A rare playbill from the HMS Arctic expedition in Victorian times has sold for 950 times its original price.
A £5 PLAYBILL was auctioned for little under £5,000 after it was discovered to be an unique antique.
The theatre advertisement was printed on HMS Resolute, a ship that was part of a Victorian Arctic expedition. Its timbers were turned into a desk for former US President Rutherford B Hayes, which is still in the Oval Office of the White House today.
The crew would put on performances replete with costumes and advertising playbills such as this one while berthed at Dealy Island off the south shore of Melville Island, Canada, during the winter months.
“This fashionable site of amusement will open for the season on Wednesday November 30 1853, when the Ships Companies will perform Shakespeare’s much-loved comedy, Taming of the Shrew,” it says.
“To be followed by the officers playing The Two Bonnycastles, a farcical farce.
“Comic songs and recitations will entertain the audience during the intermission.”
The one-of-a-kind object provides a fascinating glimpse into the activities of the crew of the HMS Resolute, a ship with ties to both Victorian England and American history.
The playbill was auctioned off in a charity store in Epping, Essex, and sold for 950 times what its owner spent for it.
The silk theater advertisement was discovered when the buyer noticed a customer picking it up to examine it before putting it back down.
The anonymous buyer did their own research and discovered a similar piece that sold for nearly £2,000 at Christie’s in 2004.
Significant interest pushed the price up to £3,800 at the hammer, with additional fees bringing the total paid to £4,750.
“It’s amazing what still pops up in charity shops,” Sworders’ Guy Schooling said.
“Before selling their art and antiques, they should certainly seek professional counsel.
“However, for our vendor, who knew we had a solid track record selling things from the so-called Heroic Age of Polar research, this was a fantastic find.”