An impressive Edwardian aquamarine and diamond brooch with a provenance to the first lady to take her seat as an MP in the UK sold for £54,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) at auction this month.
Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Roland Arkell
Formerly owned by Viscountess (Nancy) Astor, elected as MP for Plymouth Sutton in 1919, it had been consigned to Dreweatts in Newbury on March 13 by her great-granddaughter.
Made (either in the UK or US) c.1910, the brooch is a classic Belle Epoque jewel mounted in platinum-fronted gold. The aquamarines, including a step cut stone estimated to weigh just under 88cts, are probably Brazilian and of a colour that today would be designated ‘Martha Rocha’ (after the 1950s beauty queen known for her captivating blue eyes). The top estimate was £20,000.
Nancy Witcher Langhorne was born in Danville, Virginia, into a moderately successful railroad business family. Moving to Britain in 1905, the following year she married fellow American Waldorf Astor, receiving both the country house Cliveden and the 55.23 carat, Sancy diamond as wedding gifts.
When her husband was elevated to the peerage, she contested his vacant parliamentary seat in the by election of 1919. She became an MP on December 1, holding the seat until her retirement in 1945.