Own a piece of Pompeii - rare Roman artefact from Italian city destroyed by volcano to be sold at auction

Posted on 25/07/2018 in Press Coverage

A rare relic from the Italian city of Pompeii – famously destroyed by a volcanic eruption 2000 years ago - is to be sold at auction.

A beautifully presented Roman casket fitting in the form of a lion’s head and made from solid bronze will be sold at an Antiquities, Ancient Art and Classic Coins Auction at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers on July 30-31, 2018. It has an estimate of £1,800-£2,500.

James Brenchley, head of the antiquities department at Hansons, said: “This rare item would have adorned the casket of a member of the high elite in Pompeii.

“Pompeii was a sophisticated city and this item showcases the style and beauty the Romans projected through their art and architecture. Despite being 2,000 years old, it’s in wonderful condition, near perfect.

“It has immense historical importance and excellent written provenance. It was once part of a private collection owned by Lord Cooper, of Yorkshire. It was discovered in Pompeii and returned to the UK in the mid-19th century. Later it became part of the private collection of Michael Green, from the Tiverton area of South Devon.

“He began building his collection in the 1980s amassing many stunning pieces of ancient art, antiquity and coins until 2012, all legally acquired from auctions and private collections.

“This item, which will be sold with a certificate of authenticity, was probably one of a pair attached to a wooden chest. They would have been used as handles.

“It depicts a lion’s head. The chased detail clearly shows the eyes, ears, mouth and mane. You can see the remains of the three iron mounting studs which are still intact and would have fixed the piece to the chest.

“It’s understood that there is a parallel chest-fitting to this one in the National Museum of Naples in Italy, undoubtedly made in the same Roman workshop.

“Also, a similar item to this came up at an antiquities auction in New York several years ago and sold for more than $10,000.

Pompeii is a vast archaeological site in southern Italy’s Campania region, near the coast of the Bay of Naples. Once a thriving and sophisticated Roman city, it was buried under meters of ash and pumice after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

The Pompeii casket fitting, lot 263, will be sold at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire on Monday, July 30, as part of a two-day Antiquities, Ancient Art and Classic Coins Auction, which runs on July 30-31. To find out more, email [email protected]

You can browse the catalogue and bid in advance by clicking HERE.

You can also browse the catalogue and bid live during the auction by registering with - view the catalogue HERE.

Picture credits: Pompeii: By Mentnafunangann - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Casket fitting: Hansons Auctioneers