Antiques Roadshow reveals astonishing value of lock of poet Wordsworth's hair

The owner had been keeping the folded paper containing scraps of hair from romantic poets Coleridge, Wordsworth and Southey in a bottom drawer at home.

Watch: Antiques Roadshow expert evaluates locks of poets' hair

An Antiques Roadshow expert has confessed to being "incredible moved" as he valued locks of hair belonging to romantic poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth.

Antiquarian book specialist Justin Croft said the collection of folded slips of paper and envelopes containing scraps of hair, which the owner had been keeping in a bottom drawer, were worth £30,000-40,000.

Croft confessed: "They caught my eye immediately because of the names. I'm looking at S.T. Coleridge, which must be Samuel Taylor Coleridge, R. Southey which must be Robert Southey and here Mr Wordsworth, so William Wordsworth. We're looking at a triumvirate of the great romantic poets.

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"Among the documents is this very fine portrait of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I think always of Kubla Khan as his greatest poem, and others would mention The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner."

Fiona Bruce hosts the Antiques Roadshow. (BBC)
The Antiques Roadshow, hosted by Fiona Bruce, featured locks of hair taken from romantic poets Coleridge and Wordsworth. (BBC)

Wordsworth is perhaps best known for his poem I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud, while Southey was Poet Laureate from 1813 to 1843 and wrote the original version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

The Antiques Roadshow guest revealed on the BBC show: "I got them because they were handed down to me by my father, grandfather and so on. The hair was taken very often because a couple was going to be parted, they'd take some hair as a sort of a keepsake, and I presume that's how they all came together in the end."

He admitted: "They've sat in a bottom drawer at home for as long as I've known."

A portrait of the English philosopher and poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), most famous for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan. Coleridge was a member of the Lake Poets who, with his friend William Wordsworth, founded the Romantic Movement in England. He also helped introduce German idealism to English-speaking culture and was influential on American transcendentalism (via Ralph Waldo Emerson). Throughout his adult life, Coleridge suffered from crippling bouts of anxiety and depression, which he chose to treat with opium, becoming an addict in the process. He died at age 61 due to symptoms typical of prolonged opium usage. (Photo by: Pictures From History/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Two of the locks of hair were taken from Kubla Khan poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge at different stages in his life. (Getty Images)

Croft admitted: "I'm dying to have a look... Shall we open this up, I'm going very carefully here."

One of the folded papers contained just a few strands of wiry black hair, taken from Coleridge as a young man, while another had a lock of white hair held together with a tiny loop of silk and was believed to have been taken from the poet on his death bed.

Holding Coleridge's hair he said: "It's quite extraordinary just holding that, it takes me very close to those great poets... To think about that being cut from that poet's hair on his death bed is incredible moving."

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The antiques expert revealed: "If we want to talk value, with the picture and locks of hair, without a show of a doubt we’re looking at £30,000 - £40,000."

The owner laughed: "I'll have to look after them a bit better."

The latest series of the BBC antiques show, which has run for 45 series since 1979, previously revealed a signed helmet and overalls belonging to Formula One star Sir Lewis Hamilton to be worth £10,000.

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