These are the fascinating signed handprints of famous names from the 1920s including Albert Einstein.
The incredible collection also includes actress and singer Marlene Deitrich, composers Richard Strauss and Igor Stravinsky and filmmaker Fritz Lang.
They were collected by German palmist Marianne Raschig who spent 60 years taking more than 2,000 handprints of around 1,000 leading artists, actors, scientists, musicians and writers in Berlin.
Leading lights: Marianne Raschig collected prints from famous names of her time including Albert Einstein and Marlene Dietrich
Arts and culture: Director Fritz Lange, left, was a founder of German Expressionist cinema while Igor Stravinksy was a famous composer
Raschig collected the handprints between the 1870s and 1930s for a study into what the lines and shapes of hands could reveal about a person's character.
Palm readers believe that every person's hands has a series of 'lines' and 'mounts' which reveal their personality traits and even predict their future.
Studies of Einstein's prints have suggested they show he was an independent thinker and possibly suffered from Asperger's Syndrome.
Researchers have suggested that people with that people with autism often have a 2D:4D ratio (the distance between the index finger and ring finger) of 0.94mm or less.
Einstein's is said to have been 0.93.
Each of the lifesized handprints is signed and dated by its subject, then stamped with a mark reading 'M. Raschig's Handarchiv.'
Raschig published her study in a 1933 book Hand und Persvnlichkeit (Hand and Personality) which is still used today.
The rare collection is tipped to fetch upwards of £90,000 when it goes under the hammer.
Einstein's handprints, featuring both hands, are expected to sell for £15,000 on their own.
A small collection of 52 handprints auctioned in New York in 2006 sold for £64,000.
The handprints are being sold by a member of Raschig's family who bought the collection 30 years ago.
Dr Simon Maguire, books and manuscripts expert at auctioneers Sotheby's, said: 'Marianne Raschig was a rather serious German lady who conducted a study of handprints in the early 1930s of the movers and shakers of culture in Berlin at the time.
'She spent around years collecting handprints from more than 1,000 people. She was interested in how the lines on people's hands revealed characteristics about them.
'It was a very significant and influential study, and one that is still being referred to now, 80 years on.
'Never before had there been such a comprehensive study of handprints conducted. Her subjects would put their inked hands onto paper and then sign and date the print.
Enlightening: Actress and singer Marlene Dietrich, left, and composer Richard Strauss, right, are included in the collection
'Einstein's prints showed very strong head and lifelines, and Raschig devoted several pages to her analysis of the great scientist.
'In some cases Raschig would outline the prints in pencil to show where parts of the hand had lifted off the paper.
'There has never been such a comprehensive collection of handprints at auction.'
The handprints will be auctioned at Sotheby's in London on June 5 and 6.
Pictures emerge of Field Marshal Montgomery visiting pivotal El Alamein battlefield 25 years after he defeated the Germans
Photographs of British war hero Field Marshal Montgomery returning to the scene of his greatest victory 25 years later have emerged for sale.
The candid images show Montgomery as an old man setting foot at El Alamein in Egypt to mark the anniversary of the Allies' first major triumph against Germans in World War Two.
The famous British general, affectionately known as Monty, led an army of more than 200,000 in 1942 and emerged victorious.
Historic trip: Field Marshal Montgomery, aged 80, climbs into a Wessex helicopter as he returns to El Alamein, in Egypt, in 1967, 25 years after the famous World War II battle
Famous return: Field Marshal Montgomery led an army of 200,000 in the battle in 1942. The pictures were taken by acclaimed war photographer Don McCullin
The victory marked a major turning point of the war as it revived moral in the flagging troops.
In 1967 Montgomery, then aged 80, returned to the desert to visit the scene of the Battle of El Alamein and pay his respects to the thousands of men who died.
His trip was covered in a magazine article at the time and appeared in a book about the battle.
