YOUR MONEY: You can bet on a good draw

Alternative investments: the original artwork of quality cartoonists is in demand. A Giles can fetch pounds 4,000

CHOOSING Christmas presents can be fun: original cartoons not only give pleasure but may also be good investments. Making a selection in specialist galleries is also good for a chuckle.

Work of the classic cartoonists, such as Giles and H M Bateman (who is said to have inspired Ralph Steadman), has doubled in price over the past five years. Scarfe, Steadman and Heath Robinson (whose name has passed into the language) are all in demand, attracting high prices, and many collectors want to buy original works by Gary Larson, famous for The Far Side, which he does not generally release for sale.

Original cartoon artwork of this kind is usually in pen and ink, though some is in charcoal, coloured ink or watercolour. The best cartoons are recognised by their admirers as high-quality art.

Chris Beetles's gallery in London has a 700-item Christmas exhibition until 19 January, with items ranging from Larry cartoons at pounds 100 to the work of Ronald Searle, selling for more than pounds 2,000.

At John Rae-Smith's Islington gallery he is selling a Giles original for pounds 1,600. He recently sold a Heath Robinson illustration for pounds 3,000. But there are other pieces selling for pounds 20. Mr Rae-Smith says the average price is pounds 125.

"Cartoon and comic artwork from the early part of this century is very valuable, but there is very little contemporary artwork that will have much value for a while," says Paul Gravett, the administrator of the Cartoon Art Trust. "Giles's cartoons are going up and up. When he died, everything he did went up a couple of hundred. He got virtually everything back from the Express. Very few have gone on the market, which has put up their value. They sell for pounds 500 to pounds 1,000 for a regular black and white Giles. Some will sell for pounds 3,000 to pounds 4,000.

"A lot of good cartoonists, who are not household names but whose work is very good, are worth investing in for the future," Mr Gravett said. He predicts that the work of 1930s and 1940s cartoonists Edward Hynes (who produced the early, non-pornographic covers for Men Only), Leslie Grimes ("a wonderful charcoal technique") and Robert Sherriffs ("overlooked and influential") will all rise in value.

Cartoons that mark important events, such as the fall of Margaret Thatcher, are also likely to appreciate, Mr Gravett believes. He warns, though, that as events fade into obscurity so the meaning, and the value, of political cartoons inspired by them can fade as well. Often cartoons that are more general social comment retain their meaning and their price better.

Note too that many widely available 19th-century cartoon prints, although often relatively cheap, are not originals but limited print runs and are unlikely to have the same scope for investment gain.

The Cartoon Art Trust gives advice about buying cartoons, and hosts evening classes and lectures, as well as regular exhibitions. It holds an annual auction each autumn that is hosted by Bonhams.

September's sale included a Doonesbury strip by Trudeau (whose cartoons are syndicated to the Guardian), that sold for pounds 275, a Steve Bell cartoon (also in the Guardian) for pounds 140, a portrait of the Cabinet by Riddell (whose cartoons used to appear in the Independent on Sunday), that went for pounds 325, and a Peanuts strip from Charles Schulz that sold for pounds 1,200. Peanuts cartoons sell well because they have a large following and few come on the market.

Cartoons often appear in sales at the big auction houses. Cartoon originals of Winston Churchill, dating from the 1920s and 1930s, sold at Bonhams last week for between pounds 100 and pounds 220, considerably more than their guide price.

Politicians and celebrities commonly buy cartoon originals direct from the cartoonists - although some cartoonists refuse to sell to politicians they despise. The public could try the direct approach too. While a few sell their work through dealers, most will respond to written offers sent to their newspapers, magazines or book publishers.

Steve Way, one of the cartoonists who produces the Generation Why strip in the Independent, says he would welcome more offers. Mr Way says he has sold around 20 in a year. "It's nice to sell them - otherwise you end up with a shirt-box full and you don't get any contact to know whether people like them or not."

Jacky Fleming, whose feminist cartoons are published by Penguin, has sold her cartoon originals for between pounds 50 and pounds 100 each, although she would need a better offer to part with her favourites.

For those who are more interested in viewing than in buying, there is an exhibition of Giles's cartoons at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea until 14 January. Some are on loan from the Duke of Edinburgh, who is a keen collector.

q Cartoon Art Trust, 0171-405 4717; Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, 01792-655006; Chris Beetles Gallery, 0171-839 7551; Rae-Smith Cartoons, 0181-348 6569.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links