Fan signed by Victorian royalty and celebrities will be auctioned in Norfolk

The autographed fan. Picture: Newman Associates PR.

The autographed fan. Picture: Newman Associates PR. - Credit: Newman Associates PR.

A fan adorned with the autographs of Victorian royalty and celebrities will go under the hammer in north Norfolk this month.

A portrait of Princess Helena by Franz Xaver Winterhalter.

A portrait of Princess Helena by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. - Credit: Archant

The fan is thought to have been owned by Princess Helena of England, daughter of Queen Victoria.

The fan is signed by the princess herself, as well as major historical figures such as author Henry James, composer Arthur Sullivan and Norwich-born painter George Broughton.

As well as this, Little Lord Fauntleroy author Frances H Burnett has leant her name to the item, as well as Viscount Joseph Garnet Wolseley who was the commander in chief of the Army at the time.

The 21 signatures also include scribes from painter Edward J Poynter and writer Edward Frederic Benson.


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Princess Helena was one of Queen Victoria's less prominent children, having married an impoverished German prince and working as her mother's secretary throughout her life.

However, this fan alludes to her status as somewhat of a royal figurehead, as Helena was very often active with royal events and engagements in her mother's absence.

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Helena was also a founder of the Red Cross, alongside her elder sister Alice.

The illustrious fan is up for auction with Keys Fine Art Auctioneers of Aylsham, and will be sold as part of a three day Fine Sale running from Tuesday, November 28 to Thursday, November 30.

The fan will be auctioned on the final day of the sale, and has a £1,200 to £1,500 pre-sale estimate.

'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.'

Mr Ducker added: '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 Thursday 30th November.'

To find out more about Keys, visit their website.

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