Decorated: Field Marshal Montgomery, who died in 1980
A selection of the photos of him taken by acclaimed war photographer Don McCullin have surfaced 46 years after the moving visit.
The images portray Montgomery as an elderly man meeting the top brass of the Egyptian Army while surrounded by a scrum of photographers.
He is also seen having to be helped into a Wessex helicopter.
The photos are part of an archive belonging to the late journalist Derek Jewell, organiser of the Alamein trip, which also includes a series of letters from the war general and a signed copy of his memoirs.
In the correspondence, Montgomery thanks Jewell for organising the trip, stating 'the way you carried out the preliminary reconnaissance, and then organised and controlled the actual visit, was beyond all praise'.
A personal note to Jewell in the front of Montgomery's memoirs said he was 'a chief of staff par excellence under such conditions' and is signed 'Montgomery of Alamein'.
The collection was passed down through Jewell's family following his death in 1985. It is expected to fetch £8,000 when it goes under the hammer at auction tomorrow.
John Black, of auctioneers Sworders of Essex, said: 'To mark the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Alamein, Derek Jewell organised for Field Marshal Montgomery to return to the site of the battle.
'It was no mean feat - by that point Monty was a frail old man. He was incredibly stubborn and he always liked to have his own way.
BATTLE OF EL ALAMEIN: TURNING POINT IN WORLD WAR II
Battle: An explosion at El Alamein whiche ended in the victory of the British Eighth Army commanded by Montgomery over Rommel's Afrika Korps. It proved to be the turning point in the war in Africa
The Battle of El Alamein was widely hailed as one of the turning points in the Second World War.
More than 4,000 Allied servicemen lost their lives and almost 9,000 were wounded in the combat that saw General Sir Bernard Montgomery's troops defeat German general Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps.
Under the command of Montgomery, nearly 200,000 British, Australian, New Zealand, South African, British Indian, Free French and Greek forces defeated the Axis powers.
At the time of the battle, which began on October 23, 1942 and ended on November 4, the Allies were fighting to keep their vital supply lines open from the Mediterranean to the East.
Rommel had inflicted heavy defeats on Allied forces in Africa, forcing them back to the village of El Alamein, about 60 miles west of Alexandria.
Finally, on October 23 General Montgomery ordered a counter-attack with almost 900 guns levelled at the German positions to be discharged at once.
While previously the Suez Canal was threatened, and with it Allied access to the rich oilfields of the Middle East, now the Allies were able to press their advantage and eventually push the Germans and Italians out of Africa.
Recalling the importance of the Allied victory at the Battle of El Alamein, Sir Winston Churchill said: 'Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat.'
The Battle of Stalingrad between the Germans and the Soviets in 1942-43, and the Battle of Midway between the US and Japan, are also regarded as key turning points in the war.
Famous British General: Field Marshal Montgomery shakes hands with Winston Churchill in London after the war
Poignant return: The candid images show Montgomery as an old man setting foot at El Alamein in Egypt to mark the anniversary of the Allies' first major triumph against Germans in World War Two
Emotional return: FM Montgomery (left) with Derek Jewell in El Alamein in 1967
War hero: A signed picture of Field Marshal Montgomery which is set to go under the hammer at auction
Elderly: Field Marshal Montgomery is helped into his helicopter after returning to the scene of his greatest victory at the age of 80
Handwritten note: This hand written two-page note was produced by Field Marshal Montgomery to coincide with his 1967 trip back to the battlefield. It is part of the consignment of pictures and documents which are being auctioned tomorrow. The whole lot is expected to fetch £8,000
Note: FM Montgomery's leter to Derek Jewell about his visit back to the battlefield
Under the hammer: Another letter written by FM Montgomery in 1967 about his visit back to the site where the battle was fought
'But he and Jewell got on incredibly well and the trip to Alamein started a very dear friendship between them.
'War photographer Don McCullin was the photographer assigned to capture the visit on camera.
