Christie family trunk yields diamonds worth thousands
A battered old trunk bought for £100 at an Agatha Christie auction has revealed contents as mysterious as the woman to whom they once belonged.
Home & Antiques reader Jennifer Grant bought the trunk in September 2006 at the sale of the contents of Greenway, the author’s former home in Devon. The trunk contained a locked strongbox and the auctioneer had no knowledge of a key.
Jennifer says: ‘For a long time, I dreamt about what might be inside but I never really believed anything would be. It was my cousin Vera who finally convinced me to open it.'
Inside the box Jennifer found a black crocheted bag containing 35 gold sovereigns and 17 half sovereigns, a diamond mounted platinum ring and a diamond buckle-shaped brooch. Moreover, she discovered the initials ‘CMM’ engraved on the trunk were those of Agatha’s mother, Clara Margaret Miller.
When Jennifer then read in Agatha’s autobiography that her mother’s ‘valuable jewellery consisted of “my diamond buckle, my diamond crescent and my diamond engagement ring’”, she approached Homes & Antiques magazine’s Ask the Experts for advice and a valuation.
Jewellery specialist John Benjamin valued the treasures at over £12,500, even without taking the provenance into account.
'With the Christie family connection, who knows what they could go for? In all my years in this business, this is the most amazing story I have ever come across,' says John.
Agatha Christie’s grandson Mathew Prichard said the owner of the suitcase: ‘has been lucky and good luck to them. I suppose if those particular jewels came on the market I would be interested in buying.’
In the Sunday Telegraph, Laura Thompson, Christie's official biographer and the author of Agatha Christie: An English Mystery, described the discovery of the jewels as 'absolutely thrilling'.
She says: 'I wrote much of my book at Greenway, and it was glorious chaos, with things being turned up all the time that the family didn't know about.
'The whole family were hoarders who kept everything and there was a huge amount of material at Greenway that simply never got sorted, so it is highly possible that these are indeed Agatha's mother's jewels. In fact, it seems a bit rich if they are not.
'It is a poignant discovery, as Agatha's mother was the most important person in her life.'