News-Antique.com - Mar 01,2010 - Geoff Stanton lived and breathed aeroplanes. You could say they were in his blood, a passion inherited from his father, who at 14 was an apprentice with the famous Fairey Aviation Company. But Geoff never piloted a plane. Instead, he spent a lifetime – sadly cut short by a heart attack – building a private aviation museum, which filled his one-bedroomed flat to bursting point.
In the hallway, visitors were greeted by two mannequins – one a tall U,S. Air Force pilot, the other a Women’s Royal Air Force officer, each complete with flying jackets and boots. On the wall above them was a wooden propeller from a 1917 Sopwith, and below that, a huge enamel sign – too heavy to mount – advertising Shell and BP aviation fuel. The kitchen and dining area was more of a workshop but there were two big leather armchairs of 1930s vintage – Geoff would use one but the other was occupied by another mannequin (“Henry”) dressed in full flying kit and complete with Air Ministry map – ready to scramble.
Geoff bequeathed some of these objects but the rest of his huge collection of aeronautical memorabilia is to be sold in a sale of fine art, antiques and collectables by Surrey’s premier auctioneers Ewbank Clarke Gammon Wellers. The sale is on Wednesday March 17 and the depth of the collection is mind-boggling.
The flat was crammed with display cases containing all of the items for auction. In addition, USAAF and RAF uniforms, sheepskin flying jackets, boots, helmets, goggles and gloves sit alongside Second World War cockpit instruments, gun sights, gauges, a silk Observer parachute, miniature propellers and propeller sections and even a framed piece of fabric from a Messerschmitt 109, shot down over Balcombe Down during the Battle of Britain in 1940.
There are countless models of aircraft of all periods, medals, mascots, log books, badges and pins, books and postcards including a charming collection of RAF “sweetheart badges”; aircraft manuals parts and tools, brochures and hundreds of period photographs.
The collection also includes three original paintings in oil on canvas by leading aviation artist Ivan Berryman. They show respectively, Concorde in flight, the famous “Sally B” Flying Fortress under repair and an RAF Barracuda fighter plane in flight. Each is estimated at £100-200.
The biggest item in the collection, however, is a pilot’s ejection seat, thought to be from a Gloster Meteor jet. Geoff acquired this from the Air Training Corps and, although its detailed history is not known, of particular local interest are the pilot’s restraining straps which were manufactured by the GQ Parachute Co. of Woking showing the date September 1952. It is estimated at £200-300, while most of the other 100-plus lots are arranged to satisfy collectors with shallower pockets.
Geoff Stanton was born in Guildford, Surrey, in 1957, the younger son of Kenneth and Kathleen. The family moved to the Isle of Wight in 1975 after Geoff’s father joined the staff of Westland Aerospace at East Cowes.