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Cheap Brooch Turns Out To Be $19K Rare Victorian Treasure

The brooch was purchased 35 years ago at a market for less than $25. 
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A woman was left stunned after a brooch she bought at a market for less than £20 ($25) during the 1980s turned out to be a rare Victorian treasure – worth £15,000 ($19,000).

Flora Steel purchased the silver brooch 35 years ago not realizing it was a “historically significant” piece of jewelry dating back to the 19th Century.


She contacted auctioneers after noticing the design was similar to one which appeared on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow – and later sold for £31,000. And Flora was left gobsmacked when experts revealed her brooch was also an original by the great Victorian Gothic Revival designer and architect William Burges.


Burges is best known for designing Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch in South Wales and his designs remain on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He has also been described as “the greatest genius of 19th-century design.”

The William Burges’ brooch. GILDINGS AUCTIONEERS VIA SWNS.


Flora’s brooch will now go under the hammer in the spring with an estimate of £10,000 to £15,000 at Gildings Auctioneers, in Market Harborough, Leics.

She said: “The brooch originally caught my eye for its strong design, strange lettering and unusual stones. “I always loved it and thought that it was so particular in its design that sooner or later I would discover who had designed it.

“I’ve always adored the Antiques Roadshow, so when the clip popped up on my phone, I said to myself, ‘that reminds me of the brooch I found 35 years ago’.


“So, I decided to have a better look at the V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum) drawing and lo and behold there was my brooch. I practically fell off my chair.” The silver, coral, lapis lazuli and malachite brooch was acquired at a Midlands antiques market in 1988 by Flora, who is a Rome-based jewelry enthusiast. Her discovery is the third time a William Burges brooch had been uncovered by Gildings and Antiques Roadshow jewelry expert Geoffrey Munn.

The Burges Brooch from 2011. GILDINGS AUCTIONEERS VIA SWNS.


In 2011, pensioner Jill Cousins was watching Antiques Roadshow and saw Geoffrey revealing his decades-long search for brooch designs by Burges. Jill, of Market Harborough, recognized one of the designs as an unwanted item she had forgotten to take to the local market to sell just two days earlier.


The silver, turquoise and garnet brooch was later confirmed as a Burges design, probably made for the wedding of his friend and fellow architect John Pollard Seddon in 1864.

Geoffrey described the find as his “Tutankhamen experience”, estimating it could make £10,000 at auction.

It went on to triple this figure when it sold at Gildings for £31,000 in August 2011. Later in 2011, another viewer realized they too had the same brooch while watching an Antiques Roadshow Christmas special.

The William Burges’ brooch. (Gildings Auctioneers via SWNS)


This owner also contacted Gildings, who arranged a private sale to the V&A, where this example is now displayed in the jewelry galleries. The same auctioneers has now confirmed Flora’s brooch was designed by Burges -this time for the wedding of an unknown individual named Gibson.


“It was clear this was another one of the designs on the page of sketches,” said Gildings director Will Gilding. “So, now a Burges brooch has again been discovered via a chance sighting via the Antiques Roadshow.

“For it to happen once, amazing. Twice, remarkable. A third time? Pinch me! “Whether this brooch reaches the heights of the first one we auctioned or indeed results in any more examples being unearthed remains to be seen.

“However, as a fascinating piece of jewelry with an even more intriguing backstory, we’re honored to be playing a part in its continued history as we present it to the open market next year.”


Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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