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.

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
people
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
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

Application Support - Enterprise Java, SQL, Oracle, SQL Server

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A well-established financial soft...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape