Top five collectible couples

5. Lady Hamilton and Lord Nelson

Lady Hamilton Lord Nelson signed letter
There is only one other later example sent by Lady Hamilton

Lord Nelson's affair with Lady Emma Hamilton seems to have been tolerated by both of their estranged partners. Nelson frequently wrote to his wife, Lady Fanny Nelson, of Emma's virtues, while the elderly Sir William Hamilton's respect for the great leader meant that he turned a blind eye to, and even encouraged, Nelson's relationship with his young wife.

Much of the correspondence between the lovers was destroyed in order to conceal their not-so-clandestine relationship. However, the letters that have survived are now some of the most treasured Nelson collectibles.

A letter sent by Lady Hamilton before she had received word of Nelson's death sold for $68,500 in New York on Tuesday (November 6), beating its $18,000 high estimate by 280.5%.

See all of our Nelson collectibles here.

4. Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte

Napoleon signed Kremlin letter
We have a selection of Napoleon's letters, all written in his flourishing hand

The widow Josephine de Beauharnais was the mistress of several leading French politicians before she met the Little General in 1795. Napoleon soon fell in love with Josephine - who was six years older than him - and in December 1795 wrote: "I awake full of you. Your image and memory of last night's intoxicating pleasures has left no rest to my senses."

A collection of 50 letters between the amorous couple brought $1m to a French auction in 2010. Such was Napoleon's love for Josephine that in one of the letters she wrote: "My husband does not love me, he adores me. I believe he will go mad."

We are currently offering a selection of Napoleon signed letters as well as authentic strands of his hair.

3. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Queen Victoria mourning Prince Albert
A family in mourning: a photograph of the royals taken shortly after Albert's death

Another of history's great romances, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were happily married in 1840 and remained so until Albert's death in 1861. Victoria was so saddened by his passing that she famously wore black for the rest of her days.

On the night of their wedding Victoria wrote in her diary: "I NEVER, NEVER spent such an evening!!! MY DEAREST DEAREST DEAR Albert... He clasped me in his arms, & we kissed each other again & again! Oh! This was the happiest day of my life!"

Few of the queen's candid writings on her husband have appeared at auction, with the majority held in museums. However, in June this year the black mourning dress that she wore following Albert's death sold for $9,600.

View our superb collection of Queen Victoria items.

2. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

Elizabeth Taylor Richard Burton wedding rings
Taylor and Burton's wedding rings (valued at $6,000-8,000)
sold for $1m

Although Elizabeth Taylor had many husbands in her lifetime, while she was married to Richard Burton they reigned as the undisputed king and queen of Hollywood. Their relationship began while both were still married and saw the Vatican condemn it as "erotic vagrancy".

The remarkable auction of Taylor's jewellery will forever be remembered in the collectibles world, with several auction records set during the $115m sale in 2011. The top lots of the auction were an $11.8m pearl necklace and $8.8m diamond ring, both of which were given to her by Burton.

1. Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII

The Duchess of Windsor diamond panther bracelet
The Duchess of Windsor's bracelet is the most valuable ever sold

The most romantic, fascinating and controversial royal romance, King Edward VIII famously abdicated his throne for Wallis Simpson after both the Church of England and the British government condemned his proposed marriage to the twice-divorced socialite.

Infatuated with Simpson, the former king lavished many fine gifts upon her as they travelled between Europe and the US. In the 2010 sale of her jewellery collection, a Cartier-designed onyx and diamond panther bracelet that Edward gave her sold for $7.2m to become the most expensive bracelet and Cartier item ever sold at auction.

We have a superb handwritten letter from Wallis Simpson to her close friend Baroness Rothschild.

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