BRIGHT young thing: ''Have you seen the disgusting one?'' as

she scurried towards the hanger at Christie's South Kensington. For the

occasion, one of the many viewing sessions for the Coluzzi Collection,

the old pre-fabricated warehouse at the rear of Christie's St James's

junior offshoot in West London had been converted into a stage set of a

Continental railway station.

Count Antonio Giansanti Coluzzi's fascination for trains was fired as

a little boy by the sight of the Blue Train steaming its way through the

Cote d'Azur in the 1920s. One of his earliest pieces was a locomotive

given him by King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, a friend of his parents.

After the 1939-45 war, the count formed his own company to make fine

quality model railway stock, a helpful adjunct for the avid collector.

This week, some 3000 pieces from the collection came up for sale,

fetching more than #1.2m. For the future, the count intends to

concentrate on building his business.

Top price was #33,000 paid by an American collector for a 1909 model

of the German liner, Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse. British dealers, Jeffrey

Levitt, paid a total of #24,200 for clockwork models of a train and a

paddle steamer.

There is no doubt about it. The items in the sale were exquisitely

made, right down to the finest detail, but perhaps the most interesting

lot was the final one, a 132cm long model of a sleeping car with

removable roof and side, built in 1984 to the special order of the


The auctioneers tactfully catalogue the finely executed automated

figures in the sleeping compartments as en deshabille. Useful, perhaps,

as a study in anatomy or the wilder forms of human behaviour, the

carriage attracted enough attention at the viewing -- viz. bright young

thing, but failed to find a buyer at #11,000.

In the meantime, Christie's has lost its motor specialist. Robert

Brooks, who started at South Kensington, and masterminded the sale of

the world's most expensive car in 1987, has gone off to start his own

auction house for classic motor cars.

Financed with #2m from Brooks himself and Swiss financier Martin

Streichenberg, the company will be based near Clapham Common in London.

Since he started in the business, he has seen the classic car market

grow to the present rate of nearly 300% a year.

Brooks was responsible for knocking down a Bugatti Royale for the

incredible sum of #5.5m at Christie's memorable sale at the Royal Albert


For those who are still interested in second-hand cars, Sotheby's

Belles Automobiles de Collection auction takes place in Monaco tomorrow.

With exceptions such as the monstrous 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500K special

roadster, which is expected to fetch #1m, estimates seem modest by

comparison with recent sales in the UK. A 1981 Maserate Quattroporte

sports saloon is estimated at Ff150,000 -- 180,000 (around #16,00).

I was amused to see a 1989 car in the catalogue -- a Porsche 911

speedster -- with only 900km on the clock, just in time for the new

''G'' letter registrations.

* ENOUGH of such trivia -- or is it? A private collector paid #935 for

a light bulb at Phillips this week. However, the bulb, which had been

estimated at about #500, is a five-watt multistar neon lamp, etched with

the signature of John Logie Baird, and was used in one of his prototype

television sets in the 20s.

Sotheby's has just announced that it will be auctioning the only known

autograph manuscript of Schumann's piano concerto in November. It is

expected to fetch up to #1m.

Robert Schumann began his great A minor piano concerto in 1841, the

year after he married Clara Wieck, and it was certainly written for her

to play. The Sotheby's manuscript, which has been sent for sale

anonymously from a private European collection, is almost entirely in

Schumann's hand, except for some sections of the first movement in that

of a copyist and parts of the piano part in the last movement in the

handwriting of Clara Schumann.

As the season of major fine art sales draws to a close, it looks as

though interest in the French Impressionists is waning, or at least

becoming more selective. Up until quite recently anything even remotely

resembling an Impressionist painting could command extraordinarily high

prices. There were queues round the block for Christie's and Sotheby's

sales in New York.

Now, hopefully interest is swinging towards other modern movements --

and Old Masters. The successful sale of the Clifford Collection, started

when Timothy Clifford was a schoolboy, is a case in point. The director

of the National Galleries of Scotland had put together a careful and

exquisite collection of Old Master drawings with few major discoveries

among them, and now is half a million pounds the richer for it.

Another was the success of Sotheby's sale of Old Master paintings on

July 5, which exceeded all estimates with a total of over #14m.

I never was one for a set of sunflower pictures painted in a hurry by

an artist, who never sold during his lifetime, to decorate a room for a

friend coming to stay. (Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh sold in 1987 for

#24.75m at Christie's to a Japanese insurance company.)