A collection of memorabilia from the suffragette movement dramatically outperformed its estimate at Hansons Auctioneers on July 2.
The lot consisted of photographs, badges and sashes as well as pamphlets and other ephemera. It was found packed into a shoebox under the stairs of a home in London during a clearance.
The box and the home had originally belonged to three sisters (Grace, Edith and Florence Hodgson) who were the great aunts of one of the consignors. Originally valued at £1,500 ($1,976) it ended up selling for £16,000 ($21,077) – a result that brought auctioneer Isabel Murtough to tears.
Murtough said later: “I have to confess I didn’t know much about the suffragette movement until I made this find but, after doing my research, I learned so much. These women went to jail and on hunger strike to fight for women’s right to vote. Discovering more about what they went through has had a deep impact on me.
“The seller came to a free Hansons’ antiques valuation event with the collection, which included badges, sashes and more than 100 period postcards. I knew at once that it was extra special. The owner said she’d place the item in our auction if I thought it would make more than £150.”
The Hodgson sisters became involved in the suffragette movement in the early 1900s and were clearly valued members. The collection includes postcards and notes from some big names, including Emmeline Pankhurst. Grace Hodgson even spent some time in prison for her efforts.
The buyer is Elizabeth Crawford, an expert on the suffrage movement and sometime dealer. She said: “This collection is very unusual and it will give me great pleasure to research and catalogue these items.
“I will be looking into the lives of the sisters. As a dealer, I can’t promise that all the items will stay together but some of them will go to important institutions which could not have afforded to buy the collection in its entirety.”