North Devon woman reveals huge collection of HM Queen portraits and memorabilia
- Credit: Viral PR
A North Devon woman has gathered an astonishing treasure trove of portraits and memorabilia of Her Majesty the Queen simply through the power of eBay and the internet.
Sarah Grant has more than 3,000 items in her huge collection spanning the Queen’s entire life, from original painted portraits to limited edition prints, original family photographs, busts, stamps and coins.
She has a fascinating array of rare items which include handwritten thank you notes from the Queen and Prince Philip, autographed pictures and a sample of the silk from Norman Hartnell’s studio of the Queen’s dress worn during the Coronation.
She even has a gift-wrapped piece of cake presented by a 12-year-old Princess Elizabeth to Captain Biscoe, the then Chief Secretary of the Royal Life Saving Society, probably as a thank you gift for him helping her through her swimming exams.
Sarah has been collecting for more than 10 years, finding things through the internet, in charity shops and by contacting the artists directly. She works as a section manager within a local Asda store.
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Incredibly, a huge number of the items in her collection have been bought through eBay or unearthed by Sarah following detailed research or contacting the artists or their families. She has already been able to donate many items to various museums and organisations.
There are rare original pictures of the Royal Family in their personal lives, including some of the Queen as a child that have never been published before.
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Her ambition is to put together a showcase of the Queen’s life by creating an exhibition from some of her collection, that could be displayed in Devon initially and perhaps even go on to tour the UK.
Next year is the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and Sarah is hoping the exhibition can become part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
The death of Prince Phillip has added a poignancy to her collection, which includes photographs and paintings of the Royal Wedding as well as pictures of the young couple away from the limelight.
Some incredible artwork in her possession includes a Zsigmond Strobl porcelain bust from 1937 as well as portraits from the studio of photographer Dorothy Wilding plus original Royal Wedding and Coronation paintings that appeared in the Illustrated London News and came direct from their archive.
It is the research that fascinates Sarah and she is hoping to become known as a historian and serious collector, she said: “I chose HM Queen not because I am patriotic or even a Royalist, but I have huge admiration and respect for the work and dedication she has shown in her life.
“The word iconic is used so many times but she is truly one of the greatest icons of the 20th century. She has dedicated her whole life to serve our country and has never faltered in that promise.
“I have no qualifications in art history or art. My collecting is different in that I wanted pieces in my collection that were a reflection of Her Majesty’s life and work rather than the regular memorabilia that you can buy to celebrate different occasions.”
Careful research of every item purchased has led to some amazing finds and the personal stories of people who worked with the Royal Family behind the scenes.
Examples include the personal photo album of a colonel of the Royal Artillery that was about to be dumped in a skip, but sold on eBay for £4.99.
Sarah also has original documents and photographs belonging to Albert Stone, who was a member of the Royal Household and a Sergeant at Arms for the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.
Dorothy Wilding captured many portraits of the Queen and the Royal Family and was an official photographer at the Coronation. Some of her photographs were painted on to canvas at her London studio and published in the Illustrated London News.
None of the collection is on display at her North Devon home, but is carefully stored away.
She was inspired by the collectors Herb and Dorothy Vogel, two New York civil service workers who amassed an amazing collection of post-1960s art that was stored in their one bedroom rented apartment. They used his postal wages for buying art and her librarian salary to live off.
Sarah said: “I wanted to see if the same could be achieved by someone of this generation but in the modern way of using the internet as a source of information and buying.
“The success of my collection has been predominately the rise of eBay and the sheer number of items that have come up sale through the internet.
“This point was also brought to the forefront this last year when coronavirus shut down most of the art sector and a lot had to revert to online.
“Instead of donating my whole collection to the National Portrait Gallery and various museums like the Vogels did, I would like to use it as a touring exhibition so that it is easily accessible to people.
“I would like to use my collection to highlight mental health and to donate any monies made to various mental health charities.
“I collect because I enjoy it, it’s about sharing what I have done, helping charities and I have discovered some interesting stories along the way that have become lost in time.”