Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The Young Pretender's 'secret service' ring goes up for auction

From The Scotsman:
Entrusted only to those loyal to Bonnie Prince Charlie, it showed their allegiance to the Jacobite cause.

AS HE hid out in the Highlands after the battle of Culloden, Bonnie Prince Charlie needed to pass secret messages to his loyal supporters across Scotland.

But even the mention of the Young Pretender, who was being pursued by government troops with a £30,000 bounty on his head, would mean a messenger being tortured and executed.

So, in a forerunner to the modern secret service, heralds from the prince would wear a gold ring, set with an emerald, to signal their allegiance.

As supporters met in a moonlit glen, the recipient of a message would search for the simple band, which bore a concealed cypher to prove the bearer's allegiance to the Jacobite cause.

Only when he saw the jewel did he know the information, which often contained details of the prince's hiding place, was the truth.

Tomorrow, the ring, which bears the inscription "CRIII 1766: Charles Rex, 1766" under the stone, will go on sale at an Edinburgh auction house.

According to Colin Fraser, a Scottish silver specialist at the auctioneer Lyon and Turnbull, the ring tells the story of the persecution of the Jacobites, who wanted Charles on the throne, in the wake of their defeat at Culloden in 1746, a year after the 1745 uprising.

"This ring was used as a 'signature' when travelling with correspondence from Charles," Mr Fraser said yesterday.

"No document could carry a signature or seal, as if the bearer was found in possession of such marked papers by government troops, he would almost certainly have been sentenced to death.

"Therefore, this ring would accompany the messenger to show they had originated from Charles and (the papers] were considered an official document.

"This Jacobite 'secret service' provided an invaluable service to Charles, who had to keep all his loyal supporters abreast of his plans and movements."

Mr Fraser explained that the ring would have been passed only to the prince's most trusted assistants.

As a Jacobite piece – such items are rare – the ring already has value. However, the date of the cypher is also important. When Charles's father, James, died in France in 1766, he considered himself the rightful king of Scotland and gave himself the title King Charles III.

The ring is being sold by a private owner, who obtained it from a museum in Montrose some years ago.

How and where the museum obtained the object remains a mystery, however.

Mr Fraser said: "We don't know of any others.

"We know of their existence, historically and through documentary evidence, but we don't know of any other exact examples ."

The ring is valued at between £2,000 and £3,000, but it is expected to fetch much more on the day of auction.

Mr Fraser added: "We're expecting a surprise on the day. There's been a healthy interest and there'll be healthy competition.

"We're expecting good money from this – any Jacobite relics are rare."


To say Jacobite relics are rare is an understatement. Something like this is unbelievable rare.
The estimate is a laugh. Expect 10, 20 times that or more. However, I would like to see the provenance!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

House clear-out nets designer £2.1m

A top designer and collector whose clients include Michael Jackson has pocketed over £2m after holding what was yesterday reported to be one of the UK’s largest country house clear-outs.

Keith Skeel said he had to detach himself from the sentimental value of over 4,000 antiques he put under the hammer from his private collection on Sunday at Loudham Hall in Suffolk.

Antiques snapped up ranged from silver lustre tea pots to a bronze fox statuette, raising Skeel £2.1million, following his decision last year to sell of his belongings inside the £6m home.

Quirkier treasures the designer parted with included a mahogany George III bookcase, which sold for £32,000, a commode from the same era which went for £27,000 and a ceramic pug dog found in London 22 years ago.

The high price tags of the items that were sold, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, never impressed Skeel, whose eye for antiques has enhanced the collections of Donna Karen, Michael Jackson and Barbara Streisand.

Skeel told auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull that the price of items never governed his purchase, rather he spent three decades acquiring pieces which were “sublime with a hint of the ridiculous.”

He said: “I chose my pedigree pugs in the same way I buy my antiques. I would always be drawn to the runt, as it stood out from the rest and nobody else appreciated its value.

“The irony is that for many years, there was abundance of runts from which to build my collections. But over the years, this has given way to a scarcity of the unusual and intriguing on today's open market and the desire and demand for the anomalous artifacts in which I have always perceived beauty.”

Speaking after auction, Skeel reportedly said he tried to “completely detach himself” from selling of his personal trinkets, and hoped they would find “nice homes and nice people.”

He added: “I have always thought of myself as a guardian rather than an owner of collections. I have so many beautiful things and they have given me great pleasure and have their own memories attached, but I want to see others delighting in them.”

Known in the trade as the “interior decorator’s decorator,” Skeel has supplied such leading design houses as Rose Tarlow, Mark Hampton and Carlton Varney, among others, with treasures and artful finds.

Monday, 4 February 2008


On Thursday next I am conducting a major auction for Goldemann James Auctions Ltd. Auctioneers of sports memorabilia and collectables.

Venue: The Greater Manchester Police Sports & Social Club at The Hough End Centre.

Date: Friday February 8th 2008. Viewing starts from 9.30am until 12.30pm and the sale starts at 1.00pm.

There are some great lots up for sale. The oldest is a 1904 Cornwall FA Final. Also, we have the 1923, 1924, 1933 and other FA Final programs as well the 1950 World Cup Final.

Being Manchester and the anniversary of the Munich Crash, there is quite a lot of Man U including a very rare copy of the last match before the crash.

Other clubs are well represented with large sections on Arsenal and Tottenham.

There are autographs also in the sale including George Best, Bobby Moore, Sir Matt Busby, Maradonna, Pele etc

Signed shirts, boots. pictures are also included.

There are also a handful of tennis items and a Tyson/Bruno boxing program.

521 lots.

You can view the whole auction by going to: