Royal memorabilia market: 2012 auction review

High grossing sales in 2012 have proved royal memorabilia still has the power to command massive interest as well as great returns. One of the most varied categories in terms of collectibles, we have witnessed a chess board, Land Rover and a slice of cake go under the hammer this year, all under the canopy of royal memorabilia.

The Duchess of Cambridge's enduring popularity has continued to foster strong results at auction. In June, a pair of the duchess' hats, which she wore several months prior to her marriage, sold for £6,939 ($11,174). Following the recent announcement of their pregnancy, interest in collectibles relating to Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge has soared.

For the top sale of the year however, we have to look outside of the UK...

Top sale

Sales inclusive of Madame Pompadour's desk at Christies on December 6 totalled £19.8m ($31.9m)

  • A Louis XV ormolu mounted drop-leaf desk (pictured), once owned by royal mistress Madame Pompadour - a woman renowned for her good taste in interiors - sold at Christie's London in December for £3.2m ($5.1m).

New records in 2012

Kate Middleton top 5 collectibles
The first slice of Catherine and William's wedding cake ever to sell at auction.

  • Madame Pompadour's desk broke the world record for a Bernard II Van Risen Burgh (BVRB) designed piece in December. A second, smaller BVRB desk sold at the same London sale for £2m ($3.3m), becoming the second most valuable item accredited to the 17th century furniture designer.   
  • Here at Paul Fraser Collectibles we were lucky enough to be able to offer a slice of cake from the April 29 wedding of Catherine Middleton and Prince William. The first of its kind ever to be offered at auction, the cake, which was originally designed by Fiona Cairns, achieved £1,918 ($3,100) in May.   

Aside from Kate and Wills, it was a break out year for…

A nineteenth century royal mistress topped Bonhams November art auction

  • The unofficial wives at court, with collectibles related to both Madame Pompadour and Jane Digby - the one-time lover of King Otto of Greece - performing well at auction. Jane Digby's miniature portrait sold at Bonhams in November for £13,750 ($21,908) - representing a 1045.8% increase on its £1,200 ($1,911) top-end presale estimate.

A year to forget for…

  • Pippa Middleton. The Duchess of Cambridge's younger sister's debut book, a guide to entertaining entitled Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends, was met with wide spread derision and could be found languishing in bargain bins just a few weeks after its release. Pippa's top tip for Christmas? "Because of their size, turkeys are perfect for feeding large gatherings."

One you may have missed…

King Farouk's James Cox musical clock
The James Cox-designed clock is surmounted by the figure of a silver dragon.

  • King Farouk's musical clock sold at a hotly contested Bonhams London auction, which took place in December. The ornate clock achieved £385,250 ($577,547) - a 43% increase on its £250,000 ($403,000) presale valuation.   

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