November 3, 2015 / 1:56 PM / 3 years ago

Margaret Thatcher's iconic handbags go to auction

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher walks past flags from some of the European nations as she heads toward the second day of meetings during a summit of European community leaders in Hanover, West Germany in this June 28, 1988 file photo. REUTERS/Michael Urban/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Handbags owned by late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, whose apocryphal use of them to bludgeon opponents gave rise to the term “handbagging”, are to be auctioned after a museum said talks about adding items from her wardrobe to its collection had led nowhere.

The bags are among 350 “historic and personal lots”, also including clothes, signed copies of speeches, Thatcher’s wedding dress, her red prime ministerial dispatch bag and items of jewelry, that the auctioneer Christie’s said on Tuesday would be offered at its London showroom on Dec. 15 and later online.

Thatcher, who died in 2013, was Britain’s longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century and the only woman to have held the office, but is remembered by many on the left of British politics as highly divisive.

The term “handbagging” was coined in the 1980s by Thatcher’s fellow Conservative member of parliament Julian Critchley to describe her style in cabinet meetings, the Oxford English Dictionary says, defining it as an action by a woman to “verbally attack or crush (a person or idea) ruthlessly and forcefully”.

The auction was announced after London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), Britain’s main repository of historic articles of clothing, said in a statement carried by British media that it did not deem the articles appropriate for its collection.

“Several years ago, a general discussion took place to explore whether some pieces from the wardrobe of Baroness Thatcher might be added to the V&A’s collection,” the museum added later, in a statement sent to Reuters. “These conversations did not develop.”

Reporting by Michael Roddy; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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