Rolling Stones fans will be thrilled by a fascinating subset of items in the upcoming Charlie Watts auction of books and jazz ephemera at Christie’s. Among the 475 lots are eight that were gifts from the late drummer’s bandmates Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
Mick, Charlie’s fellow traveler in the rarefied world of collectibles (and cricket), splashed out on books, signed concert programs and even a tie that once belonged to Thelonious Monk. Keith, meanwhile, gave Charlie a book about jazz and a photo of Charlie Parker with Miles Davis. Three of the four books are inscribed by their donors, which could make them extra valuable.
Most of these lots carry estimates of 1,000 to 1,500 GBP, though my experience in auctions is that the estimates are set artificially low both to pique interest from the hoi polloi and to generate feverish headlines when the hammer price inevitably comes in way higher. Christie’s also adds a 26% fee, and don’t forget any taxes or shipping charges.
The auction is divided into two parts, by the way. The online sale will take place Sept. 15-19, and the live sale on Sept. 28. The three items below preceded by an asterisk will be in the live sale.
The three Mick books are:
New Orleans Jazz: A Family Album, by Al Rose and Edmond Souchon, with the inscription “To Charlie, Happy Birthday 2013 from Mick” (GBP 1,000 – GBP 1,500)
Jazz Life. Auf den Spuren des Jazz, an authorial presentation accompanied by a gift tag written by an unknown person, “Charlie, Happy Christmas, from Mick.’ The book is signed by signed by William Claxton, co-author with Joachim Berendt. (GBP 1,500 – GBP 2,500)
* London. A Pilgrimage, an 1872 first edition by Gustave Doré and Blanchard Jerrold. It is inscribed: “To Charlie Happy Christmas 2016 Mick.” (There could be a small “x” after Mick’s name, indicating that he left space for someone else to sign) (GBP 1,500 – GBP 2,500)
Keith’s gift, Arthur Elgort’s Jazz, shares a lot with 13 other books about art and photography. Christie’s did not see fit to include a photo, but noted that Jazz was also signed by both the author, while Keith added: “One Love, Keith, ‘19” (GBP 2,000 – GBP 3,000)
But wait! There’s more!
– * A concert program signed by Louis Armstrong and a host of other jazz luminaries. The custom case bears the inscription “Happy Christmas 2011, from Mick x L’Wren [Scott],” who was Mick’s girlfriend. (GBP 1,000 – GBP 1,500)
– A program for the 1948 Festival International du Jazz in Nice, signed by Louis Armstrong and bandmates, with Mick later adding: “Happy Birthday from Mick 2018 Coventry!” This will be especially coveted by fans who attended the Stones show in the English city on Charlie’s birthday. (GBP 1,000 – GBP 1,500)
– Monk’s striped silk necktie in blue, brown, copper and silver, accompanied by a postcard reading: “Happy Birthday Charlie, Love Mick, 2019” (GBP 1,000 – GBP 1,500)
– * A gelatin silver print of Parker and Davis by photographer William Gottlieb, with note card reading: “Dear Charlie, All the best, Keith ‘13.” (GBP 1,000 – GBP 1,500)
NOTE TO SELF: Don’t buy expensive gifts that might get flogged a few years later. But if anyone out there is as generous as Mick ‘n Keef, I’ll gladly accept any of the above items.