Raymond Briggs Original Artwork | A Penny for the Old Guy
We all have regrets in life, and one of mine was an (artistic) one. Back in 2016 I had the chance to bid for an original Raymond Briggs illustration – but it didn’t go to plan!
The auction was one of the online variety, and I believe, if memory serves me correctly, it was to raise funds for the RSPCA or another animal charity. I obtained the details and looked at the art that was up for grabs. There was some lovely work by various illustrators, but it the work by Raymond that had me captivated. So, without much hesitation, I threw my bid down and to my surprise, I was the highest bidder – for a while at least! The issue was that I didn’t realise that I was unable to bid online when the auction went ‘live’. Essentially, the online bids were collected and then there was a physical auction (of the celebrity type I believe). So, I placed my bid but was then unable to up my offer, and of course, on the night of the auction, the bids were flying in for Raymond’s work as it’s VERY rare to see any of it for sale. Alas, I lost the painting, and although I don’t know what it sold for, it was very likely quite a large sum.
The illustration is titled ‘A Penny for the Old Guy’ and is possibly one of Raymond’s lesser-known illustrations, but it so happens to be one of my favorite pieces that he has created - there’s just something very atmospheric about it, and it reminds me of happy times when I was a little boy, visiting my granddad’s house on Guy Fawkes Night where we’d celebrate November 5th with a large bonfire, some fireworks and some autumnal food, such as jacket potatoes, sausages, and chestnuts.
Prior to seeing the artwork at auction, I must confess I was not aware of it, but straight away I purchased a copy of the book that it was commissioned for, named ‘Festivals’ by Ruth Manning-Sanders which Raymond illustrated fully. After losing out on the auction I was half tempted to cut the illustration from the pages of the book and frame it – but I couldn’t bring myself to mutilate a perfectly good book, so I read it and then put it back on the shelf only to take it off once in a while and have a look at the pictures, especially ‘A Penny for the Old Guy’.
Over the last few weeks, especially of over the autumn and over Bonfire Night and Christmas I kept thinking about losing out on it – even though it is some two years later (at the time) I was still kicking myself. But something in my head kept saying to me that I should look for it again. Celebrity auctions often seem to involve competing to see who has the largest wallet, rather than someone bidding for a piece that they truly love, and want to own, and therefore I thought there may be a chance that someone had offloaded it.
Anyhow, something in my mind was promoting me to look for the illustration and see if any art dealers had it, but there was quite simply NO original work by Raymond Briggs, apart from one well-established website that had just a single painting….. You guessed it!!! It was ‘A Penny for the Old Guy’ the very painting that I had been thinking about for the past two years!
Now, of course, this was from a dealer, so there was no auction and I guess the price was even higher purchasing it this way, but I wasn’t about to regret missing out for a second time! So, after a little due diligence, I placed the order, and as I write this two days later I now have Raymond’s original work sitting in my studio next door! I can’t quite believe it! I think this one was meant to be!
For those of you who may have seen the work in the book, the original is so much more detailed and impactful thanks to the beautiful and vibrant colours and contrasting layers of shadow! There's also handwritten elements and details on the back too. So here it is…. titled ‘A Penny for the Old Guy’ – thanks, Raymond, I love it!