The archive offered yesterday (July 25) at the sale held in Farleigh Court Golf Club, Selsdon in Surrey, relates to Kate Evans, who was born in Wales in 1866. It had been estimated at £8000-10,000.
The price paid for the lot, which had been consigned for sale by family, was £48,640 including buyer’s premium.
Sioned Hughes, keeper of history and archaeology, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales - said: “This is an iconic collection for the history of the whole Suffragette movement in (what was at the time) Britain and Ireland.
“While we had suffragist collections in Wales, and an example of anti-Suffragette sentiment in Wales, until now we had very little in our collections relating to the Welsh Suffragettes themselves. This collection will be a valuable asset to Wales’ political and national history collections.”
This centenary year of women over 30 getting the vote in Britain has inspired a string of Suffragette lots coming to auction, all with fascinating individual stories that boost the value.
At least seven phone bidders had been in the running for the Evans archive on sale day.
After this house record, Southon said: “The interest in this lot was phenomenal with bidders, on the phone, from all over the world – I was absolutely staggered how people were competing to buy this fascinating collection and even more gob-smacked by the price it achieved.”
Southon's previous house record was £23,000 at her last sale, in May, for a 8.5ct diamond ring.
Behind bars for 54 days
Growing up, Evans was interested in politics and spent a considerable time in Paris. While there she met with people interested in the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and in her early 30s she joined the union and was an active member. She became a Suffragette to the dismay of her parents, who thought the behaviour of these women was quite shocking.
On March 4, 1912, she was arrested and imprisoned for 54 days in Holloway prison.
Included in the Southon lot was this silver ‘hunger strike’ medal and an archive of letters, books and ephemera relating to Evans. The medal is engraved Hunger Strike to the obverse and Kate Evans to the reverse, complete with the distinctive three coloured ribbons representing purple (dignity), green (hope) and white (purity), and two silver bars - one engraved March 4th 1912.
Only 100 of these medals are known to exist and this one is contained within original velvet lined presentation box with printed inscription to the silk lined lid, sold together with an accompanying letter from the WSPU stating that Miss Evans has been presented with a prison brooch.
Among the other items included is a Metropolitan Police arrest warrant issued to Evans on March 4, 1912, for ‘Malicious damage’, and Holloway Jingles, a collection of poems written by the Suffragettes contained within a pictorial printed outer green cover with images of the inside of the cells. Southon said that this is possibly a first edition and includes two poems by Evans titled Who? and The cleaners of Holloway.
Catherine Southon Auctioneers and Valuers was established in 2012. She has worked in the world of antiques for over 20 years, starting her career at Sotheby’s Bond Street.
Initially responsible for cataloguing sales in the collectors department, she soon became head of scientific instruments and maritime works of art. After working at Sotheby’s for eight years, she then became a freelance valuer before establishing her own auction house.
From 2003 onwards, she has made regular appearances as an expert and presenter on a number of BBC antiques programmes including Bargain Hunt, Flog it! and Antiques Road Trip.