What do one of Churchill’s cigars, a 35 million years old fossilised giant pig, a silver wheelbarrow presented to W.E. Gladstone, historic butterfly cabinets from the Natural History Museum and Christmas presents from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor have in common? They all feature in Bonhams annual Gentleman’s Library Sale on 19 January.
Victorian Mahogany Collectors’ Cabinet Made by J. J. Hill & Son. In two sections, the top section with a pair of arched panelled doors enclosing eighteen glass top and bottomed airtight drawers with interior sidewells and Bakelite knob handles, the bottom section with a pair of arched panelled doors enclosing thirty six drawers. Estimate: £2,000 – 3,000, USD 3,200 – 4,700. [Image: Bonhams]
During the war, portraits of Churchill were important propaganda tools but he rarely actually sat for them. In 1944 he did so, briefly, for the artist Frank O Salisbury who had already painted him many times. When the Prime Minister left, he discarded his half smoked cigar which the painter kept as a souvenir. It has been in the family ever since and is estimated at between £600 and £1,000.
A perfect place to keep it would be one of the 46 collectors’ cabinets from the Natural History Museum. Until recently they held the world famous butterfly collections of three Victorian gentlemen who competed to accumulate the greatest number of specimens and the most impressive. They range in estimate between £300 and £3,000.
Antique Cigar Case – Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s cigar case of black leather. Brunel (1806-1859) Innovator and Engineer, quite possibly one of the greatest Engineers of the Victorian period. Estimate: £22,000 – 30,000, USD 35,000 – 47,000. [Image: Bonhams]
The giant pig is among an array of fascinating and ancient fossils including a massive petrified tree trunk from the Triassic period, 235 years ago (estimate £5,000 – 7,000) and a beautiful large fossilised fish plate holding the forms of 26 perfectly preserved fish (£3,000 – 5,000).
Antique Wheelbarrow – Of Political and Railway interest; A late Victorian silver mounted wheelbarrow and shovel, by Walker & Hall, Sheffield 1892. Engraved with the following inscription “Presented by the Chairman and Directors of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolshire Ry., Co,m The Right Hon W. E. Gladstone. On the occasion of his cutting of the first sod of the Wirral Railway from Hawarden Bridge to Birkenhead 21st Ocotober 1892″. Estimate: £20,000 – 25,000, USD 32,000 – 40,000. [Image: Bonhams]
Four times Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone, was presented with the sliver wheelbarrow to commemorate his cutting of the first sod of the Wirral railway in 1892. It comes complete with spade and is estimated at between £20,000 – 25,000. There is a memento of another great Victorian in Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Cigar Box (estimate £22,000 – 30,000). An inveterate smoker, Brunel got through up to 40 cigars a day and is often pictured, cheroot in mouth and cigar case strapped across his chest.
Finally, Christmas presents from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to their private secretary for ten years, Mr Victor Waddilove, are among a small archive of memorabilia connected with the controversial couple (£2,000-2,500) The gifts include a gold pen knife and a silver beaker, both engraved with the ciphers of Edward and Wallis.
The Gentleman’s Library Sale is now in its 11th year. Unique to Bonhams, the sale features all kinds of objects that may have been found in a Victorian or Edwardian Gentleman’s Library from fossils to cigarette boxes, leather armchairs to globes, chess sets to family portraits.