Historic jewellery to be auctioned by Dukes

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Auction of Tompion watch, Hardy hair brooch and gold merchant ring.

Dukes auction house in Dorchester is to auction of a number of historic pieces of jewellery on Thursday.

One of the main items to be featured is a Tompion & Banger pocket watch. The item comes from a private collection in Dorset and, according to Dukes, this is the first time it will be available on the open market.

Thomas Tompion was one of the best watch manufactures of the Queen Anne period and his bracket clocks have been known to make hundreds of thousands of pounds.

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The pocket watch has been given an estimate of £40,000 – 60,000. Part of the watch’s value stems from the fact the watch is quarter repeating, which means it is one of the rare pieces that chimes every quarter of an hour.

Other interesting items in the sale include a brooch believed to contain hair from Captain Thomas Hardy, of ‘kiss me Hardy’ fame, and a rare gold merchant ring.

The brooch is inscribed with the words ‘Capt. Thos Hardy 1815’ and is believed to be a memento from the American War, given to his mother upon his return. The piece is valued at £400 – £800.
Dukes cataloguer Amy Brenan explained the jewellery’s historic character did not necessarily add significantly to the value. “People these days find the hair a bit freaky,” she said. “They don’t really like it.”

The merchant ring also has historic import for the county. The ring was discovered by the vendor’s grandfather on Dorset’s famous Chesil Beach, as he combed the area for shells. Made in around 1450, the ring’s shank is inscribed with the words ‘Oh mother of god, remember me.’

To find such a ring in gold is unusual, as most merchant pieces were made in either silver or bronze. The piece was on display for some time at The Dorset County Museum and is only now available to buy.

A large selection of fine jewellery will also be also sold at the Dukes auction, including a Belle Epoque emerald and diamond necklace, emerald and diamond earrings, a Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet in sapphire and diamond, and a La Cloche bar brooch.

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