Treasured family jewellery among third haul of Margaret Thatcher's personal items to be sold off at auction

Hannah Furness
Margaret Thatcher wears the ring and bracelet as she leaves Downing Street - Getty Images Contributor

A ring and bracelet bought for Baroness Thatcher by her husband Denis and worn as treasured everyday jewellery throughout her working life are to be auctioned, in a sale of affordable memorabilia by her loved ones.

The auction, of 170 items, is an unexpected third part to what is now being described as a “trilogy” of sales which began in 2015 and have already made £4.5 million.

The third and final sale, announced yesterday, will include an array of items from throughout her working life, from clothes and handbags to papers and photographs she kept until her death.

Christie’s said the property is being “sold on behalf of beneficiaries of Baroness Thatcher’s estate” with some items being offered on behalf of an unnamed charity.

The will has previously been reported as dividing her fortune into thirds for her son Sir Mark, daughter Carol and her grandchildren.

Lady Thatcher’s personal assistant, Cynthia "Crawfie" Crawford, is once again working with the auction house to share her insights into the history behind each item.

Lot 4, £300-£500

With the exception of a handful of items of jewellery, the lots offered at the online-only auction are relatively affordable, with estimates from £200 to several thousand.

The third sale will be timed to mark the 40th anniversary of Lady Thatcher’s election as Prime Minister.

The items have all been in the possession of the beneficiaries of her will since her death, in her home or in storage, and have not been exhibited or sold before.

Many are objects she treasured, including a photograph she said captured how she “wanted to be remembered”, the schedule from her final day in office, and the outfits she wore during key moments of her leadership.

Two items, an amethyst ring and hardstone pebble bracelet, will be considered particularly special for her admirers, having been worn as everyday jewellery and seen in many of the most famous photographs of her at work.

Lot 5: £1,500 to £2,500 

Given to her in the late 1960s as gifts by her husband Denis, they were on her hand and wrist on the day she became Prime Minister, the moment she shook hands with Gorbachev at Chequers, her Downing Street meeting with Nelson Mandela, her trip to Camp David with Ronald Reagan and the moment she finally left Number 10.

“They've been there at every moment in her political career,” said Adrian Hume-Sayer, director and specialist of private collections.

“They're such evocative objects - it doesn't get more personal than them.

“As far as I know, those were the only things that were completely omnipresent. They're in good condition but very well worn. The sheen has gone off the stones because she was wearing them all the time.”

The ring is estimated to sell for £1,200 to £1,800, and the bracelet for £1,500 to £2,500, although both are likely to fetch significantly more thanks to their back-story.

The way Mrs Thatcher "wanted to be remembered"

Other items include a diamond-set gilt Cartier pen in its box, her House of Commons desk blotter and two of her signature handbags.

One lot, entitled “last day in power”, is a printed schedule for November 28, 1990, likely to have been carried in her bag all day and giving the timings of her hair styling, her appointment with the Queen, spare time for packing and a proposed dinner with Denis and friends at the Savoy Grill.

There are three signed Privy Council pictures, including one from the day when the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer was approved, as well as numerous items relating to Lady Thatcher’s friend US President Ronald Reagan.

A rare photograph of her wearing red, avoided in the UK for its political associations but embraced in Japan, was a personal favourite of the politician, who once said it is how she would like to be remembered.

Autographed speech notes, £700 - £1,000

Hume-Sayer said the third sale included remaining items that could not fit in the first two 2015 auctions, covering “all facets of her life”.

"The market's response to the historic sales in 2015 - both the online sale and the traditional live auction - was remarkable, with the overall result for The Mrs Thatcher Collection Part I and II far exceeding pre-sale expectations,” he said.

"Clients from all over the world seized the opportunity to acquire items which gave insights into the life of Britain's first female Prime Minister, who was a political giant on the world stage.

"In May 2019, Christie's third and final sale in this trilogy of auctions coincides with the 40th anniversary of Mrs Thatcher's historic election, offering collectors, admirers and enthusiasts with one last chance to bid for a memento of 'The Iron Lady'."

Mrs Thatcher, Part III, an online sale, will be open for bidding between May 2 - May 9. The sale is available to view online now.

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