Scots artefacts auction success 169



By Alexander Lawrie

TWO items of historical Scottish importance have sold at auction for thousands of pounds above their estimated value.

A silver sword which once belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie sold to an English Jacobite collector for an astonishing £22,800.

And a lock of hair belonging to Mary Queen of Scots was snapped up for a whopping £7200.

The strands of hair, which are mounted on top of a jewellery box and once belonged to Lady Belhaven, was originally expected to fetch around £3000.

While the 2ft 8inch engraved silver sword was only initially valued at £7000.

The jewellery box carries the inscription “A Lock of Queen Mary’s Hair Which Belonged to the Late Lady Belhaven”.

The historic artifact was discovered locked away in a secret drawer of a bureau in Lord Belhaven’s official residence at Holyrood Palace in the mid-1800’s.

An envelope with a handwritten note with the words “a lock of my own hair” and signed “Mary R” was also found alongside the lock.

The signature was later authenticated as that of Queen Mary Stuart after it was compared with original documents held in the Royal Collections.

After finding the lock of hair, Lord Belhaven gave it to the then monarch, Queen Victoria

It is also believed previously a butler at Holyrood Palace took a small section of the hair and gave it as a token to a lady in waiting.

That piece was sold by Lyon & Turnbull in 2001, and is now in the Hawick Museum and Scott Gallery.

The lock of hair and the jewellery box were sold to an anonymous buyer at the Lyon and Turnbull auction house in Edinburgh yesterday.

A spokesperson for Lyon and Turnbull said: “We had two bidders for the lock of hair, one on the telephone and one actually in the room.

“The bidder who attended the auction won with an unbelievable bid, but he went away a very happy man.

“He told me he was a collector of historical Scottish pieces and was absolutely delighted to have bought the lock of hair.

“He had no idea of its worth or what it was going to go for, but he said he just had to have it.”

The beautifully engraved silver sword belonging to Bonnie Prince Charlie formed part of a collection which was being held in Cumbria.

Colin Fraser, a silver specialist with Lyon and Turnbull, said: “It measures about two feet eight inches long and has a beautifully modelled guard overlaid with floral decorations.

“There is a skilfully engraved representation of a halberd – a two handled weapon – and banner crossed over by a spear and cannon with drums.

“There is also a fire blue and gilt decoration with a ‘C’ surmounted by a royal crown with a stylised thistle. The blade is contained within a silver mounted scabbard.”

The anonymous English buyer was said to be “over the moon” at winning the bidding frenzy that surrounded the sale of the sword.

Born in Rome in 1720, Bonnie Prince Charlie was the exiled Jacobite claimant to the British throne who led the Scottish Highland army in the 1745 Rebellion. He was the son of James Francis Edward Stuart and grandson of James II of England.

Charles raised his father’s standard at Glenfinnan and marched on the city of Edinburgh, which quickly surrendered.

His forces were routed at Battle of Culloden in April, 1746.

He was hunted as a fugitive for more than five months, but made his escape to France in September 1746.