'The photos that came out of the trip are quiet poignant. After they returned, Monty wrote a lovely letter to Derek thanking him for organising the trip.
'This collection provides a moving snapshot of one of Britain's best loved war heroes.'
After El Alamein, Montgomery went on to help mastermind the D-Day invasion in Normandy in June 1944. He died in March 1976 in Alton, Hants, aged 88.
Bloody battle: British soldiers in action at El Alamein, in Egypt, in 1942. The famous British victory was a major turning point in World War II
Confrontation: A German Panzer III crewman lifts his hands in surrender to an advancing British soldier during the battle of El Alamein
War planning: The Allied Supreme Command in Conference during the war. Pictured, left to right, is Air Chief Marshall Tedder, General Eisenhower and Field Marshall Montgomery
Modern memorial: British solders stand guard near wreaths in October 2002 in the El-Alamein cemetery as they marked the 60th anniversary
A football fan is set to make £20,000 after finding two copies of the 'Holy Grail' of Manchester United programmes in his attic.
Keith Hames, from Hyde near Manchester, uncovered a pair of mint condition 'United Review' programmes for the game against Wolves postponed in the wake of the 1958 Munich Air Disaster.
All but a handful of copies of the 12-page programme for the First Division fixture at Old Trafford were pulped as news of the tragic events in Germany rocked the football world.
It is therefore among the rarest of United programmes - with pristine copies commanding as much as £10,000 at auction.
The Wolves match was scheduled for February 8, 1958, two days after the crash which killed eight of the 'Busby Babes' and left Matt Busby fighting for his life.
United had stopped to refuel at Munich airport en route back from Belgrade, where a 3-3 draw with Red Star has seen them through into the semi-finals of the European Cup.
Mr Hames, a United fan, told Sportsmail: 'My Dad used to work at the printing press where the United programme was produced and he would usually take a couple of copies home to make sure the pages had printed properly and to read them.
'This programme would have been printed as the team were returning from Belgrade and it includes a small paragraph on the game.
'I knew I had these programmes in my attic but had no idea of their worth until me and a few mates got talking about them.
'I looked to see if this particular one was in there and quite near the top of the pile were two copies.
'I was surprised to see how much they can fetch and I've already had some offers from United collectors.'
Mr Hames intends to put the pair up for auction - in 2011, one edition of the programme in decent condition fetched £7,000.
At the time, Robert Adcock, of auctioneers Sporting Memorys said: 'This programme is incredibly rare because only a handful of them made it out of the printing works.
'There is a big market for old football programmes, especially in the Far East, and this one must be the Holy Grail of them.
'It is the iconic programme that all serious collectors want to get their hands on.
'Nobody knows how many of them were printed but however many there were they were ordered to be destroyed, but some staff at the printers took the odd one home.'
Inside the programme there is a short write-up of the result in Belgrade.
It reads: 'In the capacity-packed football stadium in Belgrade, 55,000 spectators watched United draw with Red Stars by 3 goals apiece.
'United now proceed to the third round quarter finals for which pairings will be drawn within the next few days. Well done United!'
In fact, the Belgrade tie had been the quarter-final and United had advanced into the semi-finals.
Eerily, four of the advertised starting line-up in the programme - Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Mark Jones and Tommy Taylor - died in the crash.
A fifth, Duncan Edwards, died 15 days later in hospital from his injuries. In all, 23 people, including journalists, United staff and cabin crew, died when the plane overshot the runway in heavy snow and crashed into a house.
Mr Hames also has two copies of the programme from United's first match after the disaster - an FA Cup fifth round tie with Sheffield Wednesday - and these are valued at around £100 each.
The United teamsheet was left blank because nobody knew in advance who would play.
The programme for the match with Red Star is another collector's item - since few United fans would have travelled to the game, a copy can fetch as much as £2,000.
