Sale of the Week: A day on the river

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Sale: The Henley Sale

Location: The Boat Tent, Stewards’ Enclosure, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. tel: +44 (0)8700-270 083 or +44 (0)7850-964 356
Catalogue online at www.bonhams.com

Date: Saturday July 19, 10am and 2pm (telephone bidding service available).

Need to know: This annual sale first took place more than 20 years ago, when it focused on traditional rivercraft and ephemera to coincide with the Henley regatta. It has since grown to encompass all manner of objects with a marine flavour, including paintings, fishing memorabilia and nautical artworks – even garden statuary. The market for vintage rivercraft has remained relatively constant during the past couple of decades, with the result that those seeking to emulate the antics of Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat can often secure a water-worthy vessel for relatively little outlay, be it an elegant “slipper” launch or a Canadian cedarwood canoe.

Highlights: By far the most impressive vessel on offer is a 75ft Victorian river launch called “Belle”. Built at Kingston upon Thames in around 1894, its original steam engine was replaced with a more user-friendly diesel unit in 2004. Fitted as a floating restaurant, it can accommodate 28 people in a luxurious saloon or 70 for a buffet meal. Smaller craft include a 20ft day-launch built by the celebrated maker Andrews of Bourne End in 1923, estimated at £15,000–£17,000. As well as the 15 or so other boats on offer, the sale includes steam-powered models, stationary engines and locomotives. Among the best is a salesman’s model of a steam locomotive named “Hercules”, which dates from around 1840 and is set to fetch up to £20,000. Other models include a 1930s steam-powered speed- boat (£600– £900) and a 24-inch mahogany replica of a sculling boat (£400– £600). Several bookcases constructed from the bow sections of vintage vessels are also on sale, estimated at around £300 each.

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