Belfast Telegraph

King Billy's stirrups unsold as bidders fail to meet £40,000 price

By Staff Reporter

King Billy's stirrups may be old, but not everyone thinks they're beautiful - not £40,000 worth of beautiful, anyway.

The 17th century copper alloy stirrups worn by King William III at the Battle of the Boyne failed to meet their £40,000 reserve price at a swish London auction house yesterday.

They were among 25 items offered in the 2017 Exceptional Sale at Christie's, the London auction house.

There had been speculation that the stirrups could fetch up to £60,000, given their links to the key figure in England's Glorious Revolution of the late 17th century.

The 390-year-old stirrups were originally made for the coronation of Charles I, William's grandfather, and were later used by William III at the Boyne.

Charles I became King in 1625, but his coronation did not take place until the following year - 1626 is inscribed on the leather of these stirrups, next to a crown with the cypher CR, standing for Charles Rex.

According to Christie's, no other pairs of 17th century stirrups with a royal association are known to survive.

Nigel Shaw is the agent for the owner, who wished to remain anonymous.

Mr Shaw said the royal stirrups were eventually handed down to Lieutenant Colonel William Blacker around 1797.

"Blacker was one of the founders of the Orange Order in Armagh," he explained prior to the auction.

"In order to recruit people to the Orange Order, he took these stirrups with him around the towns of Ireland and used them as propaganda, so they became quite important.

"Since that time they've been in the family, passed down, until they eventually ended up with the seller I represent."

It is not known whether, after yesterday's setback, the stirrups will be placed in a future auction with an amended reserve, or will be retained by their owner until the market for Orange memorabilia improves.

Mr Shaw could not be reached for comment last night.

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