Thanks, Ray, for your comments on my comments on, or possibly assessment of, this particular bike frame, but we must agree to disagree on this one. In choosing to use the term "....very rare.." I meant just that, meaning "uncommon" or "seldom seen". I have ridden bikes since 1948 , and covered thousands of miles in the north of England and in the north Midlands where this particular frame was built. I even lived very close to the Carlton factory for three and a half years, taking, during that period, a number of career visits to the factory, and I have never either seen a Donovan frame or known of their existence until I saw this one on Ebay. So in that sense I think that this make/model/brand of frame is.." very rare."
In the other sense of the word "rare" ie "of special excellence" I think that this frame might even have pretentions to that description..certainly I don't think it was "run-of-the-mill" as you described it. I have quite a number of Carltons in my collection, all from the 40s and 50s..and there are some very finely crafted frames among them, simply because Carlton employed some very skilled framebuilders. As you well remember some of the finest riders of the 50s and 60s road to fame on Carltons..and not just English riders either.
Carlton made a number of models with very fine and elaborate lugwork, but while this particular frame was built with short-point Prugnats, I had no reason to think that it was simply yet another production line job.. I did not know the O'Donovans very well but I knew Gerald well enough to know that he would not put his own family name on any old frame that came out of the factory..he was too proud for that type of badge engineering. On the evening I inspected the Donovan, I had visited the seller to pick up a 1957 Hill Special, made in Padiham, Lancs, by Adam Hill and his merry band of framebuilders. Hill Specials enjoy, certainly in the north of England, an enviable reputation for being high quality hand-built lightweight frames. The particular Hill Special that I was buying was built with the very same pattern lugs as the Donovan, and the same fork ends, but the Donovan had longer champhered top-eyes. Judging the two frames side by side, without knowing which was from a factory and which from a small workshop, it would have been impossible to distinguish the difference.
I have certainly seen far more Hill Specials than I have Donovans.
Norris Lockley..Settle UK