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  • Drab looking lamp found to be a 2000 year old relic and sold for an astonishing 445,000 pounds

    January 23, 2011 | Posted by

    An antique marble lampshade installed at a retired school teacher’s (John Barratt) home in Britain was found to be a 2,000-year-old Roman relic and sold for a staggering 445,000 pounds at an auction. Auctioneers from Christie’s who were invited to value collectable items identified it as being a Roman marble cinerary urn dating to about the first century.


    The 19-inch high ornament was acquired in the 1950s by John Barratt’s father Sir Sydney Barratt, a distinguished scientist who helped create the World War II Dambusters’celebrated’bouncing bombs’. Following John’s death last year, his niece sold the mansion with an asking price of 6 million pounds, and some of the contents have now been auctioned by Christie’s.

    The story goes back to reveal that it was actually a squat looking vase in which the school teacher unaware of the rarity of the collectible, drilled one hole in the bottom of the flex a couple of screws in the top for the light fitting. Then – in keeping with the prevailing style of the 1970s – a gaudy red shade to finish it off.

    Auctioneers were stunned when bidding raced rapidly towards half a million, boosting the total proceeds from the sale to 3.2 million pounds.

    “The item came into us in the form of an electric lamp that had a 1970s-style red lampshade on top of it. We had a closer examination of it and unscrewed the lamp and took the lid off to look inside,”Georgiana Aitkin, Christie’s head of antiquities was quoted as saying by Daily Mail. ‘Two very small holes had been drilled in the top of the lid and in the bottom so a cable could run up through the middle of it’, Aitkin said.

    “On top of the lid a metal fitting had been fixed in place that secured the lightbulb, and on top of that was the lampshade. It was a bit of a monstrosity and it was a shame that such a historically important item had been turned into a domestic lamp. We removed the fittings and were able to date the urn to about the first century AD,”Aitkin said.

    Sir Sydney Barratt, who died in 1975 aged 77, built up his collection of art and antiques after taking on his father’s passion for collectables. It was acquired by him for his then home in Summerhill, Staffs, before he installed it at 18th century home near Bath when he moved there in 1961.

    After this story, all we can say is that in case you have a lampshade lying at home and you have grown tired of seeing it in your living room, just get it checked, maybe you are fortunate enough.