Source : Daily Mail
Former Vogue editor auctions contents of Lake Como villa, with antique sculptures, paintings and artefacts expected to fetch £360k
An exquisite private collection of antique paintings, sculptures and furniture owned by one of Europe's most accomplished former fashion editors is set to go under the hammer.
La Rosa di Montevecchia: An Italian Villa comprises over 200 lots found in the collector's Lake Como home, all reflecting her passion for the natural world, and expects to fetch over £360,000 in total.
As the voice of luxury fashion magazines including Harper's Bazaar Italy, Vogue Italy and Vogue France, the unnamed former editor had an eye for design and a talent for mixing different periods and styles, and items on offer range from £500 to £25,000.
The sale includes a selection of items that demonstrate the collector's affinity with wildlife and flowers.
Among the highlights are two 18th Century carved wood lambs, estimated to fetch between £1,000 and £1,500, and a pair of 19th Century carved wood lions, expected to sell for a price between £1,000 and £1,500.
There is also an oil painting of Orpheus charming the animals by a follower of Jacob Bouttats, estimated between £5,000 and £8,000.
Plus a pair of late 17th to early 18th Century paintings by Angelo Maria Crivelli of turkeys and landscape and storks in a landscape, estimated between £6,000 and £8,000 for the pair.
In addition to antique sculpture and paintings, the sale includes a selection of highly decorated Maiolica ceramics, which auctioneers Christie's, the house conducting the sale, expect to fetch £800 to £1,200.
As former editor of Harper's Bazaar Italy, Vogue Italy and Vogue France, the collector had an eye for design and a talent for mixing different periods and styles
Painting capturing nature and the wider world such as these are expected to fetch around £8,000 each
A pair of late 17th to early 18th Century paintings by Angelo Maria Crivelli of turkeys in a landscape and storks in a landscape, estimated between £6,000 and £8,000 for the pair
Among more unusual items is a French birdcage from the late 19th to early 20th Century (estimate: £700-£1,000).
Located between the bustling city of Milan and the rolling countryside around Lake Como, the majestic 18th Century villa that housed the items is set within a spectacular garden, brimming with over 300 species of rare, near-extinct roses.
For many years a tranquil haven for an elegant businesswoman, the villa witnessed a more turbulent past.
It was once owned by an English noblewoman who was heavily involved in the 'Risorgimento', the unification struggle of the 1860s.
The auction takes place on 1 July at Christie's in South Kensington, London.
Own a piece of Abbey Road (without having to nick it) as hundreds of famous London street signs go under the hammer
If famous road signs are right up your street, this auction is for you.
Signs for streets including Abbey Road and Downing Street are going under the hammer as part of a sell-off of old signage by Westminster City Council and Transport for London.
The two authorities are upgrading signposting in the capital as part of the Legible London campaign.
Estimates range from £20 to more than £1,000 for each of the 362 signs, which also include those which have directed tourists to Madame Tussauds, the Royal Academy of Arts and the London Aquarium.
The sale is set to take place on May 21 at at Summers Place Auctions in Billingshurst, West Sussex.
Dozens of road signs are stolen every year, with famous of funny streets repeatedly targeted by trophy hunters.
The Welsh village of Llanddewi-Brefi had its sign stolen numerous times after the name featured in a Little Britain sketch and the city council had to start mounting the Abbey Road sign on buildings to stop it being taken.
Robert Davis, deputy leader of the Tory-run council, said: 'London is home to some of the most famous street signs in the world and buyers now have the chance to acquire a genuine piece of the capital's history.
'More than 15 million visitors came to London last year and they were greeted and guided to historic locations by signs like these.'
The sale of the signposts, which were installed during the 1990s, has been described by auctioneers as an 'absolute one-off'.
More than 360 old black finger signs were also on sale as part of the Legible London campaign
James Rylands, director of Summers Place Auctions, said: 'This is a rare opportunity to pick up a real piece of London's history.
'Estimates range from £20 to over £1,000 and buyers can buy a single sign to use as a signature piece displayed indoors or purchase a number of signs and display them on a post, just as they would have been seen in the capital.'
