Johnnie Walker Memorabilia Still Going Strong

An extraordinary auction of Johnnie Walker Memorabilia

Johnnie Walker Memorabilia Still Going Strong
Johnnie Walker Sporting Prints, Tom Browne, Early 20th Century

Johnnie Walker fans can now bid on old and rare Johnnie Walker memorabilia dating back to 1905 in this month’s miniatures and memorabilia auction.

The auction which ends on Tuesday 24 August 2021 includes 40 rare Johnnie Walker lots (mostly from a single collection) that each document the history of the Johnnie Walker brand.

Johnnie Walker famously traces its roots to 1820 when a grocery store in Kilmarnock, Scotland was opened by John Walker. By the 1880s the business claimed to be the largest single exporter of Scotch whisky, and the most profitable, and it was at this point that customers started to refer to the brand as ‘Johnnie Walker’, a name that has stuck to this day.

Born 1820 Still Going Strong, Tom Browne, Early 20th Century

In the early 20th century Johnnie Walker became an early adopter of the new power of advertising, The Johnnie Walker Striding Man figure was first seen in 1908, created by American advertising guru Paul E Derrick, and went on to be one of the most recognisable illustrations in whisky history. Up for sale is a rare original Edwardian print of The Striding Man’s first appearance, Johnnie Walker ‘Born 1820 Still Going Strong’ advertisement poster created by Tom Browne in 1908.

The Tom Browne illustration became so iconic that, shortly after Tom Browne’s death in 1910, eight framed prints illustrated by Tom Browne for John Walker & Sons, featuring Johnnie Walker’s Striding Man in a variety of sporting settings were published by Lawrence & Jellicoe  as ‘a unique souvenir’ of Tom Browne’s life…’with no suggestion of advertising’.

Johnnie Walker Sporting Tom Browne Prints

One highlight from the auction is an Edwardian framed set of three coloured prints issued by John Walker & Sons, featuring Johnnie Walker’s Striding Man in a variety of sporting settings.

The three prints are titled ‘Fishing 1820’, ‘Cricket 1820’, and ‘Golfing 1820’. They were all illustrated by Tom Browne and appeared as black and white prints in magazines and newspapers. This large framed tryptic would have been used as a display piece in bars and hotels.

Johnnie Walker Special Old Highland Whisky Cigar Cutter 1905

It was not only memorable visual campaigns but also promotional branded gifts that assisted the brand’s huge growth in the early 20th century. Look out for this small John Walker Special Old Highland Whisky cigar cutter, in working order, in the shape of the original square bottle. We estimate this cigar cutter was made in circa 1905 and it predates the introduction of the Striding Man figure.

Johnnie Walker Award For A Hole In One 1928

Fans of whisky ephemera will particularly enjoy the Johnnie Walker Award certificate given to Mrs Mercia Castle when she scored a hole in one at Saltford Golf Links. The cartoon on the certificate was drawn by HM Bateman. The certificate reads

This is to certify that Mrs Mercia Castle Holed Out In One at the Sixteenth hole on the Saltford Golf Links on 24th day of May 1928 and received the ‘Johnnie Walker’ Award for so doing. John Walker & Sons Ltd.

Included in this lot is a photo of the recipient and other members of the Saltford LGC, and a card from AutoStrop Safety Razor Co. Ltd. stating that Mrs Mercia Castle was admitted to the ‘Valet’ Hole-in-one-Club and was presented with a self-stropping ‘Valet’ razor (sadly the razor is not included!) to commemorate her achievement. The long running Johnnie Walker Hole In One prize was first established in 1926.

Johnnie Walker Vesta Match Case Puzzle

This metal Johnnie Walker vesta match case is in fact a puzzle that must be solved to open the case, and the back reads ‘Open this box and I’ll stand you a Johnnie Walker‘. Evidently many have tried, and failed, to open the puzzle. The winning bidder can contact us for the trick of how to open it, unless they solve the puzzle themselves. Interestingly, the quality of the reproduction of the Striding Man figure suggests that this is not an official Johnnie Walker promotional item.

‘Open This Box And I’ll Stand You A Johnnie Walker’

Johnnie Walker – Not!

This brings me neatly onto some of the most peculiar lots amongst this auction’s Johnnie Walker memorabilia. We have six separate lots that are not quite what they at first seem. The successful brand name ‘Johnnie Walker’ has been appropriated by unconnected companies over the years ranging from cigarettes to motels, so we have gathered a few examples here.

First we have a Johnny Walker Lensatic Compass made in Japan, presented in a small box (which also features the Olympic rings) with instructions for use.

There’s a pair of outer cartons for Johnnie Walker Cigarettes, a pack wrapper for Johnnie Walker Pearl Tipped Cigarettes and a cigarette advertisement. This brand has particular historic interest here as it was the subject of a long running trademark dispute between John Walker & Sons and the cigarette producers.

Singers, music hall performers and film actors have adopted the popular name Johnnie Walker since the late 19th century and so we have a vinyl record from German performer Johnny Walker. The A side plays ‘Tell me what is your name‘ and the B side has the equally memorable ‘Fiesta Mexicana‘.

Two enquiry forms and an introduction pamphlet to the Johnny Walker JW4 New Formula Racing Car bring another lengthy legal battle to mind when John Walker & Sons attempted, unsuccessfully, to persuade the company to change the name of the popular racing car.

Finally, if you enjoy a sporting life then you should browse the Johnny Walker 1970 Sports Catalogue from Walker International in Detroit or serve a clear smash shot with a set of three Johnny Walker Carlton Plastic Shuttlecocks, complete with the Official Rules of Badminton Play.

The miniatures and memorabilia auction begins to end 7.30pm Tuesday 24 August 2021.

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