Jewelled pig-shaped evening bag sells at auction for nearly £110,000

Laura Elston
·3-min read

An eccentric pig-shaped diamond and ruby evening bag has sold for more than £109,000 at auction.

The unusual purse – which went for 44 times more than expected – formed part of a huge sale of glittering jewellery and antique heirlooms which belonged to the late Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

The high society treasures fetched a total of over £5 million at Sotheby’s on Wednesday.

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Patricia Knatchbull, the 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma, who died in 2017, was a first cousin of the Duke of Edinburgh, a great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and a great niece of Russia’s last Tsarina.

She was the daughter of Earl Mountbatten – the last Viceroy of India – who was murdered by the IRA in 1979, and his wife Edwina.

Among the 385 lots was the Banks diamond brooch which sold for £138,600.

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The piece – which originally belonged to the explorer and botanist Joseph Banks – is set with a cushion-shaped yellow diamond, and was estimated to fetch up to £60,000.

The historic jewel was passed down through the Knatchbull Baronets.

The Lacloche Freres ruby and diamond evening mesh bag in the shape of a pig sold for £109,620 – 44 times its estimate of between £2,000 and £3,000.

The unusual purse features eyes set with cabochon rubies, a tail and trotters made of rose-cut diamonds and a spine of cushion-shaped diamonds.

Prince of Wales plaque Mountbatten
The Prince of Wales with Patricia Knatchbull, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma (John Stillwell/PA)

It belonged to the Countess’s mother Edwina, the 1st Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

The Mountbatten family loved animals and had a menagerie of pets wherever they lived, including a horse gifted to Edwina and Louis Mountbatten by the Maharajah of Jaipur for their wedding, and a lion cub that Edwina brought home from South Africa when Patricia was 13.

Sotheby’s said 1,400 bidders registered from 55 countries for the auction.

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Queen Victoria’s mourning jewels – a button, brooch and two pendants – some containing locks of hair sold for a combined total of £100,800.

The items were said to have brought solace to Victoria following the death of her mother and three of her nine children.

They included a banded agate and diamond pendant commissioned by Prince Albert in 1861 with a miniature photograph of the Duchess of Kent and a lock of hair which sold for £32,760.

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