FOR WHOM THE BELL RINGS
Rare sculpture of Big Ben up for auction
A rare model of ‘Grand-Ben‘ commissioned by the British Travel and Holidays Association in 1965 to promote Britain in America, is to be offered at auction. The world-renowned clock tower of the Palace of Westminster has been chosen as the country’s iconic symbol abroad and
The model was to be used for promotional purposes. While the tower is known colloquially as “Big Ben”, the name actually applies to the “Great Bell” contained within the tower, but is usually extended to include the tower itself. The official name of the tower in which ‘Big Ben’ stands was called the ‘Clock tower‘, until 2012 when it was renamed ‘Elizabeth Tower’ to mark the diamond wedding of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The 99.5cm tall model was produced by set designer-turned-model maker Jack Inglis at his London ‘Toltec Studio’ and came complete with a working clock, lamp and its own bespoke travel case. The model took six weeks to make and was completely handcrafted from wood and paper, with a hand-painted finish.
Correspondence between the Association and the sculptor details the specifications requested, such as: “I would like it to be exactly to scale” and “colored like the original”, with a “working parliamentary light and clock”. A Daily Express the 1972 article features the sculptor with his handcrafted model, alongside the real “Big Ben” on Westminster Bridge, where he is presented as creating “masterpieces of realism from balsa and cardboard”. The article goes on to say that perhaps the most flattering testimony to her talents came from the keeper of Tower Bridge, who, when shown a picture of the model, adamantly refused to believe it wasn’t the real thing.
Senior Valuer, British and European Sculpture at drawwatts, Silas Currie Leigh-Wood said: “We are delighted to offer such a fine example of model making craftsmanship, representing one of London’s most iconic buildings”. The model was given to the current owner directly by the sculptor for his birthday 17 years ago and has remained in its box all this time.
It will be auctioned at Dreweatts in a sale entitled Property of the Phillip Lucas Collection, Spitalfields House and other properties including garden furniture and statues on December 1, 2022 and carries an estimate of £800-£1,200 (lot 655).
For more information on Dreweatts and upcoming sales, visit: www.dreweatts.com
Dreweatts Auctioneers was established in 1759 and is one of the UK’s leading auction houses. It comprises 22 specialist departments ranging from Fine Art (Old Paintings, British and European Paintings, Modern and Contemporary Art), Jewelery and Watches, Silver, Wine, Books and Manuscripts, British and European Ceramics and Glass, Decorative Arts and Modern Design, Ephemera, Furniture, Home Sales and Collectibles, Clocks, Barometers and Scientific Instruments, Asian Ceramics and Works of Art and Live Steam and Model Engineering. He regularly organizes specialist sales from a team of highly qualified experts, totaling more than 70 sales per year, including curated interiors sales, sole proprietor collections and home sales.
Drewatts is a member of the Gurr Johns group of international art consultancy companies. Its main sales room is Donnington Priory in Newbury, Berkshire. It has a showroom in London on Pall Mall, St James’s and caters to a global clientele.
In addition to auctions, the company offers expert services for individuals, lawyers, executors, family offices and trustees to provide the necessary advice to assist in the management of estates and estates and market valuations, for a possible sale. Dreweatts appraisal services include free online auction appraisals, virtual appraisals, home visits and appraisal days at our auction rooms, where customers can receive advice on buying and selling. sale from Dreweatts market leading specialists.