Discover the battle to keep Nelson Mandela collectibles in South Africa


As Nelson Mandela celebrates his 93rd birthday today (July 18), his collectibles continue to grow in demand and value.

Such is the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize winner's impact on civil rights in South Africa and the world; it is little wonder that his collectibles are so highly sought-after.

But they are also often the cause of much controversy as individuals and groups attempt to ensure that important items remain in South Africa and are not acquired by private buyers.

Nelson Mandela has inspired collectors and musicians alike

In 2010, a historic South African flag due for auction was saved for the nation in an agreement negotiated by auctioneer Bonhams in London.

The flag, signed by the three South African presidents - Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk - was flown at Mandela's presidential inauguration on May 10, 1994, when he became South Africa's first black president.

It was bought by an anonymous South African businessman and philanthropist for an undisclosed fee and handed over to the South African government.

"This is the happiest possible outcome for the flag," said Giles Peppiatt, Director of South African Art at Bonhams.

Last year also saw a group of businessmen and the Liliesleaf Trust buy Mandela's 1955 Freedom Charter for around £50,000, just days before it was set for auction at Bonhams with an estimate of £30,000.

Collectors looking for Mandela collectibles that will not be plucked from under their noses should peruse the private markets, where signed photos can be found at tempting prices.

In 2009, Charlize Theron landed herself in trouble after auctioning off a meeting with Mandela, a trip to the 2010 World Cup, and a 20-second kiss with the South African actress, for £26,880 to aid the OneXOne children's foundation.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation subsequently announced that it had not sanctioned the auction.


Join our readers in over 200 countries around the world - sign up for your free weekly Collectibles Newsletter today



Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock