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Jane Austen gold ring to stay in the UK

04 October 2013Written by Ian McKay

The Jane Austen’s House Museum at Chawton in Hampshire has raised the £150,000 needed to keep a gold turquoise ring once owned by Jane Austen in the country.

Sent to auction by a descendant, the ring was sold last July at Sotheby's for £126,000 to the American singer Kelly Clarkson (see report in ATG No 2053) but a temporary export ban was applied and, thanks in large part to an anonymous pledge of £100,000, the ring is now to be displayed in the house in which the author spent the last years of her life.

Contributions from Austen lovers worldwide, among them the TV gardener and presenter Alan Titchmarsh, made up the balance and Kelly Clarkson has gracefully acknowledged that Chawton is an appropriate home.

"The ring is a national treasure," she said, "and I am happy to know that so many Jane Austen fans will get to see it."

On the other hand, a superb 15th century illuminated manuscript from Chatsworth, a secular romance called the Roman de Gillion de Trazegnies that sold for £3.4m at Sotheby's on December 4 last (see ATG No 2073), has had its export ban lifted and is US-bound.

No British buyer was prepared to match the Getty Museum's winning bid, and Elizabeth Morrison, curator of manuscripts, was informed on July 4 that the ban had been lifted. That the news arrived on Independence Day was not lost on Ms Morrison, said one US press report, adding that the ban was "part of Britain's ill-conceived protectionist policy for art housed on its shores".

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