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The idea of the Ashes first came into being in the summer of 1882 when a touring Australian side beat England at the Oval and The Times mourned the death of English cricket in a mock obituary which proclaimed that the body of the national sport would be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.

Naturally enough, when the Hon. Ivo Bligh arrived in Australia later that year as captain of an England team he carried on the joke and talked of winning back the Ashes.

While the English team was in Australia they were lodged and entertained in great style by Sir William Clarke, president of the Melbourne Cricket Club, and it was the ladies of his household who made the Ashes a reality, by placing the ashes of a bail in a little urn.

Ivo Bligh managed to keep his mind on cricket long enough to win the series but there were plenty of distractions including a certain Florence Morphy – the music teacher in the Clarke household. Before returning to England in March 1883, Bligh proposed to Florence and acknowledged the Clarkes’ hospitality with the presentation of the silver tray which has now come on the market for the first time.

It is 141/2in (37cm) across, weighs 47oz and is marked for Martin & Hall, Sheffield 1880. The inscription reflects the warmth of that first Ashes encounter: Presented to Sir William & Lady Clarke As a tribute of friendship and esteem By the English cricketers in Australia 1882-3 and the tray also bears the facsimile signatures of the eight English gentleman amateurs in the team: Bligh, Read, Steel, Charles and George Studd, Tylecote, Leslie and Vernon.

With the Ashes themselves jealously guarded at Lord’s in London, this tray seems likely to be the only major item so closely connected to the original series to come on the market and Lawson Menzies have high hopes of it at auction, estimating it at Aus$200,000-300,000 (£80,000-145,000).