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What is Jaguar Automobilia Collector?

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Popular Collecting Themes

The Jaguar Mascot (from the Gordon Crosby prototype to the present day).

Jaguar Brochures

Jaguar Christmas Cards

Jaguar Posters

Le Mans Automobilia


WHAT IS JAGUAR AUTOMOBILIA COLLECTOR?  Ian Cooling introduces us to a fascinating aspect of the Jaguar hobby

People enjoy their Jaguars in many different ways. For some, it is the snarl of a well-tuned XK engine powering along the straight past the grandstand. For others, that priceless moment when the rebuild is complete, the key turned (or button pressed) and the engine actually fires! Others enjoy the friendship of the Jaguar Clubs or simply wafting through the country lanes on a Sunday with the top open and a pint in prospect.

Another strand in the Jaguar hobby is fuelled by the collector's instinct. This too can take many forms, but tends to start with the cars themselves. My own experience is typical. After some rackety Mark VIIs and Mark 2s, my first serious Jaguar was a Series 2 FHC E-Type. I then started adding various items that related to the car. First, came brochures, road test reports and a new handbook; then the same for the two other E Type series, then badges and mascots. By then I was well and truly in thrall to my newly-discovered hobby. Gradually, my collection worked back to those early days of Swallow Sidecars in Blackpool. I also widened my scope to collect photos, posters, paintings, books, letters, press packs, models, marketing give-aways, calendars, trophies and so on. En route, I developed my own definition of these collectables or automobilia: "Anything to do with cars, except cars" - plenty of scope there!

My aim here, is to introduce you to a number of different collecting themes. Like me, you may start (or have already started) a collection related to your car(s). Or you may have focused on Jaguar's competitive history, perhaps majoring on their triumphs and tears at Le Mans. More widely, you may already have a collection of mascots, with Jaguar mascots being just one strand within that collection. Others may fall into the same trap as me and end up ranging across the whole history of the company and all aspects of Jaguar automobilia.

This multi-strand approach can actually be useful for the dedicated collector. Every collecting strand will run dry from time to time and there is nothing more frustrating than auction after auction, autojumble after autojumble with no result. With several themes in play, it will usually be possible to keep the collection growing throughout the year. You may then discover the same three constraints as I did: the bank manager, the size of the house – and the wife!

Having defined "Automobilia" I should also make clear that by "Jaguar", I include all the predecessor companies too: SS Cars, Swallow Coachbuilding and Swallow Sidecars. So, the true brochure collector will not only be interested in brochures for the likes of the E Type and the Mark 2, but will also be looking for publicity items showing the pre-war cars and side-cars right back to the 1920s. This will also be true of the model collectors. For some years, coverage of cars from the 1950s forward was very good (sometimes too good) but pre-1950, the selection was very much thinner. However, this has changed in recent years with models of SS Cars and Swallows starting to trickle out.

Books are another fascinating collecting focus. You have the double benefit of reading what the author has to say about our cars, the drivers, the company and the personalities, and also the collectors' pleasure of seeing the shelf filling up. One book collecting theme could be individual cars - much has been written about E Types, Mark 2s and the original XK Series, for example. Another might be to home in on biographies of Jaguar drivers, past and present.

These examples only scratch the surface. You may decide to collect owners' handbooks, or Jaguar key rings, or badges, or stickers. Indeed, as I say above, my definition of automobilia is carefully crafted to include practically everything! I hope this article will encourage you to become a Jaguar Automobilia Collector or, if you collect already, then to open up new collecting themes for you. The images below illustrate some popular themes, which I shall be exploring.

