'Lawrence of Arabia' pocket knife is withdrawn from Charterhouse UK auction

It's bad news for us, because we were hoping to bid on it...

A pocket knife believed to have been the personal property of legendary British Army officer TE Lawrence - aka 'Lawrence of Arabia' - has been withdrawn from an auction at Charterhouse.

The knife was found in the garden of Clouds Hill, formerly Lawrence's home, in Dorset, UK. Lawrence lived there until the fatal motorcycle crash which claimed his life in 1935.

The pocket knife was uncovered in Clouds Hill's grounds 40 years ago.

Adding to the intrigue, the initials "TEL" (for Thomas Edward Lawrence) were burned into the knife's wooden handle. This, according to experts, was a technique Lawrence frequently used with many of his belongings.

TE Lawrence led the Arab Revolt against the Turks in the First World War.

This era of his life was famously portrayed by actor Peter O'Toole in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

Given the supposed history of this knife, we thought it was incredible that it was expected to bring just £300 in Charterhouse's sale.

Just one of the reasons why we wanted to bid on this (possibly) incredible knife. Then some bad news reached us: the pocket knife has been withdrawn from Charterhouse's sale.

The problem? Clouds Hill is a National Trust building, so there may have been a dispute of ownership over the knife.


TE Lawrence (right); and the portrayal by actor Peter O'Toole in the
1962 film Lawrence of Arabia (left)

Charterhouse Auctions are now in negotiations with the National Trust, stating "We are hoping to sell this by private treaty to the National Trust, and it is not available for general sale."

It's a shame that collectors are no longer in with a chance of owning what could be a fantastic memorabilia item from the life of a true British icon.  

But, 40 years after Lawrence is believed to have dropped this knife in Clouds Hill's grounds, at least it is closer to finding a good home.  

We may have missed out on Lawrence of Arabia's supposed knife, but this isn't the first TE Lawrence memorabilia piece we've come across at Paul Fraser Collectibles.

Among the pieces we've handled was this 1933 letter from Lawrence to Flight Sergeant Clark.

The fascinating note reports the extent of Thomas's travels and his safeguarding of "the five twin pinnacles". We sold the letter to a lucky buyer earlier this year - but you can still find out more about it here.

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