Antiques experts have been left stunned by a rich array of antiques and ephemera gathered by a former Derby hospital worker who “captured the art of collecting”.
Everything from fine ceramics and silver to paintings, centuries-old letters and vintage greetings cards were gathered over a lifetime by the late Priscilla Kidman, who died at the age of 97 in 2021.
Now the former Derbyshire Royal Infirmary almoner’s treasures, some 150 lots in total, could fetch in excess of £30,000 in Hansons Auctioneers’ Winter Fine Art Auction on February 24.
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons, said: “The collection of the late Priscilla Kidman captures the art of collecting over 70 years. Our valuers have been amazed by the finds during what has been a fascinating cataloguing process. For example, uncovered from a cupboard was a stump work embroidery dating back to circa 1680. Depicting a lady in a landscape with acorn leaves, it was made during the reign of Charles II.
“There were other unique historical finds, too. In one box, we came across a letter sent from Australia to Wiltshire in 1852 talking about the Australian Gold Rush. The writer described finding ‘that trash called gold’. In another box we found an 1813 workhouse token from Birmingham with an oval portrait of a young gentleman with a lock of his hair.
“Other items include a beautiful diamond crescent brooch, an Edwardian emerald and diamond brooch, a Meissen teapot from 1770, an important carved Cantonese ivory glove box, which is expected to make over £1,000, and a beautiful table globe, circa 1810.The Globe was made only 40 years after Captain Cook discovered Australia.”
Priscilla, who was born in Derby in 1923, was the daughter of Dr George Kidman, a general physician at Derby Hospital. A keen sportsman, he played rugby for Guys Hospital in London and for the Barbarians against Wales. Meanwhile her mother, Marjorie, was known for her many philanthropic activities in Derby and was involved in the music scene.
Priscilla was educated in Derby until the age of 13 before transferring to St Mary’s School in Calne, Wiltshire, a private boarding school. In 1941 she gained a place at St Anne’s College, Oxford.
In 1944, during the Second World War, she joined the Wrens and served in Portsmouth until 1946.Afterwards, she qualified as an almoner in Winchester and returned to her home city where she worked for 30 years. She rose to become Senior Almoner and later Social Services lead at Derby Royal Infirmary.
After retiring in 1984, Priscilla lived life to the full and pursued many hobbies and interests. She travelled the world for more than 25 years visiting friends and family, often in far-flung places. She cooked well, enjoyed good wines and entertained frequently.
She loved Italy and took Italian and Spanish language lessons, tried her hand at painting and embroidery, supported numerous charities and was involved in church life.
Mr Hanson said: “Priscilla was a talented, vibrant intellectual with a tremendous eye for artistic beauty and an eclectic taste which encompassed fine antiques and items woven into world history. She left a lasting legacy of both beautiful and historical objects. It has been a privilege to catalogue her items.”
The Priscilla Kidman Collection will be sold in Hansons’ Winter Fine Art Auction on February 24. To find out more, email [email protected].