On Saturday, 18 August, Henry Aldridge & Son are auctioning off selected items from the estate of the late David Gainsborough Roberts - one of Europe’s leading collectors of the eclectic and unusual. We want to show you some of the highlights.

We start with a couple of pieces of history: first, we have two early 19th century locket frames, but these aren’t just any pair of lockets. Each one composite frame contains a lock of hair and a little note.

Written on reverse it reads,  “The Emperor Napoleon’s hair cut off after his death given to the Countess of Ranfurly by Madame La Croix housekeeper of the Empress Josephine from the time when she was Madame De Beauharnais to her death”. With an additional note in French ”Cheveux de la Majesté l’Empereur apres la mort”

The note on the other side, also with a lock of hair, states “The Empress Josephine’s hair cut off 29 May 1814 given to the Countess Ranfurly by Madame la Croix housekeeper to the empresse before her marriage to the Emperor she remained with her until her death”

With an estimate between £700-1,200, this small pieceof  French history is indeed an unusual collector’s item.


The second highlight is just as special and historical as the first. It is a fragment of cloth said to come from the flag of the HMS Victory. The small stained black piece is mounted in a frame with a document stating “The Victory. Piece of pennant of the flag used to lay under Nelson’s head after he received the fatal wound”

The HMS Victory was Lord Nelson’s flagship during the violent Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. Lord Nelson almost completely wiped out the Spanish-French fleet but got fatally injured. Maybe it was lying on this piece of fabric that he learned that the last 18 enemy ships had surrender and he uttered his famous last words “Thank God! I have done my duty”

The victory at Trafalgar finally stopped Napoleon’s invasion and gave Great Britain control over the sea, and here the two great commanders Napoleon and Lord Nelson meet again - at an auction at Henry Aldridge & Son.

Apart from this the auction of Gainsborough Roberts’ estate also includes quite a bit of film and cinema memorabilia, for example, Audrey Hepburn’s 1935 silver enamel ladies compact from Dublin. The small compact is of circular form with the enamelled cover in shades of green. The lot is accompanied by a letter from the original vendor, Audrey Hepburn's stepmother, stating that the compact was given to her as a birthday present from the Hollywood legend during one of her visits to Dublin. The compact has an estimate between £1,500-2,500.

Another highlight is a bronze cigarette box previously owned by Alfred Hitchcock. The solid box features the movie creator’s famous signatory image on the removable cover. The inside is divided into two compartments, one containing a pair of dice, put there by Mr Hitchcock himself. The cigarette box has an estimate between £1,200-1,800.

Find the entire Henry Aldridge & Son catalogue here!