The pig purse
The pig purse

An eccentric pig-shaped diamond and ruby evening bag has sold for more than £109,000 at auction.

The unusual purse – which went for 44 times more than expected – formed part of a huge sale of glittering jewellery and antique heirlooms which belonged to the late Countess Mountbatten of Burma

The high society treasures fetched a total of over £5.6 million at Sotheby’s on Wednesday.

Patricia Knatchbull, the 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma, who died in 2017, was a first cousin of the Duke of Edinburgh a great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and a great niece of Russia’s last Tsarina.

She was the daughter of Earl Mountbatten – the last Viceroy of India – who was murdered by the IRA in 1979, and his wife Edwina.

Among the 385 lots was the Banks diamond brooch which sold for £138,600.

The piece – which originally belonged to the explorer and botanist Joseph Banks – is set with a cushion-shaped yellow diamond, and was estimated to fetch up to £60,000.

The historic jewel was passed down through the Knatchbull Baronets.

The Lacloche Freres ruby and diamond evening mesh bag in the shape of a pig sold for £109,620 – 44 times its estimate of between £2,000 and £3,000.

The unusual purse features eyes set with cabochon rubies, a tail and trotters made of rose-cut diamonds and a spine of cushion-shaped diamonds.

Prince of Wales plaque Mountbatten

It belonged to the Countess’s mother Edwina, the 1st Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

The Mountbatten family loved animals and had a menagerie of pets wherever they lived, including a horse gifted to Edwina and Louis Mountbatten by the Maharajah of Jaipur for their wedding, and a lion cub that Edwina brought home from South Africa when Patricia was 13.

Sotheby’s said 1,400 bidders registered from 55 countries for the auction.

Queen Victoria’s mourning jewels – a button, brooch and two pendants – some containing locks of hair sold for a combined total of £100,800.

The items were said to have brought solace to Victoria following the death of her mother and three of her nine children.

They included a banded agate and diamond pendant commissioned by Prince Albert in 1861 with a miniature photograph of the Duchess of Kent and a lock of hair which sold for £32,760.

A customised 1967 Jaguar 420 which belonged to Lord Mountbatten went for £126,000.

The car was painted in the Mountbatten Blue colours of his Viceroy livery and was one of the last cars driven by the earl.

Mountbatten\u2019s custom jaguar auction

A pair of jewelled and enamelled gold elephants found a new home for £34,020.

Inscribed in Lord Mountbatten’s handwriting with ‘Edwina from Dickie’ and ‘18 July 1946’, the elephants made in Jaipur were a gift from Lord Mountbatten to Edwina for their 24th wedding anniversary.

2nd Countess Mountbatten auction \u2013 Sotheby\u2019s

An Art Deco “Tutti Frutti” inspired gem set and diamond necklace with rubies, emeralds and sapphires sold for £107,100.

A Faberge timepiece bought by the last Tsarina of Russia for 200 roubles, as a gift for the parents of Louis Mountbatten in 1897, sold for £81,900 – four times its estimate.

The total raised by the London auction – which lasted 10-and-a-half hours – was £5,620,798.

David Macdonald, Sotheby’s specialist and head of the sale, said: “An auction like today, with its heady mix of history and glamour, does not come up very often, and so it has been a truly special experience to be a part of.”

All prices include buyer’s premium.

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