AUCTIONS

How many locks of hair were shorn from the severed head of Charles II when his coffin was opened in 1823?
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Indy Lifestyle Online
A lock of Charles I's hair, thought to be unique, fetched pounds 3,910 at Bonhams Chelsea in April. But another is lurking among the manuscripts in Sotheby's sale of English literature, Monday (10.30am).

It claims the same provenance - a note affirming that Sir Henry Walford cut it off in the presence of the Prince Regent, when the king's coffin was opened in 1813 - but it is estimated at only pounds 400-pounds 500. Perhaps this is a hint that locks of Charles I's hair will soon be as plentiful at auction as Charlie Chaplin's canes?

Auctioneers are notorious for fixing teasingly low estimates. The ultimate price of the lock will depend partly on how many people are kicking themselves for not buying the first. And partly on how eager is John Reznikoff, president of Connecticut University, who did buy it, to whisk this one off the market so as to preserve the value of both. Back in April there was no shortage of bidders up to pounds 2,000: but they were after what they thought was a unique lock.

If you cannot afford the sale's love letter by Dylan Thomas to Caitlin, rescued from fish and chip wrapping (est pounds 2,000-pounds 2,500 but will soar), Coleridge's letters to his brother (pounds 45,000-pounds 55,000), or Oscar Wilde's unpublished poem "Heart's Yearnings" (pounds 8,000-pounds 10,000), solace may be found in intriguing, more modestly estimated lots such as the broadside "An account of the proceedings against Capt Edward Rigby ... for intending to commit the abominable sin of sodomy on ... one William Minton", dated 1698.

This reports evidence that, in a tavern, Minton, "feeling something warm touch his Skin, put his hand behind him and took hold of Rigby's Privy Member, and said to Rigby, I have now discovered your base inclinations, I will expose you to the World". Est pounds 800-pounds 1,000.

For the same estimate, there's hours of fun to be had in two metal trunks and a big box filled with the archive of a 19th-century firm of solicitors, which dates from the 17th century.

Most tantalising estimate: pounds 600-pounds 800 for a suitcase containing proof recordings of Churchill reading his wartime speeches.

Barbie doll is celebrating the 50th anniversary of her maker, Mattel Inc (yawn), and prices at Christie's South Kensington sale, Thursday (2pm) are expected to be between pounds 200 and pounds 400 for vintage models. Original boxed Barbies of 1959 with holes in their feet to fit a stand have fetched more than pounds 1,000.

Another collectable vinyl doll is appearing more frequently at auction: the sad, pensive Sasha, a high-quality make of the Sixties and Seventies. A boxed 1ft-tall Sasha with Moses basket and four outfits is est pounds 300- pounds 400.

Sold at Heal's and Liberty's in the Sixties, Troika pottery from St Ives, named after the Russian three-horse carriage and the firm's trio of partners, has become collectable since the firm went bust in 1983.

It has rough geometric forms and designs, roughened surfaces and is really rather ghastly.The collection of 22 pieces at Christie's South Ken, Friday (10.30am) has estimates between pounds 100 and pounds 600.

Almost hidden among the Luger and Mauser pistols in Bonhams' arms and militaria sale, Tuesday (1pm), is the original, jubilant ticker-tape received at Admiralty House, London, 7 May, 1945, reporting Germany's surrender. It is full of feverish typographical errors and ends: "OH BOY OH BOY, BIEE". Estimate: pounds 400-pounds 600 - about the same as the estimate for Charles I's hair.

Well, you know how reliable these estimates are...

For auctions and fairs around

the country, see page 15

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