Snap up a Snaffles print

PUBLISHED: 10:41 15 June 2009 | UPDATED: 15:06 20 February 2013

Antique print, Bonhams'

Antique print, Bonhams'

Some rare works by the local Warwickshire artist Charlie Johnson Payne, sometimes better known as Snaffles, will appear in Bonhams' biannual specialist Snaffles sale at Knowle on April 26. Senior valuer and auctioneer Gerry Berwyn-Jones, BA(Hons),...

Some rare works by the local Warwickshire artist Charlie Johnson Payne, sometimes better known as Snaffles, will appear in Bonhams' biannual specialist Snaffles sale at Knowle on April 26. Senior valuer and auctioneer Gerry Berwyn-Jones, BA(Hons), MRICS, previews the event..


Bonhams' in Knowle has been holding dedicated sales of Snaffles' work since 2001. Prices for his prints range from 150 to 7,000 and we believe that this latter sum is the highest recorded for one of his prints. His commercial career started as a war artist for "The Graphic" on the Western Front in 1914 and continued into the inter-war years, producing over 60 different prints, which ranged from racing and polo to hunting scenes.


The latter is always well represented in Bonhams' sales and the April sale is no exception. This is exemplified by 'Tonnage', illustrated, which is not seen very often, but reflects the theme of parody which was one of the tools of Snaffles' trade. This is part of the enduring appeal of many of his works that have a strong element of stereotyping. It is this art of caricature which personalises his prints and finds a devoted following.


Furthermore, much of his work was destroyed in a warehouse fire at the end of the Second World War, so the market is not awash with his prints. Like all his most popular examples this is signed in pencil, bears the Snaffles blindstamp and, critically, has a significant amount of hand colouring, a feature that is always desirable to Snaffles collectors. Consequently, the estimate for this 41 X 36cm print is 800 to 1,200.


'Staff College Drag Hunt' is another very rare work by Snaffles. At 55 X 75cm it is the largest of the three illustrated and like 'Tonnage' is signed, but the number of vignettes around the main image adds to its commercial appeal and so it is expected to make between 1,500 and 2,000.



Both of the above were produced in the inter-war years and the extensively hand coloured prints from this corpus are eagerly sought by aficionados. The last example illustrated, as the title 'The Informers' implies, was produced during the Second World War. This too is relatively rare and is expected to make between 600 and 900. At 44 X 56cm it is larger than 'Tonnage', but the image itself is not quite as commercial as the one depicting the corpulent gentleman in 'full cry'. However, all three reflect the zeitgeist of the 1930s and 1940s and as such tap-into the nostalgia for this era.


For enquiries regarding Snaffles contact: Ellie Spencer on 01564-776151 or ellie.spencer@bonhams.com

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