Jaguar brochures are where most of us start out on the automobilia trail, usually collecting brochures related to our own car(s). There is a view that the only really interesting brochures are the older ones. The two brochures in this photo tell a different story. The XJ220 is one of the most sublime car bodies ever created. Originally intended to be powered by Jaguar's mighty 6 litre V12 engine, production realities dictated that it was launched with the TWR 3.5 litre V6 engine. The prototype was the only car ever to be fitted with the V12 engine. A tiny number of sales brochures for the V12-engined car were produced and an even smaller number reached the general public, making this one of the rarest post-war Jaguar brochures. It is the front brochure in my photo.
Sooner or later Jaguar Automobilia collectors home in on the iconic Jaguar mascot. Below, I explore the origins and evolution of the Company mascot over the years. But I shall also look at Jaguar mascots from other sources, like this one. This is a fine example of the Jaguar mascot produced by the "Desmo" company, a prolific producer of a wide range of mascots and other motoring accessories. This mascot was produced in the company's Animals and Birds range during the inter-war years and preceded the Company's own mascot. Indeed, one story tells us that it was seeing one of these mascots mounted on one of his cars that led Sir William Lyons to commission his own mascot. His typically curt description of the "Desmo" offering was "A cat shot off a fence"!
Badges are a collecting theme with two major sub-themes. Some collectors focus on badges related to the cars, while others collect badges for the various Jaguar clubs across the world – and down the years there have been hundreds of them. My photo shows one of the club badge collectors' holy grails. The UK Jaguar Driver Club (JDC) issued 100 "Founder" badges to their early members. Not all have survived and this photo shows JDC Founder badge no 13 - the lowest number I have ever seen.
Jaguar's racing and other competition history is a very strong collecting theme (we shall draw a discreet veil over the ill-advised excursion into Formula 1!). This aspect of automobilia collecting can range very widely: over posters, trophies, tickets, paintings, badges and rally plaques, original photographs, drivers' autographs and so on. Race programmes have a particularly enthusiastic following, with those for Le Mans being especially desirable. This photograph shows an original programme for 1955, the year of the tragic crash. It has the manuscript annotation in French on the front cover "Annee de l'accident. 82 Morts."

Books will enter the collectors' world before long. Again, there are many sub-themes: books on the cars themselves (of course), but also those who want to read the drivers' stories as well as the historians' view of the same races. The books by the men who managed the company have interest as well as those looking to another bout of restoration as winter approaches.

The book I have chosen to illustrate just one of these sub-themes is a copy of racing driver Duncan Hamilton's ghost-written autobiography "Touch Wood". This book celebrates his whole career but with a predicable focus on those golden years in the 1950s when he was Jaguar-mounted and regularly in the frame, including winning Le Mans twice (1953 and 1954). The book is a collector's item in its own right, but this copy is greatly enhanced by bearing the signatures of both Duncan and Sir William Lyons on the title page.
Prints and (better) paintings cover the whole range of Jaguar subjects. Predictably, most feature the dash and drama of the competition scene. But others place the cars in more day-to-day situations. Buy prints because you like them, not as the good investments they are claimed to be, because very few are. If your wallet can stretch to it, original art will score over prints every time. Not only as investments, but also because of the unmatchable look and feel of the "real thing". The example I show here is a privately commissioned oil painting of a Mark VIII or Mark IX saloon running through the lanes on a moonlit autumn night. It is by Roy Nockolds, the Company's artist of choice for much of the 1950s. This work is a fine example of his great skill in handling the effects of car lights at night. Not only has he captured the throw of the headlights perfectly, but the stab of the brake lights and the dim glow of the rear number-plate light are also exactly right.

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Latest Jaguar Automobilia Auction Launches this Month - September 2012

After its usual lengthy gestation, Ian Cooling’s Jaguar Automobilia Auction will launch this month and it has certainly been worth the wait!

Lots span a period of over 70 years of the Company’s history from 1933 to 2000 and within that time-frame the selection on offer is huge. Entries range from the usual brochures, badges and books to a wide variety of posters, hardware and items from Jaguar’s illustrious competition history.

There are particular strengths in the XJ220 section which features some rare hardware as well as rare press packs and other literature including two copies of Philip Porter’s book, one with its original mailing box and one without. The E-type section has a particularly wide range of brochures, including a good selection from North America. There is also an original of the first and very rare factory showroom poster for the 1961/62 model year and the unique cut-away drawing of the V12 engine by S. E. Porter. This shows the quad-carb engine fitted to the Series 3 E-type and the drawing came from the Motor archive.

The XK series of sports cars are also well-represented. The star lot this year is Sir William Lyons’ personal copy of the leather-bound album created to celebrate the 7-day record set at Montlhery by the XK120 fhc in August 1952. This copy is signed in Sir William’s own distinctive hand. There is also an original of Roy Nockolds’ striking showroom poster of the event with the car running high on the banking as dawn breaks. One of my favourite Jaguar images. Differently, there is a fine copy of the brochure for the XK120SE – the rarest of all the XK brochures.

Automobilia related to Jaguar’s competition successes will form one of the largest sections in the catalogue and the variety is huge – from original works of art by the likes of Nockolds and Scianna to a fine selection of original showroom posters and signed prints, including one of Le Mans 1953 by Nicholas Watts signed by Rolt, Hamilton, Moss and Lofty England. That is a group of signatures that can never be repeated. There is also one of Win Percy’s racing suits signed by him and one of the medallions presented by Tom Walkinshaw to those members of the team directly involved in the 1990 Le Mans win.

