Christie’s Auction from the collection of Miguel de Rancougne

The late Miguel de Rancougne was a distinguished linguist in French, English, German, and Spanish. He was born in France on 27 July 1940 and educated in Paris, New York and London. When aged 22, he joined the French company Saint-Gobain, one of the leading glass manufacturers in Europe and as part of their international sales team, he was soon given managerial responsibilities in some of their main subsidiaries such as Spiegelglas und Gussglas in Germany. He was later assigned to the United States where he became Vice—President of Euroglass. In New York, he met again with a childhood friend Marie—Delia de Buhan and they soon became engaged. They returned to Europe in October 1973 and were married in December of that year. Their son Emanuel was born in 1974, and their daughter Alexandra in 1978. Their family life started in Belgium when in 1974 Miguel was transferred to Exprover, the Belgian subsidiary of Saint Gobain in Brussels, with responsibilities for world wide sales in North America, the British Isles, Scandinavia, Far East, the Indian Sub—Continent and Oceania. In 1990 he was assigned to London as Managing Director for the UK where he remained for four years. During this period he restructured the company's activities. ln 1994 he was promoted to Director General and returned to head office in Brussels. He was a passionate traveller and the world held few secrets from him. During his travels he was always keen to discover even more and had a wide variety of interests; among these were flying, hang-gliding, tennis, photography, model cars and internal combustion engines. Miguel's interest in model cars and engines developed at an early age when he started to build up his remarkable collection. Later, while in London in 1990, his wife Marie—Delia was reunited with her former school friend Isabelle Beresford Peyman whose husband Peter was also a keen model collector. He and Miguel collaborated in the co-construction of a 1/4 scale radio controlled A/C Cobra car. This model was entered in the 62nd International Model Engineer Exhibition in Olympia, London, where it was awarded the Model Car Trophy gold medal. Subsequently owing to a lack of space at home, Miguel gave the model to a motor museum in Brittany. Miguel soon found there was a difficulty in displaying and operating his contemporary radio controlled quarter—scale cars. These were inconvenient because of their size and need for special sites on which to operate. Instead he concentrated on the compact 'tethered cars' of earlier years in his collection. These were more easily accommodated, however again due to the shortage of space, friends will recall that many had to be installed in the cloakroom of his apartment where they hung in rows from the walls like dormant bats. These 'vintage tethered cars' follow the lines of the early Indianapolis racing cars. They were especially popular in the United States during the period 1930-1960, and to a lesser extent in the UK after the war. Miguel's appetite for information on the history of 'tethered' cars led him to magazines of the earlier period from which he built up a photocopied international reference to aid his constant search for discarded examples. When appointed Director General at the head office in Brussels in 1994, Miguel became responsible for the world wide business of Saint Gobain. Constant travel to all quarters of the globe gave him the opportunity to make contact with many other enthusiastic collectors. It also introduced him to the broader fields of model engines for aircraft and boats, and the expanding interests in model engineering. Miguel's tall stature became a familiar figure at all the organised 'CoIlectos' and 'Swapmeets' throughout the USA and Great Britain. His natural charm and honourable approach made innumerable friends wherever he appeared. He would be found frequently waiting even before the opening of the door, and arrival of local collectors, at meetings in the UK or on the continent, and was often a surprise visitor to international combustion engine specialists in all parts of the world. Acquisition of models in the remotest locations was no obstacle to him. His friend Peter remembers when visiting Miguel in Paris he proudly produced a very fine model of a marine outboard motor. He explained that it had been made by members of a model engineering club in a high security Russian factory engaged in the production of spacecraft propulsion motors. He was not permitted to enter the installation and negotiations to acquire the model therefore had to be conducted while standing on the pavement outside the factory gates. Tim Daniels who produces the 'Engine Collectors Journal' in Colorado recalls a first meeting in Denver, and then many others in Toledo, Ohio, and Arizona. 'A very p|easant,most happy fellow who had the goal to build up the largest collection on earth.' David Owen, engine designer in N.S.\N. Australia can tell of his first meeting when Miguel arrived in a rented car, with a street guide in hand, talked engines throughout the night, exchanged rare examples, and then drove back to Sydney in the early hours. David regrets the break—up of the collection, hopes that a book might be produced as a lasting record of a passing era, and says 'l am honoured to have known Miguel'. Much the same would have been said by another collector in Alaska where deals were made during a trip by dog—s|ed, and by Dave Armitage in Pretoria who remembers a request by telephone from South America for the first of many visits by Miguel to his South African home. He was an impressive personality carrying a much travelled holdall from which cloth wrapped engines were lovingly produced. Angeloni Salvatori in Italy says 'Miguel opened his satchel as if he was a magician, producing dream engines as only he could find. A call from Greece would ask for a meeting at a Milan airport for a brief encounter before changing planes for Paris. The deal was finalised at the next encounter in VIurzberg, Germany. impressed by Miguel's extraordinary courtliness, Angeloni's friendship had spread over twelve years through which Miguel's exceptional modesty and fair play in dealing with a extended family of Italian collectors established an enviable reputation. As the collection of prototypes and rare examples of se|f—made and early production units grew, Miguel collaborated with Adrien Maeght in the production of 'Les Moteurs Models Reduits Francais' as a tribute to the 42 manufacturers of engines and cars of his native France 1940-77. Christie’s wish to thank P B Peyman and R G Moulton for their assistance in writing the above biography.Increasing effects of Miguel's illness through the last years of his very active life was a cause for great concern among the collecting fraternity, though this in no way diminished the universal admiration for his uncomplaining and stoical courage in sustaining a constant quest for rare acquisitions. His loss in 2003 at the early age of 62, has been deeply felt not only by his devoted wife Marie—Delia, his son Emanuel, and daughter Alexandra, but also by his business colleagues, and the vast circle of friends with whom he shared his enthusiasm for building a unique treasure store of engineering gems. Miguel surveys his collection. All trademarks and copyrights are property of their respective owners. has no affiliation with Christie's Auctions, P B Peyman or R G Moulton.