It has been a while since we last posted about unusual facts, surprising Lots and tall tales from the wonderful world of the auction room. So, we thought it was time we put the record straight and wrote up a few more auction oddities from the archives.
This really takes the biscuit…
In October 2015, some 103 years after the sinking of the Titanic, a cracker from one of its survival kits was sold at auction for £15,000. It came out of one of the survival kits stored on the lifeboats which transported people across to the SS Carpathia on that fateful night. The emergency snack was supplied by Spillers and Bakers, a Bristol-based biscuit manufacturer and was a standard part of the kit. Whether its subsequent longevity was a feature of the original recipe is not clear but, like the lifeboats themselves, it was clearly never intended to be used.
If you think it is crackers to bid for a 100-year-old biscuit, you’d have to be a serial nutcase to want to buy a single cornflake. Yes, that is right – a cornflake. When Emily and Melissa McIntire were getting ready to eat their breakfast one morning, they spotted that one of the golden flakes landing in their bowl happened to be shaped like Illinois. It was a fortuitous moment when one of the sisters stopped before flooding this miniature State with milk and suggested placing it on eBay. They must have laughed at the initial idea, but when the $878 cheque landed in their bank account, their levity must surely have turned to glee.
Hair today gone tomorrow…
It is an eerie fact, but true none-the-less that human hair lasts centuries after the original owner/grower has given up possession of it. And from time-to-time, a small crop of hair shows up at auction. So, if you happen to be a famous singer, film star, or other well-known celebrity, you might want to keep an eye on what gets swept up as you leave the hairdressers.
A case in point was Elvis Presley’s entrepreneurial barber who secretly gathered locks from the great man’s iconic quiff, and in 2002 sold them at auction for just over £90,000. How’s that for a tip?
Elvis is not alone in having his hair go posthumously under the hammer. Some of Jane Austen’s hair was fashioned into a brooch and fetched a novel price, while a presidential sum was once raised to purchase a few of JFK’s flowing locks at auction. And in April of this year (2019) a ring with a braid of Charlotte Brontë’s hair was featured on the BBC’s Antiques Road Show.
The final auction oddity for this particular post comes in the various shapes and sizes of meteorites. In 2009, Rob Elliott, the owner of the UK’s largest private collection of space memorabilia, decided to auction off part of his collection. The 170 pieces, including very rare meteorites, Moon rocks and Mars fragments, sold for £113,000 in total and he subsequently turned his hobby into a business.
Rob continues to hunt meteorites and sells them via his company The Robert Elliott Meteorite Collection, which has one of the coolest straplines ever written, “four-and-a-half billion years in the making.”