Leopold de Rothschild CBE Collection Sells at Trains Galore

11 December 2012
imports_CCGB_otherpainting_87476.jpg Leopold de Rothschild CBE Collection Sells at Trains Galore
Paintings, railwayana and toy figures among the items sold at Special Auction Services. ...
Leopold de Rothschild CBE Collection Sells at Trains Galore Images

Among the many model locomotives, tenders and coaches sold at Special Auction Services' Trains Galore sale on December 5th and 6th were a number of items collected by Leopold de Rothschild, including paintings, posters, general railwayana and lots more. Before we look at the lots sold, here's a little history about the collector.

Leopold de Rothschild, or Mr Leo as he was affectionately known, harboured a passion for steam from early childhood. "Ever since I can remember I've loved steam engines. I must have been bord with a kind of virus -  a virus that effects many other people who are normally sane," said Leopold de Rothschild in 2005.

It was a virus long passed down in the Rothschild bloodline. From the early 1800s the Rothchilds were major financiers of continental railway development. Projects began in France and Austria but the railways soon expanded into the rest of Europe and beyond. Wherever the railways went prosperity soon followed. Communications became faster, freight became cheaper and access to raw materials became easier.

The 1870s saw new lines built across Latin America particularly in Brazil; N M Rothschild & Sons was appointed lead managers of a loan to purchase services and equipment for construction of 839km of new line to treble capacity for the Brazilian rail network. But perhaps the most significant project, at least for Mr. Leo, was the construction of a 12 ¼" gauge railway in the grounds of his family home in Exbury in Hampshire.

Plans were approved to install 1 and a quarter miles of track with a bridge, tunnel and causeway as well as a halt midway round the circuit. The railway was opened in August 2001 to an excited crowd of onlookers and with engines and carrriages named after his relations. "I was not allowed a train set as a child," he said, "and I could never have guessed that my dream of a railway at Exbury would come true." Sadly, Leopold died on April 19th, 2012 and Trains Galore included many of his prized collectables.

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One of the more expensive items to go under the hamer was a British Railways cast brass locomotive nameplate 'Pendragon' (above), with red painted background, from Standard Class 5 MT no. 73083, built at Derby, 1955, class built 1951 and 1957, 1000mm long, G, with folder 'With Compliments of the Public Relations Office', British Railways (Southern) enclosing 6 x 8 silver print of original locomotive, stamped and dated on reverse 31 May 1960. It sold for £4,400 - more than double its lowest estimate.

There were also some steam-related paintings from across the globe, including one by Utagawa Hiroshige III (1843 - 1894) called Steam Train seen from the Koigan-doei, Yokohama (left), two woodcut sheets from triptych, 1874, sailing ship Joki-sha shown on missing third sheet, 350mm x 470mm; with reference book on Japanese coloured woodcut railway prints. It sold for £290.

Another star lot was a Royal Mint GWR 150th Anniversary Celebrations Commemorative 9ct gold, silver and bronze Medallion Set, circular medals (right), 9ct example weighing 198 grams, silver example 153.1 grams, and similar bronze example, in fitted case, with set of four Hallmark Replicas 'Passenger Railway 150th Anniversary 1825 - 1975' Britannia silver standard stamps, in fitted case. Estimated at £2,000-3,000, the hammer fell on the lower estimate.

Alongside these, there were also some attractive toy soldiers such as a Britains Lilliput Series No. L/7 Farm Display Set (left), post-war set for double 'O' gauge comprising Fordson Major Tractor, Tumbrel Cart, Open Sports Car, Milk Float and various figures, animals and accessories, in original box with colourful paper label, G-VG, box F some discolouration and tape repair to lid corners. It realised £210.

We'll have a full report on Trains Galore in the February issue of Collectors Gazette but, in the meantime, make sure you take a look at our video of the auction to see what you're missing at the annual Trains Galore auction.