'Tudor chain of office' is the subject of a court case for Sotheby's 'negligence'

British aristocrat Lord Coleridge is suing auction house Sotheby's for negligence over a gold chain of office which it valued as a copy.

The lord had been hoping that the family heirloom was the nest egg which would save his estate, but Sotheby's expert assessed it in 2006 as being a copy, rather than a Tudor original and valuing it at £35,000 accordingly.

The Lord sold it on to a collector in line with that price - a significant sum, but not ultimately enough to save his dwelling.

However, in November 2008, Sotheby's great rival Christie's sold it on as the genuine article at £200,000-300,000. It beat even this listing to sell for £313,000.

The chain is centred on a classic Tudor rose flanked by portcullises, and otherwise consists of twenty-seven 'esses'.

Gold livery Tudor chain of office
The disputed 'gold livery Tudor chain of office'

Christie's dated it to 1546-7 and described it as a 'Gold Livery Collar, formerly the Chain of Office for the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas'.

It lists ownership as starting at least as early as Sir Edward Montagu in 1551, and then being held by every Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas from then on until it was acquired by the Coleridge family in 1873.

Sotheby's maintains that the item is a 17th century copy.

Collectors on the lookout for items which definitely do date to Tudor times should take a look at this petition, which bears the autograph of King Henry VIII himself - we're currently holding it in stock.


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