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Halloween collectibles – keep your movie memorabilia, the reality is spooky enough!

With Halloween arriving, the world of collecting inevitably looks toward horror memorabilia. The auction world is full of items from the fiction’s most frightening characters – Michael Myers’ signed mask, an autographed copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a Frankenstein movie poster.

Well, you can keep them. For me, the creepiest collectibles are those that come from real-life creatures of the night. The ordinary can quickly become the extraordinary, the mundane transformed into murder most foul.

Take for example, the Albert Pierrepoint memorabilia collection.

Albert Pierrepoint, memorabilia, collection, hangman, pierrepoint, executioner, halloween, collectible,

Albert Pierrepoint (1905-1992) was your average Yorkshire schoolboy. An average schoolboy who, aged just 11 years old, was asked to complete a “when I grow up” exercise in class, to which he responded: “When I leave school I should like to be the Official Executioner”.

That’s a morbid statement that is likely to have sent social workers into a frenzy whichever way you look at it, but in context its something (slightly) less sinister than the murderous desires of a young boy.

Albert was the son of Henry Pierrepoint who, along with his brother Tom, were the UK’s top choppers in a time when capital punishment was still legal. Following the family tradition, Albert took the lives of almost 500 of the country’s criminals in his long-lived career including some of the most famous war criminals and high-profile murders.

The collection, which includes items from each of the family members, is nothing short of chilling. Having recently rifled through its contents at Paul Fraser Collectibles, I can confirm that it sent more than just a small shiver down my spine.

On the surface, there is nothing in the collection that will make you jump out of your skin: a journal, a watch chain, photographs of the family. It’s when you put the items into context that their gruesome nature becomes apparent.

The journals see the Pierrepoint’s coolly calculating the weight and drop of their victims. “Very heavy body, ordinary neck” – just another day at the office for Albert.

The chain, a fine silver piece befitting of the UK’s official executioner, was once attached to the watch that counted down the final seconds of hundreds of lives.

The photographs, somewhat sinister in sepia, show the ordinary men going about their otherwise ordinary lives. Not even Albert’s wife knew of his occupation, at least until he retired. But place these next to the plaster casts of Albert Pierrepoint’s face and hands and the man is temporarily resurrected, bringing a haunting character to the collection – This was the last face that hundreds of criminals ever saw, the hands that secured the noose around their necks.

No spooky movie or horror novel can match the grim reality of this collection.



Norman Rockwell at Sotheby’s – Taking Stock of Rockwell

Norman Rockwell is often thought of as a genteel, safe artist – the laureate of America’s cosy hinterlands who painted a lovingly idealistic vision of the US, as seen in works such as Freedom from Want (1943) and Saying Grace (1951) – which is up for auction at Sotheby’s in early October with an estimate of $20m.

Rockwell Saying Grace

Saying Grace (1951)

He is still seen as the great chronicler of that nation’s post-war days of plenty, often quoted as saying, “I paint life as I would like it to be”.

This is certainly the case with his earlier works, however his later paintings, those completed after he left the Sunday Post, indicate a sense of disenfranchisement with America – and a move towards a warts and all depiction of the issues that lie at the root of the national psyche.

The Problem We All Live With by Norman Rockwel...

The Problem We All Live With

In 2011, following his successful re-election as President of the United States, Barack Obama hung Rockwell’s 1963 painting The Problem We All Live With on the walls of the White House. The painting shows a young African-American girl, named Ruby Bridges, being escorted to her new, previously all-white elementary school by US Marshalls in 1960.

On the wall behind her we can clearly make out racial slurs and the stain of a tomato. Rockwell places us squarely in the position of the mob – it is clear that his intention is to make us take stock of the very real horror of this situation.

Other paintings such as Murder in Mississippi (1964), which deals with the murder of civil rights activists in the South, show a nation that was waking up from its dreamy post-war slumber and moving into a new era that would bring fresh challenges – Vietnam, the civil rights movement and the radical overthrow of the established order that the 60s and 70s brought in.

Rockwell changed along with the US, and although there is still in those early paintings something nebulous, a warmth born of the adoration of his public, it is possible that those later, darker paintings reflect more truthfully the America that he knew and loved.


How to spot Lord Lucan

Is Lord Lucan still alive?

And if so, where is he?

This blog post won’t help solve either of those two questions, I’m afraid. But it will give you a better chance of spotting the errant Lord should you ever run into him.

Lord Lucan is widely believed to have bludgeoned to death his family’s nanny in London on November 7, 1974, after mistaking her for his wife.

His car was found in Newhaven on the south coast the following day, but since that time his whereabouts are unknown.

Many think he committed suicide out in the English Channel, others believe he escaped abroad, with some evidence suggesting that Lucan was in hiding in Africa for several years.

Lord Lucan

Lord Lucan with wife Veronica Duncan

Sightings have ranged from a restaurant in San Francisco to a bar in Botswana.

The High Court pronounced him dead in 1999.

Now medical notes from a Harley Street doctor, which reveal that Lucan suffered a badly broken nose in 1963, are coming to auction on September 26, reports the UK’s Express newspaper.

“This medical card is a small clue that could be used to easily identify the absconded Lord Lucan, if he was ever found,” Deborah Doyle, from auction house Duke’s of Dorchester, told the publication.

The notes state: “Struck nose on steering wheel of boat columnella profuse bleeding at time.”

The notes have a £150 (approx. $250) estimate, a fair valuation considering a Lucan-signed letter sold for £430 ($700) earlier this year.

So if on your travels you spot a man in his late 70s, with an aristocratic bearing and signs of a once-broken nose, ask him for an autograph.

We’d be delighted to add it to our autographs for sale.


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