Leeds & West Yorkshire

Harold Wilson auction of 'entire life' raises £200k

One of Harold Wilson's pipes - lot 523 Image copyright Hansons/PA
Image caption The sale included several of the pipes smoked by the former Labour prime minister Harold Wilson

Hundreds of items owned by former Prime Minister Harold Wilson, including one of his trademark pipes, have sold for more than £200,000 at auction.

The 700 items - which also included the ex-PM's famous Gannex raincoat and a novelty HP Sauce bottle - all belonged to the Labour politician and wife Mary.

The collection, from the estate of Lady Wilson, who died last year aged 102, had an initial estimate of £65,000.

Wilson was born in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in 1916.

Image copyright Alamy
Image caption The sale of a "prime minister's entire life" was unprecedented, said the auctioneers

An order of service and an invitation to Sir Winston Churchill's funeral sold for £4,500 from an original estimate of £200, while a vase given by Pope Paul VI expected to sell for £1,500 reached £4,700.

Christmas cards from world leaders were popular, with one from the Queen and Prince Philip tripling estimates to sell for £170.

A watercolour by the Prince of Wales sold for £10,500 - believed to be a world record-breaking price.

Jim Spencer, of Hansons Auctioneers, said the sale, at Bishton Hall, in Little Haywood, Staffordshire, was "unprecedented".

"Everything was kept over the years, every gift or signed book or presentation album of photographs.

"I don't think a prime minister's entire life has come up for auction like this before.

"But here it is, gifts from presidents, photographs, letters, Christmas cards, everything."

Image copyright Hansons Auctioneers
Image caption The raincoat contains Wilson's name tag

A Comoy's Leonardo pipe used by the former prime minister, estimated to reach up to £50, sold for £320 and Wilson's tan-coloured Gannex raincoat sold for £500, double what had been predicted.

A bottle of centenary HP Sauce made specially for Wilson sold for £250.

Wilson entered Parliament in the Labour landslide of 1945 as MP for Ormskirk and later becoming MP for Huyton.

As prime minister he governed from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1976.

He resigned in 1976 and died in May 1995.

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