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Sworders to offer photos from the Profumo Affair, the mother of all political scandals
Photos from the Profumo Affair, the mother of all political scandals.



STANSTED MOUNTFITCHET.- Political scandals come and go and today we are seldom surprised when our elected representatives fall below the standards expected of them. However, back in 1963 when it emerged that John Profumo had lied to the House of Commons regarding an extramarital affair with the 19-year-old model Christine Keeler, the nation’s faith in the ruling classes was shaken to its core. The credibility of the Macmillan government was severely damaged and the fallout contributed to the Conservative government's defeat the following year. The relationship between politicians and the public was never quite the same again.

Almost 60 years later and dramatisations of the Profumo Affair continue to appear on stage and screen. Interest in Keeler and the showgirl Mandy Rice-Davies has seldom subsided.

Sworders’ Out of the Ordinary sale on February 15 includes a series of candid photographs of both Keeler and Rice Davies taken at the height of their notoriety.

A rare nude studio photograph of Mandy Rice Davies was taken by an unknown photographer sometime in the early 1960s. At the time the showgirl from Llanelli was mixing in surprisingly important social circles, enjoying the company of Lord Astor at Cliveden. Famously, when challenged in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her. She replied: “He would, wouldn’t he?” 
The photo, originally purchased from the estate of the late actor Peter Wyngarde, is guided at £500-700.


For her role in the labyrinthine events of the Profumo Affair, Christine Keeler was sentenced to nine months imprisonment for perjury. A series of photos in the sale were taken by Ray Bellisario (1936-2018) on the day she was released from Holloway prison in June 1964. The original negatives were purchased by the vendor in 2013 when a series of silver gelatin prints were made in an edition of ten, all signed by Keeler.

'Freedom - Laughing' and 'Freedom - Mini car' are expected to bring £400-600 each while ‘Freedom - First Day Out Of Prison, Lying In A Field' (Full Length) is guided at £800-1200.

A group three of glamour photos by unknown photographer, including one of the model topless, is expected to bring £400-600. The original negatives for these prints are held by the Christine Keeler family archive.

Rare poster shows how Vichy France viewed the British war effort

Posters celebrating the effort of Britain and its allies in the Second World War have become familiar images in Western popular culture. But how was the war reported from the perspective of the other side?

Sworders’ Out of the Ordinary sale on February 15 includes a chromolithograph propaganda poster published in occupied Paris by the Vichy government in 1942.
Signed with monogram of the artist ‘SPK’, it depicts Winston Churchill as an octopus with its tentacles representing British military intervention in the Middle East and Africa.




The text reads Confiance... Ses Amputations Se Poursuivent Methodiquement (Have Faith – The Systematic Amputations Are Continuing).

The desire was to spotlight the areas of conflict that existed between Vichy French forces and the British and the Free French. The cutting of these tentacles reflects the thwarting of British actions in Norway, Germany, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Mers el Kebir and Dakar by Axis forces.

This well known but rare image is guided at £4000-5000.

No strings attached: puppets from Thunderbirds modeller come for sale

Sworders’ Out of the Ordinary sale on February 15 will include two puppets from the private collection of Terry Curtis, one of the original sculptors working for Gerry Anderson in the 1960s. 
The puppets of Captain Grey, a character from Captain Scarlet, and The Atlantian, the lead ‘actor’ in an abandoned Anderson show, are estimated at £4000-5000 and £8000-10,000 respectively.

Curtis made his name creating puppets for 1966 film, ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’, and was later tasked with creating several members of the cast for the series ‘Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Aired between 1967-1968, the series followed the adventures of the eponymous Captain Scarlet and the organisation Spectrum, and their conflict with the Martian race of the Mysterons.

The character of Captain Grey - invited by Captain Scarlet to join Spectrum- was loosely based on Sean Connery’s portrayal of James Bond. Although a modern reproduction this puppet has been made according to the same methods and standards as the original 1960s puppets. The one difference is that each modern reproduction is micro chipped as an invisible signature of authenticity.

The Atlantian is original puppet from an unrealised project that was based around a family living in Atlantis, with the power to teleport to Earth and help people in distress. With the show never making it into production (the script was ultimately abandoned in favour of the live action show UFO) the puppet remained in its case with Curtis, making a brief appearance on the Antiques Roadshow around the turn of the millennium.

Relics of the dodo - a history lesson in extinction

Bones from the most famous of all extinct birds come for sale as part of Sworders’ Out of the Ordinary sale on February 15. The femur and phalanx bone from the dodo, the flightless species that died out in Mauritius around 330 years ago, are expected to bring £3000-4000.

The dodo, a member of the pigeon family had thrived on Mauritius until the Dutch colonised the island in 1638. Hunted for sport and further threatened by the arrival of alien species such as rats, dogs, cats and pigs, it was thought to have become extinct before 1690. It is one of first occasions that man realised that human actions alone could cause a species to die out.

The dodo bones on offer - a 7.5cm leg bone and a 4cm toe bone - are from a group of dodo bones discovered in 1885 during the investigation of the Mare aux Songes swamp in Mauritius by local schoolmaster George Clarke. Hearing that a few old dodo bones had been found in this area, Clarke hired local servants to wade through the mud and feel for further bones with their feet.










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