Issue 58 April 2024

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Money for old felt

Selous' old clothes sell at auction.

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Auctions & Markets|May 2023

Provenance, provenance, provenance. When it comes to collectors of shooting sports memorabilia that mantra means money and Holt’s proved it in their March Sale.

A moth-eaten felt hat and a faded khaki shirt topped out the bidding at £2,500, with international collectors competing with the British to bag items apparently worn by famous adventurer, soldier and hunter Frederick Courteney Selous.

The stone and bronze statue of Selous in the Natural History Museum in London was created and given pride of place in 1920 when his collection of trophies and specimens was gifted to the nation.

Sculptor William Robert Colton was given the bush shirt and hat by the Selous family and his sculpture is depicted wearing them both and holding a rifle. The garments have remained in Colton’s family ever since.

Selous became a legendary figure in his own lifetime, which was cut short by a German sniper’s bullet while he was involved in hostilities in Africa in 1917.

Even a century later, such is the attraction of Selous to hunting enthusiasts that attributing these garments to him proved sufficient to induce a bidding war culminating in a bill exceeding £3,000, once all fees were settled.

Gun auctions do attract related ephemera and, as we have just observed, if it is sufficiently interesting to collectors, it can generate significant revenue.

I was not among the bidders but I can, at least, claim to have worn F.C. Selous' hat.

Selous in the hat and shirt sold at Holt's.

Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on (modified )

Auctions & Markets|May 2023

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