Antique & Estate Jewelry

234-Year-Old Medallion Honoring King George III Heads to Auction


One piece in Christie’s upcoming Bayreuth: A Connoisseur’s Collection of English Silver and Gold Boxes auction stands out for its unique story: a gold and enamel medallion dating to 1789, when it was created in honor of King George III.

The 234-year-old memento, which will be offered in the 201-lot sale taking place July 7 as part of Christie’s Classic Week in London, has an estimate between £3,000 and £5,000, or around $3,830–$6,395.

King George III’s wife, Queen Charlotte, commissioned the medallion when the king recovered from illness (what was later diagnosed as porphyria) in March of 1789. The country celebrated his recovery, with Parliament issuing public addresses of congratulations to the king. The queen presented the inscribed medallion as a gift to the king’s near and dear friends who had supported the family while he was ill.

With diamonds, rubies, and emeralds on its crown, the piece has been slightly reinterpreted since—it’s now a locket holding locks of both Queen Charlotte‘s and King George’s hair. And it is not the only item connected to King George III included in the Christie’s auction; his personal toothpick holder in all gold (with estimate of £1,200–£1,800, or $1,535–$2,300) will also be up for sale, among many other exceptional pieces.

“It is a reflection of true connoisseurship in its most enriching form,” said Christie’s international head of silver, Harry Williams-Bulkeley, said in a statement about the Bayreuth sale. “It is evident that behind the collection there is an innate understanding of the imagination and the creative skill of the craftsman, and an erudite appreciation of its ownership, from celebrated collectors and great country houses including Chatsworth, Belvoir Castle, and Stowe House.”

Top: Pendant (circa 1789) in gold and enamel with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and locks of hair from Queen Charlotte and King George III, estimate £3,000–£5,000; Christie’s (Photos courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd. 2023)

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By: Annie Davidson Watson

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