Queen Victoria's Christmas presents to John Brown sell at Bonhams for £23,400

Following yesterday's sale of some particularly difficult-to-collect whisky, Bonhams' Scottish sale in Edinburgh today sold Christmas presents from Queen Victoria to her favourite personal servant, John Brown, for £23,400.

A silver mounted claret jug, engraved V.R. TO J.B/VICTORIA 1872, which had remained in Brown's family until acquired by the current owner in the 1960s, sold for £14,300. It had been for sale estimated at just £4,000-6,000.

A teapot engraved "FROM VICTORIA R/CHRISTMAS 1876" and monogrammed 'J.B.' which was expected to sell for £5,000-7,000 made £9000.

Claret Jug given to John Brown by Queen Victoria
Claret Jug given to John Brown by Queen Victoria

Two very personal tributes to Brown produced after his death in 1883 also sold for well over their estimates.  A presentation memorial locket containing an enamelled photographic portrait of John Brown and a lock of his hair inscribed on the front DEAR JOHN/27 MARCH 1883 and on the reverse FROM V.R.I. made £13,200 (£4,000-6,000).

Famous hair is a surprisingly strong and coveted investment - a jar of Elvis's hair achieved £16,680 recently. Some of Victoria's contemporary Charles Dickens's hair is currently available.

A memorial stickpin with an enamelled photographic portrait and the engraving 'Uncle John/27 March 1883/from/V.R.I. presented by the Queen to one of Brown's nephews fetched £4,560 (it was listed at £1,500-2,000).

A gold memorial stickpin of Brown designed for her Highland servants and cottagers to be worn on the anniversary of his death, made £2,880 against an estimate of £1,500-2,000.

Finally, a painted porcelain plaque of one of Queen Victoria's favourite dogs, Fern, presented to Brown by Her Majesty was sold for £10,560, easily doubling its estimate of £3,000-5,000.

Collectors interested in Royal memorabilia may wish to take a look at this portfolio, including a signed photograph of Victoria herself.


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