Collecting Fairground Memorabilia

Jeremy Curzon, Consultant at Cheffins, talks to H&A all about collecting fairground memorabilia and their upcoming sale on the 23rd July

Cheffins Collecting Fairground Memorabilia
Published: July 21st, 2022 at 10:00 am

Evoking the smell of candy floss and the excitement of stolen first kisses, fairground memorabilia is one of the most nostalgic collecting fields we deal with at Cheffins.

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Coming to the Vintage Sale hosted at our saleground at Sutton, near Ely on the 23rd July, is a collection of almost 100 items including vintage fairground horses, rounding boards, clowns, dodgem cars and other items of fairground nostalgia. Belonging to one of the UK’s most well regarded fairground collectors, this enormous assortment is only the first of three parts which we will be offering through our collective vintage sales.

The joy of these things is that they transport you right back to the bright lights of the fairground as a child. Toffee apples, the music, the danger, the excitement and the whirr of the rides, these are a nostalgic buy and could be as at home in a caravan park as in a smart West End apartment.


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However, they have also been seeing fairly healthy price rises over the past few years. These types of items are few and far between on the open market, some antiques dealers have listed wooden galloper horses for over £7,000 for the best in class, whilst another local auction house sold a couple in 2018, but for approximately forty per cent less than they are worth today. Drew Pritchard is a known fan of fairground memorabilia, and as tastes turn towards the individual and the maximalist, these bright and beautiful pieces are now set to be some of the most sought-after items which we will offer at this month’s sale.

Fairground gallopers, otherwise known as carousel horses, are perhaps the most recognisable in terms of fairground memorabilia, however, juvenile ride on cars, cockerels, motorbikes or even dodgem cars also see a healthy market. In the main, buyers tend to be antiques dealers, or interior design types looking for something really unusual for a project. Creepy clowns or super bright rounding boards, with gaudy colours and tacky slogans are most certainly in vogue and fit beautifully with today’s trend for pattern and colour.

For someone looking to buy into this trend for the first time, a good place to start would be the rounding boards. The smaller versions, perhaps which need some restoration, could sell for a couple of hundred pounds, as could the smaller fibreglass gallopers. For those with deeper pockets, the holy grail item is a traditional wooden galloper, which at their largest can stand over 5ft tall and are certainly a two-man lift.


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Other highly sought-after pieces include the ‘gag’ boards i.e. ‘Scream If You Want To Go Faster’ and the original pedal cars from the Juvenile rides. The majority of fairground memorabilia does need restoration having weathered the years of being towed around from town to town and over-winter storage. It’s something to bear in mind when buying one of these pieces for the first time.

The Roger Austin collection provides something for everyone and at all budgets. Much of it had been left in the back of various lorries for decades and been forgotten about and it was only when we started to look through the various barns that we discovered quite the scale of it. At its peak, it is thought to have reached over 750 pieces, including whole rides which Roger would put back together for family parties. We will be offering the first part later this month and then the rest will be sold in a further two tranches, in the October Vintage Sale and the April 2023 Vintage Sale.

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You can view the full sale catalogue here


Lots featuring in the sale


258 Full size fibre glass double seat galloper horse named ‘Gary’ – estimate £600 - £800

Cheffins Collecting Fairground Memorabilia

67 A hanging painted plywood sign with fibreglass clown’s head- 64x29 inches - £200 - £300

Cheffins Collecting Fairground Memorabilia

90 RAC Austin J40 pedal car, ex-juvenile ride, complete with pedals, cranks etc, and a canvas cover - £1,000 - £2,000

Cheffins Collecting Fairground Memorabilia

250 A carved wood running cockerel, ex-juvenile ride, 32inches tall, requiring restoration - £400 - £600

Cheffins Collecting Fairground Memorabilia
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