A watch awash with football pedigree and stunning Victorian jewellery have just been discovered at our Derbyshire saleroom – and I’m feeling rather dazzled by diamonds and golden time pieces, writes Charles Hanson.
Every week we hold free jewellery and watch valuations at our Etwall HQ and, every week, something amazing walks through our door.
First to arrive was a late Victorian, gold, diamond and natural pearl pendant necklace. As well as being a beautiful in its own right it demonstrates the ingenuity of the Victorians.
It’s the century-old equivalent of buy-one-get-two-free. That’s because it can be used in three different ways. The exquisite diamond and natural pearl pendant is detachable and turns into a brooch.
In addition, if you remove the pendant, the gold and seed pearl chain can be worn as a necklace with the pearl and diamond fastener as centrepiece. It will go into our Summer Fine Art Jewellery sale with an estimate of £2,500-£3,000.
On the same day, a gorgeous, circa 1900, Victorian diamond ring with a ¾ carat diamond at its centre arrived. That could be yours for its guide price of £600.
Next to walk through the door was a gold watch that made jaws hit the floor thanks to its sporting pedigree. This 115-year-old timepiece tells an extraordinary tale.
It was left to Leicestershire man Simon Stevenson, 57 when he was six, which means it’s been tucked away in a drawer for 51 years.
However, it’s no ordinary watch. It was given to a Manchester football legend in 1904 and is expected to spark interest around the world. And yet, but for a jeweller’s cleaning cloth, its importance may never have been discovered.
When Simon became a teenager his mother, Sheila Stevenson, now 87, took the timepiece to a jeweller’s to be cleaned in case her son wanted to use it. When the gleam of its gold was restored, an inscription was uncovered: ‘Presented to W. Meredith, Manchester City FC, to commemorate winning the English Cup (FA Cup), 1903-1904’.
However, both Sheila and Simon are Leicester Tigers rugby fans, don’t follow football and didn’t fully grasp its significance. Consequently, the watch remained in a drawer for decades.
Billy Meredith was a football legend who player for both Manchester City and Manchester United. He’s been described as a superstar of his day, an old-school Cristiano Ronaldo. He played until he was 47 and his gimmick was to chew on a toothpick during games.
As if that wasn’t enough, he scored the winning goal and captained the Sky Blues when they beat Bolton Wanderers 1-0 at Crystal Palace in the 1904 FA Cup final. It was the club’s first major honour. It seemed a strange coincidence that it arrived at our door a few days before Manchester City’s FA Cup final match (May 18). It will enter Hansons’ August 22 Football in Focus sale with an estimate of £2,000-£4,000.
The watch was left to Simon by his great grandfather Jack Reid. Mrs Stevenson simply thought it was a nice gold watch. Fast forward to more recent times and a visitor – a Manchester United fan -dropped by. I gather his reaction was priceless when he saw the inscription on the watch. Intrigued, the Stevensons did their research and discovered what an important player Meredith was.
They are not related to Meredith but think the watch came into their family through friendship. Jack Reid’s wife was a Cowan and a Samuel Cowan signed for Manchester City in 1924 and later managed them in 1946. Jack’s daughter, Catherine, said the watch had been given to her father by his best friend.
Meredith was born in Chirk, Denbighshire, Wales, in 1874 and started his playing career at Chirk. He went on to play for Northwich Victoria, Manchester City and Manchester United and gained 48 caps for Wales. He died in Manchester in 1958 at the age of 83. In 2007 he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.
So, dig out those treasures. We offer free jewellery, silver and watch valuations on Tuesdays, 9.30am-4.30pm, and Fridays, 10am-4pm, at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall. Entries invited until June 7 for our Fine Art Jewellery and Watches Auction and until August 14 for our summer sports memorabilia sale. To find out more, email [email protected] or call 01283 733988.