Picked from a trench in 1916, a poppy which is thought to be the only surviving example from the First World War sold for £5200 at Duke’s of Dorchester earlier this month.
Though faded, the poppy was still in good
condition, having been preserved in an acrylic block since 2011
when it was included in a special exhibition staged by the Royal
It was picked by Private Cecil Roughton at a
front-line trench in Arras, Northern France, when he was only 17.
Pressed carefully so that the flower, stem and leaves remained
intact, Roughton later taped the poppy to a page in an autograph
book belonging to the vendor's mother, Miss Joan Banton.
She was a neighbour and young admirer of the
dashing Pte Roughton who survived the horrors of the Great War.
Roughton gave it to her in 1923 when she was
a young girl, writing on the bottom of the page Souvenir from a
front line trench near Arras, May 1916. It wasn't until 1921
that the poppy was officially adopted as a symbol of remembrance in
Britain by Field Marshal Douglas Haig.
As expected, with an estimate of £500-1000
for the sale on December 6, the poppy attracted great interest from
those in the military and several public institutions who wished to
acquire it for special exhibitions in the centenary year 2014.
After a battle between a phone and a
commission bidder, it was bought by jewellery dealers Hancocks, the
Burlington Arcade firm who still hold the royal warrant to make the
highest military bravery award, the Victoria Cross.
The buyer's premium was 22%.