A collection of all 300 Michelin Red Guides, including the very first edition published in 1900, fetched €80,000 at the weekend in an auction devoted to Michelin memorabilia.
The guides were bought by the French restaurateur Jean-Yves Schillinger, who plans to display them at a new Michelin-themed restaurant. They formed part of a larger sale of Michelin-related items being disposed of by another restaurateur, Alain Morel, which fetched more than €200,000 in total. At its peak, M. Morel's Michelin collection, thought to have been the largest in the world, is reported to have taken up 150 square metres of display space – a floor area roughly equivalent to the space found in a large detached house – in his private museum at his home in Brussels.
Michelin is one of the world's longest-established leading brands. In Bibendum, it has a corporate symbol that dates back to 1894 and enjoys global recognition, although today's slightly more politically correct Michelin Man is a bit thinner than the original and is no longer seen with a drink in his hand as he was in the early days. The company's Red Guides, which contain restaurant recommendations and are associated with the famous Michelin star grading system, are almost as old, while the more general Green Guides for tourists date back to the Twenties. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that these items have attracted a large number of collectors, and the most recent sale – held near Michelin's Clermont-Ferrand base - was part of a series of biennial specialist Michelin-themed collectors' fairs auctions.
Among the other lots in this year's sale were an example of the first Michelin promotional poster, produced in 1905 by O'Galop, the designer of the original Michelin Man, which fetched €3,000. Several Bibendum figurines fetched more than €100 each.