Signed, sealed, delivered: ‘world’s largest’ private collection of celebrity autographs to be auctioned June 25
Britain’s king of the autograph hounds is parting with his 70-year collection of more than 100,000 signatures from 60,000 different celebrities
STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, UK – What may very well be the world’s largest private collection of autographs is currently offered in an online auction that closes on Sunday, June 25. The Clive Bullimore Autograph Collection includes the signatures of around 60,000 different celebrities, amassed by a former stockbroker over a period of more than 70 years. The massive assemblage representing a who’s who of 20th century pop culture is expected to make in excess of £100,000 ($127,600) in the sale, which is being conducted by the British auction house Sworders.
For Clive, who began autograph-hunting in the early 1950s at the age of 17, collecting has been a lifelong passion. He was hugely dedicated. From Monday to Friday he would commute from the small Hertfordshire town of Hoddesdon to his job at the London Stock Exchange, but on Saturdays he would return to London for a different mission: to visit the smart hotels, theaters, record stores and TV studios where celebrities might be found. Typically, he would scan the press for tips and exchange weekly information with fellow autograph addicts. Sometimes he would just turn up at the BBC studios and leave it to luck. As for those Hollywood stars who rarely visited the UK, Clive would send off a letter with a stamped addressed envelope, asking for a signed photograph or personal note.
Clive continued collecting for several decades after his retirement in 1992, after which time the Internet became a huge resource for him. However, he also continued to travel for his hobby and says he has had many thousands of face-to-face meetings with actors, musicians, professional athletes, politicians and other public figures. Clive was autograph-hunting in London when the COVID lockdown was announced. He returned home and spent most of next two years indoors, in isolation with his wife. It was during that time that the collection was organized and the decision made to prepare it for sale.
The vast collection, which numbers more than 100,000 autographs from roughly 60,000 different people, will be offered by Sworders in 600 lots arranged into three distinct categories.
There are around 100 lots of individual autograph albums that each contain multiple and varied signatures. Most are estimated at around £200-£300 ($255-$380) each. They include, for example, a 78-page album featuring the signatures of Jack Bruce (Cream), Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Slash (Guns N Roses), Robin Gibb (the Bee Gees) and Suggs (Madness). A 62-page album was signed by Elaine Paige, Colin Firth, Yoko Ono, Meat Loaf, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and many others.
There are also rows of binders packed with plastic envelopes containing signed photographs, flyers and autographed letters. Most have been arranged into themes or categories.
Of particular appeal to science-fiction fans is a lot comprising photos of 13 members of the Star Trek cast, 47 signatures from the cast of Dr Who and 33 from actors in the Star Wars franchise. It is expected to bring £400-£600 ($510-$760).
A series of signed photos and flyers by James Bond franchise actors including signatures of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, George Lazenby and Pierce Brosnan has an auction guide of £400-£800 ($510-$1,020). Clive ranks Roger Moore as being among the nicest of all the celebrities he has met. A particular draw to this lot is a set of seven postcards, one each for Moore’s Bond films, all signed by the star.
Close to half of the photographs were images taken by the collector himself. A group of 71 different photos of women musicians – an eclectic mix that includes Dolly Parton, Linda McCartney, Diana Ross, Nana Mouskouri, and Dame Vera Lynn – is expected to sell for £400-£600 ($510-$760).
Within the sporting section are three autographs signed by soccer legend George Best and most of the 1966 World Cup winning team.
Also in the collection are 68 lots of vinyl records – most of them relatively early pressings – signed by some or all of the artists who created them. A copy of Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones signed by Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood is among the most valuable single items with a guide of £200-£400 ($255-$510). Packed with girl power at £300-£600 ($380–$760) is a collection of 40 video cassettes, records and CDs by the Spice Girls, most of them signed by one or more members of the quintet.
The owner also met Amy Whitehouse on a number of occasions. A card inscribed “Hiya Clive! Happy new year Amy xx” is offered together with a copy of the single Take the Box inscribed “Hi Clive! nice to see you again! God bless Amy xx.” These are estimated at £200-£400 ($255-$510).
Clive says it was the thrill of the chase and the making of memories and friendships that fired his collecting rather than any notion of investment or value. He has not previously sold any of his autographs, although he often swapped duplicates with fellow collectors. He has relatively few gaps in the archive, and his few regrets are not having acquired the signatures of Marlon Brando or Madonna.
Clive’s family have chosen to keep just a few treasures of the collection that are especially meaningful to them. For example, his grandson has a book signed by Muhammed Ali.
Visit Sworders online at www.sworder.co.uk.