He added: 'If you imagine you travelled on the train, commuting for 40 years, this is your chance to pick up a sign for perhaps Victoria Station, that you know so well.
'I honestly think it will be huge. We have had a lot of interest already. Last year London had more than 15 million visitors.
'Obviously the big attractions were the Jubilee, the Olympics and the Paralympics. There are lots of visitors from overseas who want a souvenir of their time in London.'
The sale of the signposts, which were installed during the 1990s, has been described by auctioneers as an 'absolute one-off'
Source: Daily Mail
An historic Chinese vase made for an 18th century emperor has sold at auction for £50,000 - but could have been worth ten times that value had a previous owner not drilled a hole in the bottom to turn it into a lamp.
The centuries-old vase was made for the Chinese Emperor Qianlong, but its hugely important seal of authentication was destroyed when a two centimetre hole was drilled in its bottom to feed an electrical cable through.
The former owner of the antique even customised it with fittings and a garish lampshade, giving it pride of place in his hallway.
Cut price: Auctioneer Amy Brenan, left, carefully holds the £50,000 vase, right, that could have sold for up to £500,000
But experts believe that if he hadn't have drilled the hole, then the 15 inch tall vase may have sold for up to £500,000.
The vase sold instead for £47,800 when it was sold at Duke's Auctioneers of Dorchester, Dorset.
The bottle vase dates from the 18th century is likely to have been made for the Imperial household.
A relative of the unnamed owner bought it off a London-based dealers at the turn of the 20th century and converted it into a lamp years later.
It was inherited by the last owner who has kept it ever since at his home on the Isle of Wight.
Andrew Mulborough, a specialist in Asian art at Duke's, said he was invited to the property to inspect other antiques when he saw the vase out of the corner of his eye.
He said: 'It was on a floor-standing cabinet in the hallway. I initially thought that it couldn't be original and asked the owner if I could have a closer look.
'As soon as I touched it I knew it was a fabulous piece of Chinese porcelain.
'I was hoping to find an Imperial mark on the bottom of it but tragically there was a hole from where the mark would have been.
'My heart did sink and the joy of finding the vase was equalled to my disappointment.
'Given the sheer quality of the workmanship on the vase, which was top notch, it is highly likely there would have been an Imperial reign mark on it.
'These marks tell you during which reign it was made and also that it was made for the Imperial household.
'The owner told me it wasn't him who made the drill hole. He was a little disappointed but just said that was the way it was.
'I brought it back to Dorchester and very carefully removed the lamp fittings around the top of it.'
The bottle vase was decorated with buddhistic lions in underglaze blue and red, a technically difficult process.
Guy Schwinge, a partner at Duke's, added: 'The irony is that if the vase had not been drilled and turned into a lamp base, it could easily have fetched £100,000.
'If the Imperial reign mark was still intact, the vase would have sold for more than £500,000.'
Ceramics from the Quinlong period are highly-sought after, especially among the newly rich Chinese who are buying back their lost heritage.
In 2010, a pair of Qianlong vases which were given to a couple as a wedding gift and kept on a bedroom shelf as ornaments fetched £500,000 at the same auction house.
Later the same year a blue and white dragon vase from the same era, valued at just £10,000, sold for almost £5million at an auction in San Francisco.
Earlier this year, another vase which was valued at £10,000 to £15,000 sold for almost £1million in Leyburn North Yorkshire.
A pair of Gandhi’s sandals from the 1920s that were given by the great holy man to a friend are expected to fetch more than £15,000 at UK auction Mullock's in Shropshire.
This iconic footwear has a half-inch heel, which would have boosted the diminutive peace activist's 5ft 4inch frame.
The size eight sandals, said to be worth £15,000, form part of a £250,000 archive of material relating to the Indian hero that is being sold.
