Do you have valuables in your drawers? We’ll venture that Queen Victoria thought what was in her drawers was quite valuable. And now those drawers — one pair, at least — are locked away at Hess Fine Art. First, some background.
An antiques dealer had called us to ask if we could shed light on valuation of some exceptional undies. Our first response was “Ummm, no thanks.” However, the dealer insisted we continue the discussion and a half hour later, we had contracted to pay over $1,000 for two pairs of underwear. Not just any underwear, mind you.
Queen Victoria's Unmentionables
We were now in possession of Queen Victoria’s unmentionables. These pure-linen pantaloons are embossed with the royal seal and come with a plethora of provenance — including handwritten notes of her own as well as newspaper articles from the 1950s and 1980s concerning their history. The former owner’s grandmother was a dear friend of one of the queen’s ladies of the bedchamber.
The handmaiden gave them to the grandmother, who passed them down through the family along with a pair of the queen’s daughter Princess Beatrice’s pantaloons, similarly embossed. While we are always on the lookout for unusual items, do refrain from sending us your underwear. (They could be put to better use at a rock concert … or perhaps a Tom Jones performance? It’s practically expected, and he has been knighted.)
As for their worth, we’ll dispense with the retail evaluation, as we haven’t had a request for bloomers, underwear or pantaloons in our 30 years on Fourth Street. With that being said, a set of Queen Victoria’s unmentionables did recently sell at the Auction House of Bloomsbury, with an auction estimate of 3,000-4,000 pounds, or $4,700-$6,200 U.S. Not too shabby.
Typically, at this point, we tell you where we have them on display — but in the interest of discretion, we will keep them locked in the vault, available to view by appointment. So your secret will be safe with us.
This is an archival article formerly written and is for informational purposes only. The valuations in this article have likely changed since it was first written.