Oliver Cromwell coffin plate among highlights in December 9 sale

A copper plate taken from the coffin of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) is up for auction at Sotheby's.

The lot will cross the block in the English Literature, History, Children's Books and Illustrations sale in London on December 9 with an ?�8,000-12,000 ($13,434-20,152) estimate.

Oliver Cromwell's body was exhumed in 1661

After Cromwell's death in 1658, he was interred in Westminster Abbey, where he lay in state for two weeks until his funeral.

The Order Book of the Privy Council records the commissioning of the plaque: "his Highness Corps being embalmed, with all due rites appertayneing thereunto, and being wrapped in Lead, There ought to be an Inscripcion in a plate of Gold [i.e. gilded metal, not necessarily gold] to be fixed upon his Brest before he be putt into the Coffin.

"That the Coffin be filled with odours, and spices within, and Covered without with purple Velvett, and handles, Nayles, and all other Iron Worke about it, be richly hatched with Gold."

This reverence was not to last.

In 1661, Cromwell was exhumed on the orders of a reinstated King Charles II - who was keen to exact revenge on his old enemy.

His body was hung, draw and quartered and his head mounted on a spike on the Palace of Westminster.  

The present lot, "found in a leaden canister, lying on the breast of the corpse", was taken as a souvenir by James Norfolk - sergeant of the House of Commons.

We have this lightweight Unite coin minted under the reign of Charles I, father of Charles II.

A recently discovered notebook of poems by Dylan Thomas will also feature in the sale.

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