Each is engraved to the reverse with the words A Chip of Cleopatra’s Needle – an encapsulation of Victorian excitement surrounding the arrival of the ancient Egyptian obelisk now located on the Thames Embankment in London.
The Sultan of Egypt and Sudan, Muhammad Ali Pasha, had presented the obelisk to Great Britain in recognition of the victories over the French in Egypt by Lord Nelson in the Battle of the Nile, 1798, and Sir Ralph Abercromby in the Battle of Alexandria, 1801.
However, it was not an easy task to get the gift to England. It was not until September 1878, nearly 60 years after it was presented, that the obelisk had a new home.
The saga was followed closely in the press by the British public and many souvenirs were created at the time, including this pair of dress studs offered by Fellows (25% buyer’s premium) in Birmingham on February 9.
They were estimated at £200-300 but pushed on to bring £580.