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Monday 4 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
suits you sir

What does the discerning gentleman collect?

Glass eyes, 45-million-year-old fossils and Winston Churchill’s half-smoked cigar among the items sold at annual curios auction.

LONDON AUCTION HOUSE Bonham’s have just held one of their most unusual annual auctions. The Gentleman’s Library Sale traditionally features collectables and furniture which one could imagine sitting comfortably in one’s private library/smoking room/19th century private gentleman’s club.

But who on earth buys Winston Churchill’s upper denture plate (it sold for stg£19,200)? Or a collection of 1920s glass eyes?

The first six pics in the following slideshow show some of the items which went under the hammer at Bonham’s on Wednesday this week. The rest are items which sold in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Gentleman’s Library auction at Bonham’s. This, apparently, is what counts as hot stuff for the discerning (most likely, British) gentleman collector:

What does the discerning gentleman collect?
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  • Glass eyes

    A collection of 1920s glass eyes.
  • Pre-historic fossils

    A rare Devonian period (450-million-year-old) Ammonite fossil, found in Morocco.
  • Tiller from author Arthur Ransome's boat

    The tiller from author Arthur Ransome's yacht, Nancy Blackett, named after one of the Amazon pirates in his novel Swallows And Amazons.
  • Nelson mourning ring

    A Nelson mourning ring, one of 500 made to commemorate the death of Admiral Lord Nelson - this one was owned by Surgeon Beattie who attended Nelson on the Victory as he lay dying.
  • Churchill's half-smoked cigar

    A box containing some of Winston Churchill's Cuban cigars, including one part smoked.
  • A bust of Buffalo Bill

    A bust of William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody, by French sculptor Jean Georges Pierre Achard.
  • Silver-embossed wheelbarrow

    A silver wheelbarrow and matching spade presented to British PM William Gladstone to commemorate his cutting of the first sod of the Wirral railway in 1892 (2011 auction).
  • Churchill's dentures

    A top denture plate made for Winston Churchill. (2011 auction)
  • African elephant skull

    A 19th century African elephant skull. (2010 auction)
  • Old Downing Street sign

    A 19th century Downing Street sign. (2010 auction)
  • Tortoiseshell and ivory dressing-table

    Tortoiseshell and ivory dressing table swing mirror. (2010 auction)
  • 19th century travel chess set

    A late 19th century rosewood games compendium. (2010 auction)
  • Leopard skin with mounted head

    A man walks past a leopard's skin with mounted head. (2009 auction)
  • Bonhams' annual Gentleman's Library Sale

    A collection of butterflies on display pins. (2009 auction)
  • Mammoth tooth

    Mammoth tooth. (2009 auction)
  • Polar bear

    A taxidermied polar bear. (2009 auction)
  • Mini globe

    A Carl Bauer 2-inch terrestrial globe. (2009 auction)

(All pictures from Press Association Images)

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