Recent Roller Sales in The United Kingdom

| March/April 1993

'Oron', 11 Avenue Road, Chelmsford, England CM2 9TY

In the UK the normal way to sell a steam vehicle has been to advertise it in one of the national preservation magazines, such as Old Glory, or in one of the specialist journals like Rolling, published by the Road Roller Association. However, just recently, the method of auctioneering has come into vogue and, quite surprisingly, one of the leaders in this field is none other than the world famous Sotheby's, which has its headquarters in 34 New Bond Street, London, with fifteen offices across the States with the main one in 1334 York Avenue, New York.

Established in 1774, the name Sotheby's has been synonymous with quality, professionalism and service in the world of fine art auctioneering, so it was something of a surprise to find out that it now handles auctions of collectors cars, commercial, military and steam vehicles and automobile. Moreover each auction is preceded by the issue of a superbly designed and extensively illustrated catalogue which contains detailed descriptions of every sale item together with historical notes and the estimated price range. Indeed these catalogues will most certainly be kept as valued reference books by collectors and museums throughout the world.

A recent auction was held in October 1992, by the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, when over 600 lots were offered up, including several steam vehicles that I was interested in.

One was a 1927 Fowler steam roller, Works #16961, which was initially bought by the Aberdeen, Scotland, County Council and was used on road construction and repair throughout the county. After that it provided the source of power to drive a sawmill and was then used to steam-aerate the soil in a garden nursery. This roller sold for 7,500 sterling.

Another was a 1923 10 ton Arm-strong-Whitworth compound piston-valve roller, Works #10R35. As there are only about seven of this type in this country, it was surprising that it only made 9,000.