Perhaps wrangled from some dingy long forgotten corner, a Pepsi drinker in Ohio has unearthed a wrinkled, soiled, and cigarette burned piece of paper 35 inches by 15 inches. Imprisoned in a glass cell thinly trimmed in black molding is a yellow and black doodle of a somewhat familiar profile flanked by light pencil sketches of a foreign face and rump of the same object. The object is a landau iron embellished yellow coupe with black fenders. It is a drawing by an artist of some skill and the seller is seeking several thousand dollars for it. Here it is, as presented for sale for the first time:
The seller included a few close ups of the drawing to highlight the front and rear sketches as well as the damage. Unfortunately, the best shot of the artist’s style is in the zoomed in photo of the damage to the sketch.
From the listing: “HERE IS A NICE OLD ORIGINAL ARTWORK DRAWING OF A 1929 AMERICAN AUSTIN CABRIOLET STYLE CAR BODY BUILT BY HAYES BODY COMPANY OF DETROIT. ORIGINAL DRAWING ATTRIBUTED TO ALEXIS de SAKHNOFFSKY BUT NOT SIGNED OR MARKED AS IS THE CASE WITH A MAJORITY OF CONCEPT CAR DRAWINGS. I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS MODEL WAS EVER MADE, IT SHOWS A WHEEL BASE OF 85″ AND HEIGHT OF 61″, AMERICAN AUSTIN HAD WHEEL BASE OF 75″. THIS DRAWING IS POSSIBLY ONE OF THE FIRST MADE IN AMERICA BY SAKHNOFFSKY SHOWING HIS LONG AND LOW APPROACH THAT HE ALSO DESIGNED FOR PACKARD, CORD, AUBURN, LaSALLE AND AMERICAN BANTAM.
PLEASE NOTE THERE ARE NO MARKINGS ON THIS DRAWING FOR AUSTIN, AMERICAN AUSTIN, HAYES BODY CORP. OR ALEXIS de SAKHNOFFSKY .
BODY STYLE AND SIZE ATTRIBUTES THIS TO THOSE COMPANIES AND PERSONS.
FRAME SIZE IS 36″ X 15″ , DRAWING IS AGAINST FRONT GLASS, WE HAVE NOT ATTEMPTED TO REMOVE FROM FRAME, DRAWING HAS WRINKLES AND CIGARETTE BURNS AND STAINS, DRAWING SHOWS HAND COLORED SIDE VIEW AND PENCIL FRONT AND REAR VIEW WITH SOME DIMENSIONS AND FIGURE OF BOWTIE MAN STANDING NEXT TO CAR.”
Regarding authenticity, I have some doubts. While I can appreciate art but I am by no means an expert. I cannot tell you if this is actually the work of the Count, but to my lay eyes it appears to be drawn in a different style. Here are a few authentic examples of his drawing style for comparison:
This example sold at Bonhams for around $1,500
These sketches were featured on Antiques Roadshow.
The next thing to consider is the “cabriolet style” Austin which was eventually built looked like this:
There is a vague resemblance, but mostly in the fact that there is a landau bar. However, the car above is a smaller car with a 75″ wheelbase and no trunk.
Now, think about another Austin Seven derivative. Think of one having an 85 inch wheel base built around the same time. The car I’m thinking of is the Rosengart. Here is a photo of a 1928 model:
Notice the similarities between this and the drawing? Click on this photo to see the Wiki page for Rosengart cars.
A lot of the design elements are present in the Rosengart, especially in the proportions as provided in the sketch. While the actual Rosengart is missing some of the smooth elegance of the sketch, I would not entirely count it out as the recipient of the design work laid out in black and yellow.
While my rambling are not conclusive one way or another, I wanted to share my thoughts with you to spur on your own. In the end, the sketch is way over my budget for such extravagances, maybe yours as well. Either way, we should be thankful that the owner shared it with us.
To see the ebay listing, click here Austin or Rosengart Sketch