Oliver Cromwell copper plate realises 520% increase on estimate

A copper plate taken from the coffin of Oliver Cromwell has sold for ?�74,500 ($116,719) at Sotheby's London, up 520.8% on a ?�12,000 ($18,800) estimate.

The lot was among the highlights of an English Literature sale on December 9.

Cromwell plaque sothebys
Oliver Cromwell was exhumed and posthumously executed in 1661

Cromwell lay in state for two weeks in Westminster Abbey following his death - thought to have been caused by malaria and kidney stones - in 1658.

During those weeks the Privy Council commissioned a plaque to be placed inside his coffin.

The famous Order Book records the entry: "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."

In the chaos that followed his death, the old order was restored and in 1661 Charles II returned from exile in Europe.

Cromwell's body was disinterred and this plaque taken as a souvenir by the sergeant of the House of Commons, James Norfolke.

He was subjected to a posthumous execution and his head placed on a spike on Westminster Hall. Reportedly it fell off one day and was taken home by a guard.

It's said to rest in the chapel at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.

We have a fascinating memorabilia selection available, click here to take a look.

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