Catherine Southon was thrilled when a woman walked into her auctioneer’s office in Bromley to show her a classic 1960s clock with some great provenance.
The clock once belonged to Kenneth Williams, actor, comedian and diarist most famous for his roles in the Carry On films.
“I had always been a bit of a fan and once wrote to him after he recited a poem that made a reference to West Wickham and I got a lovely letter back from him,” Southon’s new client told her.
“Then I happened to go to a fundraiser for one of Robert Knox-Johnston’s sailing adventures in 1978 and the auction included this clock, which had belonged to Kenneth Williams, so I simply had to bid for it.”
The woman’s bid was successful; with the clock came a letter by Williams explaining, “This dear old clock has unfailingly wakened me since 1960 for every early film call I’ve had”, just the sort of proof of previous ownership that can potentially add hundreds of pounds to items if they are put up for auction.
Thrilled about her purchase, the woman wrote to Williams again and got another response from him pointing out: “It’s a good alarm… and never let me down and I am a stickler for punctuality!”
Southon is the professional art dealer who often appears on television, on programmes including Bargain Hunt and Flog it!
She says: “It is so nice to get someone to walk in with an item that has such a lovely story attached to it. Everyone has seen the actor in the Carry On films. I really like his response to her letter after buying the clock.
“He was clearly touched when he wrote: ‘Of all the articles I’ve ever given, this is the first acknowledgement I’ve ever received from the purchaser!!'”
Kenneth Williams was one of the biggest stars of British comedy in the 1950s to the 1980s, famous for his roles in the Carry On films – he was in 26 of the 31 filmed, more than any other actor.
He was a regular guest on radio game show Just A Minute for its first 20 years, while he also performed in Hancock’s Half Hour and Round The Horne, and was a much sought-after guest for his sharp wit on TV chat shows such as Parkinson and Russell Harty. The 30th anniversary of his death will be on April 15.
Kenneth Williams’ Swiza clock will be sold together with all three letters from the actor and is estimated to fetch between £60 and £100.
It will be included in Catherine Southon’s next auction at Farleigh Golf Club on Wednesday, March 7.
For more details on this item and the rest of the sale catalogue, visit www.catherinesouthon.co.uk.
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