Silk handkerchief from 1861-62 which commemorates England’s first cricket tour to Australia, £2600 at Knights Sporting Auctions.

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Titled Eleven of England in Australia with Mr. Mallam, it dates to 1861-62 and commemorates England’s first cricket tour to Australia.

The centre is printed in sepia with an image of the 11 members of the touring party, all named, standing with the tour manager, Mallam. Not depicted is the 12th member of the party, ‘Tiny’ Wells. Below the image can be seen the embroidered initials RS (Richard Sanderson of Swaley, Clitheroe, who played one first-class match, for Lancashire, in 1870).

Measuring 2ft 11in x 2ft 9in (89 x 84cm) in a modern frame, it previously sold at Christie’s sale in October 1987. Apart from minor soiling, it was described by the Norwich auction house as otherwise in very good condition.

It sold for £2600 against an estimate of £800-1200 on March 18.

In 1861 the first All-England cricket team to tour Australia sailed on SS Great Britain from Liverpool. This was the first commercial sponsorship of cricket.

The idea for the tour came from the English proprietors of a Melbourne company called Spiers and Pond, which ran the Cafe de Paris in the city. Spiers was Felix William Spiers and Pond was Christopher Pond.

Their representative in England, a Mr Mallam, had tried to interest Charles Dickens in a lecture tour of Australia and New Zealand, offering him £7000, later increased to £10,000, to travel to Australia, but Dickens turned the offer down.

Growing popularity

Instead, having noted the success of the first England overseas cricket tour of 1859 to North America and the growing popularity of cricket in Australia, Spiers and Pond decided to attract a team of leading English cricketers.

Mallam therefore journeyed to Birmingham in September 1861 to watch the North v South game at Aston Park. During the game, Mallam met the cricketers at the nearby Hen and Chicken Hotel to make a business proposal.

As a result, 12 players agreed to tour Australia the following winter on terms of £150 per man plus expenses.