Pioneers at auction: London to Brighton Run Sale


Leather-bound tomes and maps from the early 1900s are part of this fascinating auction

Bonhams’ London to Brighton Run Sale (November 2) is an homage to the earliest days of motoring, and fittingly so, as it takes place on the weekend of the 121-year-old rally. Among the lots, there are leather-bound tomes, vintage car parts and, of course, vintage cars.

It’s the 1903 Darracq 24hp Model JJ Rear-entrance Tonneau that leads the sale. It’s one of only two known to exist, and the Darracq was delivered to a Parisian owner around 1903. He used the car as an accompanying vehicle (touriste) for the Paris-Madrid race – known darkly as the ‘race to death’ – on which half the field crashed and numerous were killed, including Marcel Renault died in May 1903.

More: The dawn of Renault

Its four-cylinder engine can take the Darracq to 50mph, and it would be a worthy contender on the London to Brighton Run. But, with an upper estimate of £650,000, the owner may just stick to concours…

Of the 314 lots, it’s the literature that’s most evocative.

A collection of motoring touring books and guides from the early 20th Century (estimated to sell for up to £350), including Claude Anet: Through Persia in a Motor Car and Francis Miltoun: The Automobilist Abroad, speaks of a nearly forgotten era.

There are old, leather-bound manuals such as a first edition of W. Worby Beaumont’s Motor Vehicles and Motors (1900), that could sell for £500. And a collection of road maps charting routes across England and Wales from 1913 seems a fascinating lot, perhaps fetching £350.

Postcards and posters are among other items consigned to the sale.

For an estimated £4000, an album of photographs of the 1900 Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial contains 37 monochrome images from April to May that year, documenting drivers and passengers leaving from Hyde Park and making their way up to Edinburgh before arriving back at Whitehall. 

This isn’t an auction of Le Mans winners or Formula 1 memorabilia; Bonhams’ London to Brighton Sale contains lots predating Motor Sport itself.


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