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Gift from The Duke of Windsor to his lover on offer at Bonhams

BLOG frogKing Edward VIII may have been strongly suspected of sympathising with the Nazis but as the only British monarch to abdicate voluntarily in the name of love he could also be a soppy so-and-so. The cheeky chappie pictured here is a diamond frog which was a gift from The Duke of Windsor to his lover Wallis Simpson. It is being offered in Bonhams’ fine jewellery sale in New Bond Street on September 17 together with a diamond brooch designed as the Prince of Wales’ feathers. The two items are estimated to sell for £5000-10,000.

The diamond and green peridot frog dates from 1937, when he married Simpson after stepping down several months earlier so his brother became George VI. more »

The Egyptian coffin cover and the monocled crocodile wrestler

BLOG coffin coverWhen Stephen Drake of Willingham Auctions discovered a 3000-year-old Egyptian coffin cover in a house clearance on the Essex coast, he was amazed. But perhaps even more astonishing was what he uncovered next. Mr Drake, who found the cobweb-covered coffin cover propped up against a longcase clock after climbing through a hole in the wall of the house on August 15 – the only way in during refurbishment – also helped bring to light the long-forgotten tale of one of the most extraordinary British adventurers of the 20th century.

He discovered an LP recording of the legendary Tiger Sarll’s (1882-1977) appearance as the subject of This Is Your Life with Eamonn Andrews. “I felt like Indiana Jones uncovering the treasures of the lost temple,” Mr Drake told ATG. But, as he soon discovered, Sarll’s story made Indiana Jones look quite pedestrian. The family clearing the house were Sarll’s descendants, who still had the Big Red Book from his appearance on This Is Your Life – although they were unaware of the recording – and it told an amazing tale, which was also recounted in Adventurer Extraordinary: The Tiger Sarll Story (1961), by Godfrey Lias. more »

‘Abominable Snowman’ Pictures on offer at Christie’s online sale.

BLOG yetiWhy is the Yeti an ‘Abominable Snowman’? Who has met him/her to judge? Maybe the creature is just misunderstood. Then again, the ‘Amiable Snowman’ is not exactly headline-grabbing. Many mountaineers believe in its existence, however, and photos showing footprints supposedly left by the beast in the Himalayas are on offer during Christie’s online-only section of its Out of the Ordinary sale, ending on September 10.

The pictures, estimated at £3000-5000, were taken in the Memluk Basin by Eric Earle Shipton (1907-77) during the 1951 Everest expedition. Shipton’s photographs ignited speculation about the existence of a Yeti which had been growing since N.A. Tombazi made the first European sighting during an expedition to the Sikkim Himalaya in 1925. With no means of measuring the footprints, Shipton took four photographs: two showing the indistinct prints seen with human footprints and rucksack beside them for comparison; the other two looking at one of the most detailed and distinct group of prints, with an ice axe for scale and a second one with a booted foot. The footprints measure 12-13in long. more »

Spacesuit used by canine cosmonauts Belka and Strelka up for sale

BLOG space dog

Before Yuri Gagarin blasted off in 1961 to become the first man in space, Soviet missions such as Mutt-nik 5 – sorry, Sputnik 5 – had sent man’s best friend into orbit.

If you would like to pay tribute to that particular mission from 1960, Auctionata are offering a pressurised canine spacesuit in their online-only Soviet space memorabilia sale on September 13, guided at around $8000.

This was one of the first spacesuits for dogs to test the effects of low-gravity and high-speed launches on living organisms and was produced in the USSR in the 1950s by RSC Energia, the largest Russian manufacturer of spacecraft and space station components. more »

The First Book printed in English makes £900,000 at Auction

BLOG CaxtonIf ‘multi-tasking’ had been around as a phrase in the 15th century, it would have been apt to describe William Caxton.

Not content with being a successful member of the Bruges merchant community involved in the wool trade and representing his colleagues as governor of the English Nation of Merchant Adventurers, and quite possibly being a financial adviser to Margaret of Burgundy, he produced not just the first book printed in English, but the first ever printed or published by an Englishman. more »

Cats favourite sitting bowl, turns out to be 1425 £90k Ming Bowl

BLOG cat bowlThis 12in (30cm) blue and white bowl provided the most spectacular of a clutch of multi-estimate prices at an Essex saleroom on August 5-6. Good job that the family cat was obviously such a graceful creature, then – it was apparently one of its favourite resting places.

If the moggy had destroyed that said vase it could not have made a £90,000 hammer price after it sailed past an estimate of just £200-300, in the process creating a house record for the Reeman Dansie saleroom in Colchester. more »

‘Snowflake’ Bentley Photomicrographs from 1890s make $18k

BLOG snowflakeWe’re all going to shuffle off this mortal coil one day. But sometimes when it happens it seems strangely appropriate: the ‘he/she died doing what they loved best’ line.

Wilson A. Bentley probably didn’t intend to meet his end by dying of pneumonia after walking six miles home in a snowstorm, but as the first person to photograph a snowflake, in 1885, and producing over 5000 images over the next three decades, maybe there was a certain fate involved. more »

The first man to be apprehended through the use of radio

BLOG Crippen 1 The first man to be apprehended through the use of radio? You have probably heard the name: Dr Crippen, the notorious murderer who did away with his wife and ended up going to the gallows.

Shropshire auctioneers Mullock’s have original prescription books belonging to Hawley Harvey Crippen which were used as evidence to convict him and are offering them with an estimate of around £3000 in their online-only September 2 sale.

more »

Another highly desirable two-wheeler with solid Yorkshire connections

BLOG howard and marinaIn a previous blog we told you about a bike said to have been used by Mark Cavendish in the 2010 season. The ‘Cav’ bike that made £5300 at Tennants auction house in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, on August 1, sold to a bidder in the room against strong competition from all corners of the UK.

Here’s another highly desirable two-wheeler with solid Yorkshire connections, perhaps not with Tour de France-winning potential though. Why not bid for a 1950s Phoenix bicycle used by the legendary Marina from Last of the Summer Wine? Lincoln auctioneers Golding Young & Mawer are offering it on September 4 (estimate £500 – £800), and it is being sold by actress Jean Fergusson, who played Marina from 1984 to the mid-1990s. more »

Tibetan Armour & 1860s Fashionistas

BLOG Tibetan armourIs this Lady Gaga’s latest outfit? Er, no. The pop star is famed for outlandish gear such as the dress made of slabs of meat she took to the MTV Video Music Awards in LA in 2010, but as far as we know she hasn’t tried Tibetan armour just yet.

Early armour from Eastern Tibet is an understandably rare commodity but West London auction house Thomas Del Mar’s June 25 sale included this well-preserved suit of decorated lamellar leather which sold at £5,000.

Two pairs of large plates protected the torso, front and back, while the long skirt was made up of eight overlapping tiers of leather bands linked by leather thongs. more »

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