MAGNIFICENT ORDERS GIVEN BY TSAR NICHOLAS I OF RUSSIA, LEOPOLD I OF BELGIUM, OTHO OF GREECE AND WILLIAM IV TO FIRST EARL OF DURHAM SELL FOR £4 MILLION IN LONDON AUCTION
RUSSIAN ORDERS FETCH UNPRECEDENTED PRICES
• Order of St Andrew insignia sells for £1,320,000 (world auction record)
• Order of the White Eagle insignia sells for £852,000
• Order of St Alexander Nevsky insignia sells for £576,000
• Order of St Anne Grand Cross insignia sells for £372,000
A magnificent group of recently rediscovered Orders of Knighthood conferred during the 1830s upon John George Lambton, “Radical Jack”, the first Earl of Durham, by Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, Leopold I of Belgium, Otho of Greece and William IV of England, were sold for a total of £4,057,080 by specialist London auctioneers Morton & Eden in association with Sotheby’s today (Thursday 10 June 2010). The sale had been expected to raise £500,000.
Bidders in the room, on a bank of telephones and on the Internet ignored pre-sale estimates and spent freely on the unique collection which was being sold by a descendant.
The Orders comprised the Russian Order of St. Andrew (the highest honour the Tsar could bestow), which sold for a world auction record £1,320,000 against an estimate of £140,000-180,000; the associated Orders of St Alexander Nevsky (sold for £576,000, estimate £80,000-120,000); the White Eagle (sold for £852,000, estimate £80,000-120,00) and St Anne (£372,000, estimate £30,000-40,000). In addition, the Belgian Order of Leopold I sold for £19,200; the Greek Order of the Redeemer for £21,600, and the British Order of the Bath for £24,000.
Breast stars for the Order of St Andrew made by Nicholls and Plinke in St Petersburg and Rundell Bridge & Co., in London sold for £180,000 and £120,000 against an estimates of £5,000-7,000 respectively and a miniature collar and badge of the Order of St Andrew by Wilhelm Kämmerer of St Petersburg in 1838 sold for £240,000 against an estimate of £20,000-30,000.
Even the fitted mahogany box specially commissioned in 1838 to transport the Earl’s orders was wanted. Estimated at £600-800, it sold for £12,000.
The sale, in which every one of the 22 lots sold, was taken by Lord Poltimore, the Chairman of Sotheby’s Russia. Bidding battles were long and involved as Russian and Russian-speaking agents spoke to their clients by mobile phones, while bids also came from the packed saleroom, on the Internet and from a bank of telephones.
Bidding increments were also unpredictable. Lots which opened at a few thousand pounds suddenly leapt into the tens of thousands and beyond, while in some cases bidding rose by £100,000 at a time. There was applause when the Order of St Andrew insignia was hammered down for a world auction record price. (more…)