There is also a small section of automobilia related to Ecurie Ecosse. This includes one of each of the two car badges, two bottles of the “Patron’s Choice” 8-year old whisky, one empty and one ¾ full and both signed by Hugh McCaig. A copy of “Ecurie Ecosse” signed by David Murray and a huge hand-tinted colour photo of the 1957 Le Mans-winning Bueb/Flockhart D-type. This photo is 42ins by 38ins and still in its original wooden frame. Very rare and probably unique.

Finally, two other leading entries are the maroon-coloured showroom signs from the 1960s. One is the larger hanging sign for the forecourt and still has both faces of the double-sided sign in the cast-iron frame. This is another very rare item indeed as most such signs have had the two sides removed to be sold separately and the frame discarded. The second sign is the smaller single-sided sign intended for internal use in the showroom. Both are in exceptional condition with minimal rust or chipping and this adds to their attraction.

Some of these items are illustrated here and all (and many more) are shown on Ian’s website under the PREVIEW section.


This is Sir William Lyons’ personal copy of the leather-bound commemorative photographic album produced by Jaguar Cars for those who took part in the XK120 high speed runs at the Montlhéry banked circuit on the outskirts of Paris in August 1952. That event set four world records and saw the XK120 fhc, LWK 707, average 100.31 mph for seven days. Truly a performance worth commemorating! The album is signed in Sir William’s distinctive hand. (e£14,000-15,000)


These are two of the most beautiful Jaguar-related artefacts I have seen in nearly 40 years of collecting and dealing in such items. This magnificent matching pair – a fountain pen and a ball-point pen – are certified as 18 carat gold. Both pens have been enhanced by the fitting of a superbly-cast Jaguar head on each cap with diamonds set as the eyes. The fountain pen is fitted with an 18 carat gold nib by Cross. The ball-point pen is marked “750” (the metric mark for 18 carat purity). The fountain pen is unmarked. The pens are accompanied by a signed certificate from Michael Platt the prestigious goldsmith and jeweller, confirming that both pens are “18ct Yellow Gold” and that both are set with “small Diamond Eyes. Both are beautifully proportioned with a hint of art deco styling in the fluting of the body and both are beautifully balanced in the hand. Almost certainly unique and the vendor suspects that they were specially created as a personal presentation set. Both are in Fine condition. (e£700-800)


An original Roy Nockolds miniature of Fangio’s Mercedes 300SLR chasing Mike Hawthorn’s D-type in the early stages of that fateful Le Mans in 1955. Oil on canvas and bearing Eoin Young’s description and price tag on the back. Although beyond any doubt a Nockolds original, this painting is unsigned and the estimate reflects this. (£200-250)


“Dawn at Montlhéry” Roy Nockolds’ iconic 1952 image of the record-breaking XK120 fhc running high on the Montlhéry banking at dawn. One of the most evocative Jaguar images of all time, Nockolds drew inspiration from a photograph taken by one of the staff photographers for “Vachon Photographe”, the Parisian agency who were appointed official photographers for the Montlhéry record run. This poster is a full-size original and measures 36ins x 24ins. Vsl creasing. Would mount and frame up superbly. Fine and rare in this condition. (e£500-750)


1938 SS 100 3½ litre Finecast 1/24th scale white metal kit. The series of historic car models created by Wills Finecast of Sussex in the 1970s set new standards for the detail and quality of the castings. All are contained here in the original pre-formed plastic trays unopened and sealed with a heavy sheet of plastic. Kit is mint and seldom seen in this condition. (e£75-100)


It will have been a long time since you saw this set of documentation on sale at the same auction. These are the Owner’s Handbook, Service Manual and Parts Manual for the XJ220. All are in fine condition. To be sold as three separate lots with estimates ranging from £100-350. There has been much pre-sale interest in this trio.

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Prototype Gordon Crosby Mascot sells for World Record Price of £42,500

The star lot in Ian Cooling's 2011 Jaguar Automobilia Auction, the bronze prototype of Frederick Gordon Crosby's well-known Jaguar mascot, sold on the hammer at £42,500. This is a world record price for a single item of Jaguar automobilia.

The prototype was created in 1938 and remained in the family until 1996, when it was consigned to Brooks' Goodwood auction in June 1996 by his son Michael. Subsequent ownership was fully documented.

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