The auctioneers reported multiple bidders up to around £4000, after which three interested parties – one from the US, another from Canada and the eventual buyer from the UK – carried the price upwards.
The estimate was £600-900.
The card was posted to Ealing Police Station and received on October 29,1888.
It states: “Beware there is two women I want here they are bastards, and I mean to have them my knife is still in good order it is a students knife and I hope you liked the kidney. I am Jack the Ripper.”
Measuring 2.75 x 4.75in (7 x 12cm), it is written in ink and, according to the catalogue, has been in the police Ripper files until they decided to finally close the case with the identity of the Ripper never traced.
The catalogue entry continues: “It was given to the vendor's husband, a Police Constable and member of the Metropolitan Police Force, as a memento for his retirement from the force in 1966. Unwanted items were simply thrown away. One officer found and kept 300 such documents which he has now given to the National Records Office who deface them with a stamp. The PC kept the card in a drawer until his death, where it has remained with his widow.”
The date the card was received at Ealing Police Station was 11 days before the last of the Ripper’s victims, Mary Jane Kelly, was murdered. While other cards purporting to be from Jack the Ripper were sent to different police stations, it is believed this was the first time that such a card with police provenance has been offered at auction.
In researching the card, the auctioneers consulted the Ripper Museum and the Whitechapel Society, while the expert and author of a book on the Ripper’s letters, Stewart Evans, judged the card as both right for the period and as one of the letters the police received.
The buyer’s premium at Grand Auctions was 20%.