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Friday, September 12, 2008

Farrier Art: Thelwell's First Cartoon Will Be Auctioned in England This Month

"Ow do they feel then?"

Around any barn, anywhere (just about) in the world, you can describe a pony as "a real Thelwell type" and, immediately, whomever you are talking to knows exactly what you mean. They can "see" that pony. Round in the belly, overgrown in mane and forelock, a bushy tail, and a little short-legged, tweedy girl perched atop a flat saddle: there's your basic Thelwell syndrome.

Oh, and both the child and the pony usually exhibit some attitude.

Thelwell cartoons have made us laugh and nod our heads for generations. They are too true, a keen observation on the slightly mad, slightly wonderful world of little kids and ponies. We know those kids. We know those ponies. And we love Thelwell for capturing them for us.

But did you know that the very first Thelwell cartoon featured a farrier? Sketched in 1952, it showed fictional farrier Joe Clark sending the little girl on her way from the forge with new shoes on her pony's feet. Thelwell's cartoons were published in the British magazine Punch, which was of the New Yorker genre of literary publications liberally peppered with humorous cartoons and artwork.

The original of this most important first cartoon was lost for many years, and only re-surfaced after Thelwell's death. A lady came forward who said it had been hanging in her living room for many years and had been bought in a shop in the Cotswolds. She has now arranged to have it auctioned off in Cheshire at the end of this month.

If you love ponies and farriers, here's your chance to own a piece of history. The drawing is expected to perhaps bring as much as 3,000 pounds (approximately $6000 US).

And if you need somewhere to hang it, I have just the place.

Meanwhile, I'll keep scouring the shops and flea markets, knowing that things like this really are out there...if you know what you're looking for and find it first.

Visit the web site of Wright Manley auctioneers in Beeston, Cheshire, England for details of the auction on September 25.

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