023 General News
I am writing this just a few hours before Ben Stokes’ men go into battle once again with the old enemy at Old Trafford, in their heroic attempt to win back the Ashes, writes David Broom.
If you are at all gripped by cricket, as you read this on Saturday you will probably be a mess of frayed nerves as the England team once again puts its supporters through the emotional mill.
It is that level of emotion and involvement which is what makes cricket-lovers so passionate about their sport. And that passion is there even when there is no game being played; put two cricket fans together, and very soon they will be comparing statistics, debating who is the greatest, and sharing special memories of moments they have witnessed.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, cricketing memorabilia will always find a buyer in the saleroom; anyone who enjoys the game wants to be surrounded with things that remind them of the magical summer days when they are part of that Lords hum, or that Holies stand raucousness.
That cricket can stir deep emotions is unarguable, just witness the hoo-hah caused when Australian wicket-keeper Alex Carey ran out England’s Johnny Bairstow in an entirely legal but sportingly questionable way in the Ashes test match at Lords last month.
Although both English and Australian prime ministers were drawn into the debate, it wasn’t as serious as the infamous ‘Bodyline’ tour of 1932/33, when diplomatic relations between the two countries were almost severed.
Apart from the fact that a hard-fought Ashes series is currently in progress, why am I writing about all this in an auction column? Well, next week’s summer Fine Sale at Keys includes some fascinating cricketing memorabilia, including some which harks back to that controversial Bodyline tour.
Nowadays we can all see our cricketing heroes online, but in those inter-war years, one of the most popular ways of ‘collecting’ top players was via cigarette cards. Between 1875 and 1940, these trading cards, issued by tobacco manufacturers, were a real phenomenon. They document popular culture, depicting show business and sporting stars.
Around 80 such cards from the 1920s and 1930s are contained in a collection which is being auctioned alongside an autograph album containing the signatures of many of the leading cricketers of the day, including Harold Larwood (a key figure in the Bodyline controversy), Jack Hearne, Ernest Tyldesley and William Whysall.
Another lot features an album containing hundreds of cricketing cards, including caricatures of famous cricketers issued in 1926, and Australian test cricketers of 1932/33 (the Bodyline winter) issued in Australia – as well as many county cricketers and also rugby teams from the era.
The sale also includes several photographs of touring international sides from the 1920s and 1930s, all of them signed be veery player.
These lots come from an extensive collection of cricketing memorabilia which we hope to see more of in future sales. The current Ashes series may be over in a week or two’s time, but the passion and enthusiasm of cricket lovers is something which will always be there – and always evident in the saleroom.
Keys Fine Sale takes place on Wednesday 26th, Thursday 27th and Friday 28th July.