Other lots include a shawl, hand-woven by thread that Gandhi spun himself, his bedsheet, prayer beads and photographs.
There are also three of Gandhi’s delicately carved miniature figures depicting the wise monkeys; speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil.
Gandhi gave many of the items to a close friend in 1924 when he was living at Palm Bun at Juhu in Maharashtra, India. They have been passed down the friend's family over the years who have now decided to sell the collection.
Richard Westwood-Brookes, the expert from Mullock’s, said: 'There is a huge collection of Gandhi material in the sale.
'It includes his leather sandals which really are iconic and were given to a friend in 1924.
'They are not in the best condition, but that doesn’t really matter to serious collectors.
'We have grown a reputation for selling items of Indian origin in recent years, and buyers come from around the world.
'Items that belonged to Gandhi are accorded great significance and status by many people in India and beyond.
'They are treated often has holy relics and the market is growing, particularly in the US, as well as in India.
'Other items in the sale in include many photographs and even his prayer beads.
'Among the photographs is one showing him in a smart suit and carrying a hat from when he worked in the legal profession - as far removed from his usual image as it is possible to get.'
Not only are the sandals part of the famous image of the Gandhi, along with his spectacles and loin cloth, but they have spawned a phrase.
‘Gandhi’s flip-flop’ entered the lexicon to describe a dry mouth the night after drinking heavily.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi - known as Mahatma Gandhi - was the leader of Indian nationalism and was famous for using non-violent civil disobedience.
He lived modestly and wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, woven with yarn he had hand spun on a charkha.
Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 by Nathuram Godse who thought he was too sympathetic to India’s Muslims.
The auction takes place on May 21, with the catalogue viewable on UKauctioneers.com
SOURCE: MAIL ONLINE
With her mouse-brown curls and shy grin, the pretty girl in the seventh row of the black and white school photo bears little resemblance to the pouting blonde bombshell she would become.
But she does have a glint in her eye that suggests she knew she was heading for greater things.
In 1941, when the class photograph was taken, the future Marilyn Monroe was Norma Jeane Baker; just another pupil at Ralph Wardo Emerson Junior High School in Los Angeles.
The photograph, which is to be auctioned next month, bears an inscription on the back by the then 15-year-old Norma Jeane, dedicating it to a classmate of hers named George, a friend she describes as a 'super swell fellow'.
On the back of the 24-inch print the future film star wrote: 'To "Georgie". A super, swell fellow, in fact really keen! (I really mean it Geo.) Norma Jeane Baker.'
The black and white photo, which is now being sold by a private collector, is expected to sell for $9,000 (£5,900) when it is auctioned by Bonhams in Los Angeles on May 5.
It was taken in the summer of 1941, a year before Monroe married her neighbour's son, Jim Dougherty, in a bid to avoid having to go into care when her guardians moved away.
She signed with 20th Century Fox in 1945, Columbia Pictures in 1948, and by 1952 was being described by Life magazine as 'the talk of Hollywood'.
The 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, featuring her famous rendition of Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend, cemented Marilyn Monroe's celebrity, and smash hit soon followed smash hit.
Lucy Carr, a specialist in entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams, said: 'Marilyn had a famously difficult childhood and the period this photograph captures, when she was living with family friend Ana Lower, was one of the few times of stability and relative happiness in her early life.
'Her childlike appearance in this photograph is quite different than the platinum blonde bombshell image she would become known for.
'Photographs signed by Marilyn as Norma Jeane Baker are quite rare and sought after by collectors, and only a few other signed examples of this Junior High School class photograph have ever come to auction.'
She added: 'A variety of collectors are interested in Marilyn Monroe. Her appeal continues to grow and truly spans the globe.
'In the past, we have received bids on Marilyn Monroe memorabilia from clients in the US, Europe and Asia, as well as South America and the Middle East.'
