Pioneering researcher Colin Andrews has put himself back into the news recently by putting up his entire archive of crop circle material for auction on E-Bay. ANDY THOMAS looks at the sale and some of the publicity that has gone with it…
There is no question that Colin Andrews was one of the most influential crop circle researchers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, being one of the pioneers of cerealogy in a time when no-one knew what was going on or what to expect from the mysterious shapes appearing in the fields. His book, ‘Circular Evidence’, co-written with Pat Delgado, helped kick the whole subject into the public eye.
Today, still no-one knows what is going on or what to expect in the fields, but the difference is that the influence of Andrews has taken a back seat in recent years, becoming better-known for his more sceptical views concerning hoax percentages and fronting strange ‘proclamations’, rather than for any particular research. Interesting hints about magnetism in crop circles, and much-publicised donations from the Rockefeller Foundation around 2000 failed to produce solid results. This is a shame, because without doubt Andrews has been a focus for a lot of potentially useful crop circle publicity in the news over the years, but the circles themselves often seem to take a back seat to rather fragile puff about his having apparently advised Margaret Thatcher, the Royal Family, Mel Gibson and the suchlike (we still await with interest full clarification on these intriguing connections).
Now Andrews has seemingly fallen on harder times, and the latest bout of PR has centered around an abortive attempt to sell his entire archive of crop circle material to help raise some funds. Andrews has denied exaggerated press claims of bankruptcy, but the attempted sale does speak of leaner days. Anomalously, one of the promoted reasons for why someone would want the archive was that money could be made from the licensing rights that came with it, making it a bit of a mystery why he would want to sell it in the first place.
For the entire collection of photos, books, diagrams, videos, et al, the initial asking price on Internet auction site E-Bay was $500,000. Given that the collection was only to be sold complete (not broken up), it was perhaps inevitable that bids were non-existent. A drop to $250,000 failed to produce any results, and the collection remains unsold at the time of writing. (Interestingly, Andrews’s attempted sale was technically in breach of E-Bay regulations, as it advertised material in his archives originally drawn from the Internet, something which is not supposed to be sold on.)
The sale generated a few press reports, but perhaps not with the effect intended. The Wiltshire-based ‘Western Daily Press’, for instance, used it as an opportunity to paint Andrews as something of a failed figure, and cerealogy a dwindling interest. Angered by this, Andrews demanded a retraction from the paper. Amendments were made on their website, but a full recanting was not forthcoming.
Aside from this, Andrews has recently raised his profile by releasing new information about the Operation White Crow and Operation Blackbird surveillance experiments of 1989 and 1990 respectively (the details, though interesting, are hardly revelatory - why wait so long to reveal them?). Meanwhile, Andrews’s publicity machine is now promising a cinema film of his life in the planning, which should make for curious viewing if it is actually made. Maybe it will star Mel Gibson… But who will play Margaret Thatcher?