Alan Blakeman of BBR Auctions, Elsecar takes us on a trip to the Alps with a snowy-themed collectables idea.
It’s that time of year again where, to escape the post-Christmas lull, we flock in search of holidays and city breaks to have something to look forward to in 2018.
While some countdown to the all-inclusive summer holidays in warmer climes, others hope for slopes, winter sun and an icy adventure with ski resorts the perfect tonic to cure the winter blues.
I’ve written before about my lifelong passion for the great outdoors; if I’m not down at sunny Elsecar, I can be found clinging to overhanging rock faces in some remote region across the globe.
A slippery adventure
My first overseas climbing foray was not based on seeking out rock faces – it was an overly ambitious 16 year old seeking to ascend some of Europe’s most iconic and dangerous peaks in the form of the Matterhorn and the Eiger’s north face.
Fortunately we got lost walking up to the formidable Eiger and so lived another day. Moving on from the challenge of the Eiger’s crumbling rock face, we headed on to Zermatt and were successful there in ascending the famous Hornli ridge on the incredible Toblerone shaped Matterhorn.
Although technically quite easy, I quickly realised that snow and ice were simply too unsafe for my liking, more so today with global warming issues affecting mountains worldwide. But I was instantly inspired by the spectacular snow covered Alps and have returned many times for both rock climbing and walking.
The Alps have attracted explorers, climbers and thrill seekers like myself since the 18th century, with the peak season November through to Easter. Of course, most only associate or visit such beautiful regions for their annual skiing trip.
Whilst Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn is akin to upmarket Chelsea, there are many others catering for the seasonal masses who enjoy the scenery, the downhill delight and especially the Après Ski evenings in a cosy and atmospheric wooden chalet, tastefully adorned with vintage ski and climbing gear.
Snow covered collecting
From a collecting viewpoint, early/period ski posters for various ski resorts became a real artistic outlet for illustrators and these in turn have become highly collectable by well-booted ski enthusiasts.
Some of these posters can be eye wateringly expensive. The more famous the resort or familiar the image, such as the Matterhorn in Zermatt or Mont Blanc in Chamonix, generally equates to higher prices; these generally well up in the high hundreds when good examples come on to the market.
As with most collectables, the later the production date usually means the lower the price, whilst condition is equally important in relation to their worth.
This particular art form can also be found for American and Canadian ski areas that boast an equally eye catching range of winter sport posters, too.
Lower priced ski collectables can be found in the form of old postcards capturing the early days of snow sports, when the major towns were mere small Alpine villages, no concrete structures in sight. Remember, these were posted from the resorts to family and friends – so seek these out at your local antiques fair or centre.
Old poster images and postcards of these winter playgrounds can be purchased as modern copies for a fraction of the price of old examples. But at the end of the day, when they become second hand (we are but temporary trustees of all collectables) they are relatively worthless, whereas the originals will always command a decent price.
Skis the limit
Interestingly, old equipment in the form of skis, boots, sledges and clothing are used for dramatic decoration in many of the resort bars and restaurants, serving as reminders of how quaint and low key all used to be compared to the current high tech skis and clothing.
Starting off as a mode of transport, skis were originally two different sized sticks attached to the feet. Overtime, as skiing became more recreational with villagers enjoying a break from the city, racket-like snow shoes became leather boots which gave way to plastic snow boots in the 1960s.
One thing I always preach is collectables should be acquired because you like them, or have some relevance to you. Never view as investments; like stocks and shares, house prices, even gold and silver, such can fluctuate. But, the enjoyment they
give over many years, reminding you of great holidays, wonderful places, breathtaking scenery, even the evening rebel rousing apres parties – the posters bring it all back.
Plus, unlike the modern day household decor they WILL be worth something when you come to part with them or pass over to the next generation – so it’s not all downhill.