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Queen Victoria’s mourning jewels set for auction

They are being sold for the first time, having been passed down the late monarch’s descendants.

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A hardstone, enamel and diamond memorial pendant, circa 1878 (Sotheby’s)

A hardstone, enamel and diamond memorial pendant, circa 1878 (Sotheby’s)

A hardstone, enamel and diamond memorial pendant, circa 1878 (Sotheby’s)

Queen Victoria’s mourning jewels, which reveal the “intimate side” of the monarch, are going under the hammer.

A button, a brooch and pendants, some containing locks of hair, “brought solace” to the Queen following the death of her mother and three of her nine children.

They are being sold for the first time, having been passed down the late monarch’s descendants, through Princess Alice, for generations.

Queen Victoria was famously associated with mourning, wearing black every day for 40 years after husband Albert died, until her own death.

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Banded agate and diamond locket, circa 1861 (Sotheby’s)

Banded agate and diamond locket, circa 1861 (Sotheby’s)

Banded agate and diamond locket, circa 1861 (Sotheby’s)

But “these are almost another level,” David Macdonald, Sotheby’s specialist and head of sale for the auction, told the PA news agency of the mourning jewels.

“They are very biographical.”

He added: “You think of Victoria and you think of the great jewels of state, the diamonds, the Koh-i-Noor, all these stones.

“These jewels are much more intimate, their value isn’t through large diamonds…

“Their value lies in the full expression, an emotional, deeply personal expression about loss and love.”

They will go under the hammer in an auction of the collection of the great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Patricia Knatchbull, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

The objects were kept “in a drawer in a family home”.

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Banded agate and diamond locket, circa 1861 (Sotheby’s)

Banded agate and diamond locket, circa 1861 (Sotheby’s)

Banded agate and diamond locket, circa 1861 (Sotheby’s)

Mr Macdonald said: “Their existence wasn’t known… We came across these whilst working on the auction. So they’re undocumented and a really interesting discovery.”

He added: “I’d love them to go to a British institution, a British museum would be wonderful….(or) to end up with someone… who is fascinated by British history, Queen Victoria, and particularly that sort of personal side.”

One of the objects, an agate and diamond pendant, was commissioned by Prince Albert for his wife to mark the death of her mother.

He died the same year he gave her the pendant, which contained a lock of her mother’s hair, a miniature photograph and a “touching inscription” from Albert.

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Hardstone, enamel and diamond memorial pendant (Sotheby’s)

Hardstone, enamel and diamond memorial pendant (Sotheby’s)

Hardstone, enamel and diamond memorial pendant (Sotheby’s)

“So that would have had multiple layers of significance to Victoria,” Mr Macdonald said.

Pendants and a button commemorate the death of her third daughter, Alice, from diphtheria at the age of 35.

Mr Macdonald added of the objects, which have individual estimates ranging from £1,000 to £3,000: “You don’t look at them and think, ‘Ahhh’.

“It’s only when you handle them, you realise they really are treasure with descriptions and the locks of hair… And moreover to have them directly from the hand of Victoria, all the way down.

“To me, they speak not so much of Victoria, Queen and Empress, but Victoria, mother and wife.”

Sotheby’s London will hold an auction of the collection of Patricia Knatchbull, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma, on March 24 and the lots will be exhibited in New Bond Street from March 20 to 23.

PA


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