Marilyn Monroe, as she became early on in her career, became a sought-after actress and appeared in hits including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Some Like It Hot
Source: Daily Mail
A Noah's Ark of 18th century porcelain creatures said to be the most significant in the world has emerged - and is tipped to sell for up to £2million.
The magnificent menagerie features more than 140 ornate animals and birds, many of which come in matching pairs, made by famous German porcelain pioneers Meissen.
The pieces were hand-crafted in the 1730s and 1740s by Johann Kandler, who at the time was court sculptor to Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland.
Highlights include a 19-inch snuff-sniffing porcelain monkey worth £400,000 and a 17-inch pair of guinea fowl valued at £200,000, both commissioned in 1732 for the King of Poland's Japanese Palace in Dresden, Germany.
Other pristine pairs include parrots, bitterns, lions, cats and ducks - and all items bear the famous Meissen crossed swords logo.
The rare artefacts are from the private collection of British aristocrats Sir Gawaine and Lady Baillie, amassed at their West Sussex home.
Sir Gawaine, a racing driver in the 1950s and 1960s, inherited the beginnings of the collection from his Anglo-American heiress mother, Lady Baillie, who had started collecting Meissen ornaments at her home at Leeds Castle in Kent in the 1930s.
Experts have described the Meissen collection as the most significant to ever appear at auction and expect it to sell for up to £2million.
The collection was amassed by British aristocrats Sir Gawaine and Lady Baillie at their West Sussex home. Pictured are two £60,000 bitterns (left) and a porcelain monkey (right) is expected to sell for £400,000
Alice Bleuzen, ceramics expert at auctioneers Sotheby's, said: 'This is the most extensive collection of Meissen animals and birds ever seen.
'Each item is of the highest quality and 95 per cent of them are 18th century originals rather than 19th century reproductions.
'Porcelain is not easy to work with but Johann Kandler was a master and this is why Meissen sculptures became famous, luxury products.
'The auction represents a wonderful opportunity for collectors.
'There is something here for everyone with items ranging from a miniature hare valued at £400 to the almost life-size monkey sculpture at £400,000.
'Never before have Meissen items of such rarity appeared at auction.'
Craftsmanship: Up for auction is the biggest collection of Meissen animals ever. Pictured left are pied wagtails worth £20,000 and, right, two £40,000 parrots
A rare deep-blue diamond ring worth up to £1.5million could make history when it goes on sale.
The ‘fancy’ diamond - which will go under the hammer later this month - weighs 5.30 carats and is set in a Trombino ring made by renowned Italian jeweller Bulgari, who is favoured by Hollywood film stars.
The term ‘fancy’ is used to describe a diamond of intense colour, and the colour ‘fancy deep-blue’ is one of the rarest in the world.
The cushion-shaped diamond is set within a mount of brilliant-cut and baguette-cut diamonds. Blue diamonds are structurally very pure and account for less than 1 per cent of all diamonds mined.
The ring is thought to have been made in 1965 and is estimated to fetch up to £1.5million at Bonhams Fine Jewellery sale in Mayfair, central London, on April 24 at 2pm.
The world-record price for a fancy deep-blue diamond is £686,000 per carat but, according to staff at Bonhams, the Bulgari ring has the potential to break this.
Jean Ghika, director of the jewellery department, said: ‘There have only been 30 diamonds of this size and colour that have come up for sale globally over the last 10 years, which is a fraction of the percentage of white diamonds that have been sold during the same period of time.
'There are a number of people who are interested in this kind of stone because they don't come on the market very often'
Jean Ghika, Bonhams jewellery director
‘There are a number of people who are interested in this kind of stone because they don't come on the market very often. It attracts connoisseurs, collectors and people who just simply want to wear it because it's a wonderful stone.’
In September 2011 Bonhams sold a fancy vivid-blue diamond ring by Bulgari for £1.9million.
The ring, set with two pear-shaped diamonds, more than doubled the pre-sale estimate - which is why experts predict the Trombino Bulgari ring will produce another record-breaking sale.