An impressive natural pearl necklace
Lot 155Ω
An impressive natural pearl necklace
Sold for £311,200 (US$ 508,524) inc. premium

Lot Details
An impressive natural pearl necklace
Designed as a double row of graduating natural pearls, measuring 5.8-12.8mm. in diameter, to a polished bar clasp, length of shortest row 39.0cm.

Footnotes

  • Accompanied by a certificate from The Gem and Pearl Laboratory stating that the necklace is composed of natural saltwater pearls. Certificate number 02196, dated 5 November 2009.

    Provenance
    Lady Houston (1857-1936)
    Gifted to the grandmother of the current owner
    Thence by direct descent

    Lucy, Lady Houston, adventuress, philanthropist and benefactor of British aviation was born Fanny Lucy Radmall, daughter of a London box-maker, in 1857. By 1872 she was a professional dancer on the London stage known as 'Poppy' and when she was 16 she eloped to Paris with Frederick Gretton, of the Bass brewing family. Although they never married, 'Mrs Gretton', was known in Parisian circles as a fashionable beauty with a tiny waist. Gretton showered her with gifts and at his death in 1882 left her a lifetime annuity of £6000.

    In 1883 she married Theodore Francis Brinckman, the eldest son of a baronet. The couple divorced in 1895. Her second marriage, in 1901, was to George Frederick William Byron, 9th Baron Byron of Rochdale and lasted until his death in 1917. During this period she campaigned as a suffragette and was appointed Dame Commander, Order of the British Empire for her support of a home for nurses who had served in World War One.

    Her third and final marriage was in 1924 to Sir Robert Paterson Houston, a Conservative MP and Liverpool ship-owner. When he died, less than 18 months later, he left her £5.5 million (roughly £300 million in today's money) making her one of the richest women in Britain.

    Lady Houston was well known for her eccentricities and her contentious political views but her invaluable support of the British aviation team in the Schneider Trophy should not be underestimated.

    The prestigious Schneider Trophy, held eleven times between 1913 and 1931, was an international award presented to the country who designed the fastest seaplane over a specified course. Her financial support stimulated the advancement of engine technology that would eventually lead to the development of the Spitfire fighter plane during World War Two and help save Britain from defeat.

    Since 1922, the aeronautical engineer R J Mitchell, chief designer at the Supermarine factory, had overseen the British entry. Britain had won in 1927 and again in 1929. When the British Government, faced with economic depression, controversially withdrew their financial support of the team, Lady Houston came to the rescue with a private donation of £100,000 (£5 million in today's money). She wrote in a cable to Ramsay MacDonald "the supremacy of English airmen can only be upheld by their entrance for the Schneider Trophy and I consider this of supreme importance".

    On 13 September 1931 nearly half a million people gathered on the shores of the Solent to witness Britain's attempt to secure the trophy for the third and last time. Lady Houston watched aboard her yacht the "Liberty". Not only was the British Supermarine seaplane victorious but it also broke the world speed record.

    The lessons learned in building these racing seaplanes helped Reginald Mitchell to develop the Supermarine Spitfire used by the RAF and other allied countries during World War Two and it became the backbone of fighter command during the Battle of Britain.

    Lady Houston died on 26 December 1936, months after the Spitfire's first flight.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that import duty at 15% is payable on the hammer price.
Auction information

This sale is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future sales, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this sale, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £50,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 the Hammer Price
12% from £1,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

Payment in advance: by cash, check with banker's card, credit card, bank draft or traveler's cheque.

Payment at collection: by credit or debit card.

Credit card charges: a surcharge of 2% is applicable when using Mastercard, Visa and overseas debit cards.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Lot symbols
Ω Import high rate

VAT on imported items at the prevailing rate on Hammer Price and Buyer's Premium.

Similar Items