Fellows Auctioneers finds racing history in jar of buttons

The mid-Victorian gold reverse-carved and painted intaglio scarf holder commemorates Lord Lyon’s English Triple Crown victory. Estimate: £600- £800/$777-$1,036. Fellows image

BIRMINGHAM, UK – An intriguing item found in a jar of buttons turned out to be a beautiful piece of racing history depicting a former British prime minister’s horse. The mid-Victorian gold reverse carved and painted scarf ring commemorates Lord Lyon’s victories, and is up for auction at Fellows on Thursday, Nov. 14. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

Lord Lyon was a racehorse owned by Richard Sutton and later Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery in the mid-19th century.

The beautiful scarf ring depicts the elegant horse with one of its former jockeys and has inscriptions detailing its successes on the back. It carries a £600-£800 estimate.

The scarf ring was kept in a jar for many years in the Dorset village of Bourton. This was close to the family of Richard Sutton, who owned Lord Lyon in 1866.

Under the leased ownership of Sutton, the stallion became the third ever horse to win the English Triple Crown race – following his victories at the 1866 Epsom Derby, the Two Thousand Guineas Stakes and the St. Leger Stakes.

The engraving to the reverse of the item reads Lord Lyon. Winner. Two Thousand, Derby & St Leger. 1866.

In 1876, the stallion was sold to the 5th Earl of Rosebery, who served as prime minister of the United Kingdom from March 1894 to June 1895.

The 5th Earl of Rosebery had a keen hobby in horse racing, and he bought the horse for £4,500 – relocating Lord Lyon to his Crafton Stud in Crafton, Buckinghamshire. The Earl owned Lord Lyon until 1880, until the stallion stopped competing in horse racing.

Lord Lyon then resided in Yorkshire until he died at age 24 in 1887.

The 5th Earl of Rosebery went on to succeed William Gladstone as prime minister in 1894 until his resignation to the Queen just over one year later resulted in the end of his term.

“We are excited to offer a special piece of racing history in our November fine jewelry auction. The provenance really makes this an interesting and standout item, with the impressive achievements of the stallion engraved to the reverse. Collectors of reverse-carved intaglio will have a rare opportunity to add a unique piece to their collection,” said Alex Duffy, jewelry specialist at Fellows Auctioneers.