Unique items: 2017 auction review

Some fascinating unique pieces featured at auction this year. Political figures remain particularly popular, but many of the names were different to those in previous years - reflecting the global ideological tilt to the right.

Interestingly, magic seems to be one of the main growth sectors of the market.

Top unique item sale of 2017

This sample bag has a rocky history. It was the very one Neil Armstrong used on the Moon. 

Apollo 11 bag

This bag is one of the most valuable pieces of space memorabilia ever sold

That makes it one of the most precious artefacts of the space program. However in 2015 the bag somehow ended up at an auction house. It sold for $995. 

NASA launched a legal challenge to get the bag back, but the courts sided with the buyer. She sold it for a space record $1.8m this year. 

Second best unique item sale of 2017


Walt Disney had this piece drawn up for investors 

It’s difficult to picture a world without Disneyland, but there was once. Walt Disney dreamed it into existence over the course of a long weekend with long-term collaborator and illustrator Herb Ryman.

This hand-painted map was the result. It’s as close to Disney’s original vision as it’s possible to get. No wonder it sold for $708,000 when it crossed the block at Van Eaton Galleries in June.

2017’s other important unique item sales

Houdini poster 

Houdini's Water Torture was a groundbreaking trick

Houdini posters are hugely desirable pieces, particularly those that advertise his famous Water Torture act. This poster from 1912 sold for a massive $114,000 in February, a new world record for a magic poster.

What is it about the Titanic that still fascinates us? In April a fur coat worn by a stewardess on the stricken vessel achieved £150,000 ($192,375).

Like it or not, 2017 was the year of Trump. The divisive president is becoming an increasingly big draw at auction, with a set of his golf clubs selling for $24,000 in July.

James Buchanan is one of America’s lesser known presidents. He was elected in 1857 and served until 1961. His campaign flags are particularly rare. We saw one go for $256,000 in March.

An original emergency decal from the Apollo 11 command module made $147,500 at RR Auction. It pointed the way to the emergency hatch used to free the crew on their arrival back to Earth. 

Not one of the biggest sales of the year, but one of the more unusual. A banknote  supposedly found on the body of Billy the Kid was offered with an estimate of £300 ($375) but went for £1,500 ($1,881). If it can ever be fully authenticated, expect that value to jump to around $1m.

The most unusual unique item sale of 2017

Hitler boxer

Hitler left these boxers in a hotel in Austria

To the victor the spoils as they say. Although I’ll bet no one had boxer shorts in mind when they came up with that particular proverb.

Hitler left this pair behind in a hotel in Austria in the 1930s. They sold this year for around $5,500.

It was a breakout year for…


Donald Trump memorabilia is on the up

As we said earlier, Donald Trump memorabilia has gone through the roof this year. One of the most impressive results was the £6,000 ($7,353 ) paid for one of his ties at a charity auction.

Will this trend continue on to next year? We certainly think so.

It was a year to forget for…

Despite some high-profile sales this year, OJ Simpson memorabilia is still not a good investment. Find out why here.

One you may have missed

Whisky a Go Go

Whisky a Go Go is a legendary LA venue 

LA nightclub Whisky a Go Go is one of only a handful of establishments that can claim icon status. Since its opening in 1964, thousands of bands have played its tiny stage - including the Doors, Frank Zappa and Guns N’ Roses.

In January, the pink neon sign that hung above its doors in the 70s and 80s made $48,300.

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