Fourteen old rings provided an unexpected windfall for a city pensioner at a charity Antiques Roadshow-style day.
Local auctioneer experts J Humbert held the free valuations day at Central Milton Keynes library in aid of Willen Hospice.
One elderly lady went along with her daughter to seek valuer Jonathan Humbert’s opinion on a handful of possessions.
“She bought out a chipped teapot and some first day cover stamps. Then she handed me a brass display box of rings and my jaw almost hit the floor,” said Jonathan.
The box contained a set of mourning rings dating back to the late 18th century.
The family crest showed were all made for grieving members of the Smythe family, who once lived at Ashton Court stately home in Bristol.
Bought years ago by a collector in the lady’s family, some even contained locks of plaited hair belonging to the deceased.
“When I told the lady how much they were worth she thought I was joking and warned me she had a heart condition!” said Jonathan.
He called Bristol Council, which now owns Ashton Court, and it immediately agreed to buy the rings to go on display in Bristol museum.
They paid £7,400.
Said Jonathan: “The lady and her daughter were thrilled. And the lovely thing is that these mourning rings have now gone back to the town where they belong.”
Other gems at the event included an 18ct gold compact that sold for £1,700 and a £10,000 haul of old gold and jewellery from one resident.
The auctioneers are now planning another valuation day on March 7 at the library.
Anybody is welcome to bring jewellery, furniture, ceramics or paintings to be valued in exchange for a donation to Willen Hospice,