Everyone loves finding treasure. Going through our parents and grandparents’ old things, discovering a priceless item we may not have even known they possessed, can be a joyous process.
One woman from the U.K. who decided to clean out her late father-in-law’s attic received quite the surprise when she found and then took a forgotten treasure to “Antiques Roadshow” jewelry specialist Geoffrey Munn.
#AntiquesRoadshow expert @GeoffreyMunn1 believes this ring contains the hair of Charlotte Bronte and ‘as a relic of one of the greatest romantic novelists of the 19th century’, he values this ‘tiny, tiny little thing’ at £20,000’. pic.twitter.com/ZA00kDk23H
— Antiques Roadshow (@BBC_ARoadshow) April 14, 2019
The woman who showed up at the Erddig, North Wales, location has not been identified, but we can certainly relate to her excitement.
“We found this intriguing box,” the woman said. “Locked. No key.”
She went on to tell Munn they’d tried multiple keys until the right one fit, only to discover the box contained a ring.
“I noticed inside there was an inscription,” she said. The camera zoomed in at that point, revealing a name and date: C. Brontë, March 31, 1855.
“I’ve got goosebumps now thinking about it,” she told Munn. “It’s got a hinge on it, and inside there’s plaited hair, I think it may be the hair of Charlotte Brontë.”
It’s clear from Munn’s reaction and the growing smile on the woman’s face that they suspect what we all do, and what the ring itself proclaims. This ring may hold a relic from one of the most well-renowned authors of an era — an author who remains widely recognized today.
Munn shared there was “very little reason to doubt” the small piece of jewelry does in fact contain the author’s hair.
“It was a convention to make jewelry out of hair in the 19th century,” he said.
“There was a terror of not being able to remember the face and character of the person who had died,” he continued. “It wasn’t an uncommon thing to happen… It echoes a bracelet Charlotte wore of her two sisters’ hair.”
Munn went on to voice he thinks it is “utterly and completely credible” that this piece of jewelry belonged to Brontë.
Of course, after hearing that, the woman couldn’t help but grin even wider. She waited in anticipation for Munn to tell her the worth of the item.
“I doubt frankly that it’d worth more than £25,” he said, referring to the ring material itself. That’s just over $32 in the U.S. But, of course, this isn’t just any ordinary ring, and Munn agrees.
“I think as a relic of one of the greatest romantic novelists of the 19th century… I think this tiny, tiny little thing is worth £20,000.”
That comes to just over $26,000 in the states.
“Jane Eyre” was first published in 1847. The story of the orphan girl has been retold and reprinted countless times over the years, and as such, there are those who are eager to possess a piece of the famous work’s famous author.
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The Guardian reported the principal curator at the Brontë Society & Brontë Parsonage Museum, Ann Dinsdale, is interested in adding the ring to the museum’s collection.
“We already have a considerable collection of Brontë hair at the museum,” she said. “And there’s usually a sample on display.”
She also noted the ring would make a “lovely addition” to what they already have available.
To learn more about the rich literary history behind the Brontë sisters’ legacy, visit The Brontë Society’s website.
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