Lock of Charles I's hair sells for £3,910

BY MARIANNE MACDONALD

Arts Reporter

Locks of hair belonging to Charles I, Henry IV and Napoleon sold at auction yesterday for more than £5,500.

All three were bought by American John Reznikoff, a Connecticut dealer in manuscripts and autographs of famous people. He believes he owns the world's most valuable private collection of locks of hair.

He paid £3,910 for the red-brown lock of hair belonging to Charles I - far above its original estimate of up to £500. The lock was removed in 1813 from Charles I, 164 years after his death, after workmen building George III's tomb at Windsor accidentally broke through the wall of the vault.

The Prince Regent immediately authorised the vault to be opened to verify historical details of Charles I's burial and watched while his physician, Sir Henry Halford, removed the hair from the beard and right temple of the corpse.

Sir Henry later described its appearance. "The forehead and temples had lost little or nothing of their muscular substance; the cartilage of the nose was gone; but the left eye, in the first moment of exposure, was open and full, though it vanished almost immediately; and the pointed beard, so characteristic of the period of the reign of King Charles, was perfect."

Sir Henry gave the gruesome memento to Hans Busk, the eldest son of a Radnorshire landowner, whose descendants consigned it for sale.

The auction at Bonhams also included a lock of Napoleon's hair, which Mr Reznikoff bought for £345, and another from Henry IV's beard, which he bought for £1,265.

The proud owner said yesterday: "My collection includes locks from George Washington, Geronimo and Marilyn Monroe. Apart from Charles I's, hers is the most macabre because it was removed at her embalming in 1962. She was bloated and they had to make an incision at the back of her neck and the hair was in the way.

"But I don't really go for that angle. I see a lock of hair as a relic, a piece of the being of a long-gone hero. As far as I'm concerned the lock from Charles I is the most important because it's from the only monarch of England who had his head cut off and there's kind of an association with his losing all his hair in one fell swoop."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will also work alongside their seasoned sa...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for your first step into...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical Design Engineer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative company working...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat