Tudor-era chain of office to be auctioned

Mon Oct 6, 2008 12:56pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - The only known complete surviving collar of office from the time of Henry VIII, thought to have been given by the king to one of his closest advisers, will go under the hammer on November 6, Christie's said on Monday.

The Coleridge Collar, which the auctioneer called "one of the most important surviving relics of the Tudor age," is expected to fetch 200-300,000 pounds ($355-530,000) at a London auction of European furniture, sculpture, and tapestries.

Christie's said the collar was probably given personally by the king to Sir Edward Montagu, and was made in 1546-7. It closely resembles the one worn by Sir Thomas More in Hans Holbein the Younger's famous portrait.

Montagu was a member of the Privy Council, governor to Henry's son and heir Edward VI, and one of 16 executors of the king's will.

The collar was worn by Montagu's successors to the role of Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas until 1880, after which it no longer had a formal role and became the property of Lord Coleridge.

Livery collars first gained prominence when they were used by Henry IV as a symbol of allegiance to the monarch.

The Lancaster kings used the motif of the "esses" ($), after which the Yorkists used suns and roses. The Tudor dynasty revived the esses and began to incorporate portcullises and the Tudor rose, as in the Coleridge example.

The exact meaning of the esses symbol is not known.

<p>The Coleridge Collar is shown in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Christie's/Handout</p>