Possessions of Wallis Simpson up for auction in Lichfield

Personal possessions of Wallis Simpson, whose marriage caused one of the biggest scandals in the 20th Century, are being auctioned in Lichfield.

Edward Vlll and Wallis Simpson
Edward Vlll and Wallis Simpson

Earrings, belts and stationery found in the duchess’ estate after she died in 1986 go under the hammer with Richard Winterton Auctioneers at the Lichfield Auction Centre on Tuesday, July 19.

A twice-divorced American, the romance of Mrs Simpson and King Edward VII caused a constitutional crisis leading to Edward’s abdication in December 1936 less than a year after becoming king.

Going under the hammer in Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ Fine Art Sale on July 19 are a pair of Bergere gold-plated clip on earrings, in a red and gilt case with an interlinked WE, for Wallis and Edward, below a coronet; five fabric and suede belts, in a variety of styles and colours; and a parcel of unused stationery.

The latter comprises a blank invitation card with matching envelope, pre-printed with 'The Duchess of Windsor requests the pleasure of the company of...’ and letterheaded paper embossed with the duchess’ coat of arms and the address of the Paris house they lived in from 1952 until their deaths.

The items were all auctioned off after the duchess’ death in 1986, with these coming to sale again in the late 1990s when they were bought by the vendor, a collector from Staffordshire.

Sarah Williams, senior valuer at Richard Winterton Auctioneers, said: "It was so interesting to have my hands on these items which were personal possessions of one of the mid-20th century’s most recognisable figures.

"The stationery which bears the address where Wallis Simpson died tells its own story of a life of grandeur even in those latter days. The duchess wore fairly plain A-line dresses a lot of the time and would jazz the ensemble up with a decorative belt.

“The collection as a whole may not fetch much more than £200 but in terms of living history these are fascinating items which hopefully well go on to delight other collectors of royal memorabilia.”

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor lived a celebrity high society life between Europe and America although many never forgive them for famously visited Hitler in Germany in 1937.

Following the duke's death from throat cancer in 1972, Wallis became increasingly frail and lived out her final years as a recluse, supported her husband's estate and an allowance from the Queen.

She suffered several falls, broke her hip twice and, in 1980, lost the power of speech.

Bedridden towards the end, she received no visitors apart from medical care and died aged 89 on April 24 1986 at that address in Paris.

The duchess’ effects feature as Lots 136 to 138 in the auction on Tuesday, July 19.

The Fine Art Sale also features luxury watches including Rolex and Omega, jewellery, ceramics, glass, paintings and Mouseman furniture.

Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ Fine Art Sale at The Lichfield Auction Centre, Wood End Lane, Fradley Park, on Monday, July 18 from 10am to 4pm, call 01543 251081 to book.

For auction information and valuation enquiries, also email office@richardwinterton.co.uk and visit www.richardwinterton.co.uk.

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