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22nd Nov 2017
Victorian autograph fan pre sale estimate 1200 1400

A rare fan which could have belonged to Queen Victoria’s daughter, and which is autographed by a panoply of 19th century celebrities, is to go under the hammer in Norfolk this month.

Keys Fine Art Auctioneers in Aylsham will be selling the fan as part of its three day Fine Sale which runs from Tuesday 28th November to Thursday 30th November.  The fan has a pre-sale estimate of £1,200-£1,500.

It is possible that the fan belonged to Princess Helena, who was born in 1846 and was the third daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  It is adorned with numerous signatures, including those of author Henry James, composer Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame), and Norwich-born painter George Broughton, who was a major influence on Van Gogh.

Other autographs on the fan include Little Lord Fauntleroy author Frances H Burnett; Viscount Joseph Garnet Wolseley (commander in chief of the Army, after whom the Norwich pub is named); painter Edward J Poynter; and writer Edward Frederic Benson (author of the ‘Mapp and Lucia’ novels).

In total there are 21 signatures on the fan, including that of Princess Helena herself.

“This is an extraordinary piece of Victorian celebrity memorabilia,” said Nigel Ducker, associate director at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers.  “Not only does it have the royal connection, but it is a remarkable record of many of the most famous names of the day.

“We tend to think that our celebrity culture is something new, but this fan shows that there was a cachet to being linked with famous people as long ago as the 19th century.

“We are already seeing considerable interest in the fan, and expect bidding to be brisk when it goes under the hammer on the third day of our Fine Sale, on Thursday 30th November.”

The Keys Fine Art Auctioneers three day Fine Sale takes place from Tuesday 28th November to Thursday 30th November at Keys’ salerooms in Aylsham, and online at www.the-saleroom.com.  More details and the sale catalogue are available at www.keysauctions.co.uk.

Princess Helena

Born at Buckingham Palace in 1846, Princess Helena was the third daughter and fifth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

After a flirtation with Prince Albert’s German librarian after her father’s death in 1860, she eventually married the impoverished German Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, although the couple remained living in Britain, with Helena acting as secretary to Victoria alongside her sister Princess Beatrice.

Helena was involved in a number of charities, and was one of the founding members of the British Red Cross, as well as being president of the Royal British Nurses Association.  Her marriage lasted over 50 years, and she died in 1923.