Gallery: Angus McBean auction held in Bury St Edmunds raises more than £100,000

Angus McBean auction at Lacy Scott Auctioneers in Bury St Edmunds. Studio signature book, including

Angus McBean auction at Lacy Scott Auctioneers in Bury St Edmunds. Studio signature book, including the beatles and many other famous people. The book sold for £11,000. - Credit: Archant

IT is an autograph collector’s fantasy and a unique document of one of the greatest celebrity photographer’s careers.

And now Angus McBean’s studio visitor book, signed by stars including Marlene Dietrich, The Beatles and surreal comic Spike Milligan, will stay in the public domain after a library paid £11,000 for it at auction.

The lot was one of 259 prints, books and stage props belonging to the eccentric photographer that sold for more than £100,000 yesterday at Lacy Scott and Knight Auctioneers in Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds.

Ed Crichton said the collection, which was put up for sale by McBean’s partner David Ball following a move away from mid Suffolk, had attracted interest from collectors and fans.

He added: “There were 100 people registered online to bid and another 50 in the room. But interest has been global rather than just in East Anglia. We have had collectors, lovers of photography and people who are fans of the stars – Beatles people for The Beatles lots, Vivienne Lee people for the Vivienne Lee lots.”

Mr Chricton, who described bidding as “strong” added that he was delighted with the amount raised.

Adrian Woodhouse, who wrote a biography on the Welsh-born photographer, was unable to win a box of 25 of his own books written about, or with McBean.

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But Mr Woodhouse did secure the “unique” visitor’s book on behalf of the National Library of Wales. Speaking after a tense battle with a phone buyer he said it was “time to break out the Welsh champagne.”

Dr Paul Joyner, head of legacy acquisitions at the Aberystwyth-based national library, said the book, which has been signed by everyone who sat for McBean, was unique.

He added: “He was born just around the corner from here in Newport and he is one of the most important celebrity photographers.”

Dr Joyner said he hoped that the book will be digitised and placed on their website to enable everyone to see the messages from the great and the good.

Standout names, among the 1,000 in the tome, include those of the young Beatles crime literature queen Agatha Christie and prima ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn.

McBean, who has been subject to a National Portrait Gallery retrospective, retired in 1966 to focus on decorating and restoring Flemings Hall, Bedingfield, and also owned an antiques shop, the former Guildhall, in Debenham.

He returned to photography in 1982, eight years before his death.

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