A penny farthing for pounds 2,000? On your bike!

Brooks' is the latest auctioneer to take a fancy to vintage bicycles. They have never dipped in value and are now international currency: a good Victorian high bicycle ("penny-farthing" to punters) is worth pounds 1,000- pounds 2,000, no matter what its country of origin. Brooks's Thursday (3pm) sale of collectable automobilia at Olympia has nine vintage bicycles.

Look before you leap on these. The 1871 Ariel boneshaker (a feet-touch- the-ground model with penny- halfpenny proportions), estimated at pounds 1,000- pounds 1,800, is described as "restored in traditional boneshaker style". This is presumably an allusion to the fact that it is missing its original tension wheels with taut spokes, and has had foisted upon it modern wooden wheels held together with iron tyres. (The word tyre, incidentally, derives from the iron tie-er round wooden bicycle wheels). This lot failed to sell at Phillips' auction revival of vintage bicycles in Edinburgh last August.

Then there is the Falcon Ordinary high bicycle. "Very good condition," says the catalogue. It should be. The first Coventry Eagle-Falcon reproduction high-wheeler was displayed by its maker, Ernie Clements, at the 1960 Cycle Show in London. Only the estimate, pounds 550-pounds 650, would alert amateurs that this lot is non-vintage.

Try as they will, established auctioneers will find it hard to break the grip on the vintage bike market of John Pinkerton's almost clandestine twice-yearly vintage bicycle auctions at Kidderminster Technical College. They are never advertised but are packed by aficionados. He regularly sells 95 per cent of his lots. Next, a 70-lot sale: April 27 (0121-350 0685).

Brooks' is on safer ground with the original artwork of three Sixties Ford Anglia advertising posters, est pounds 500-pounds 800, in the same sale. One has photographs of a male/female couple, ecstatic at "the world's most exciting light car". Another version has an older and a younger man in similar pose. Hmm. A Sixties gay couple? Or could they possibly be father and son? These days, a 30-year-old Ford Anglia would be a boon for gay couples intent on camping it up. The collectors' cars in the sale are predominantly macho, such as the Jaguar 3.4-litre D-type sports racing two-seater, est pounds 18,000-pounds 22,000.

Watch out for bargain original William Morris designer products in this, the centenary of his death. A private collection of 15 lots went through the roof in Phillips' Glasgow decorative arts sale last October. But who will spot hidden away in Phillips' Bayswater applied arts auction next Tuesday two lengths of printed Morris & Co cotton, patterned with entwined foliage, modestly estimated pounds 100-pounds 150? In the Glasgow sale, two framed sets of William Morris ceramic tiles estimated pounds 8,000-pounds 12,000 were bought by the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow for pounds 32,000. Twelve tapestry panels, est pounds 400-pounds 600, fetched a whopping pounds 4,370. But, despite the spotlight on the collection, a small bale of Thirties cotton printed with Morriss's African Marigold pattern, est pounds 600-pounds 800, made a mere pounds 690. Phillips cannot understand why it got away for so little. Are Morris printed textiles the smart buy of centenary year?

John Windsor

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