Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 17:48 UK

'Jane Austen hair' fetches 4,800

The curio that may contain Jane Austen's hair
The crafting of hair into lockets was common in Victorian times

A lock of hair thought to have belonged to Jane Austen has been sold at auction in Gloucestershire for 4,800.

Holybourne Rare Books of Alton in Hampshire bought the 19th Century curio on behalf of a client who collects Jane Austen memorabilia.

The previous lot, a first edition set of the author's first novel, sold for 30,000 to an unnamed phone bidder.

The auctioneers said the lock of hair was "more of a gamble" as they could not prove if it was Jane Austen's.

'Truth may never be known'

Chris Albury of the Dominic Winter Auction House said: "The set of books is a known quantity with a pricing track record.

"The lock of hair was more of a gamble as in spite of research we could not prove its authenticity.

"It's definitely of the right period and as a sophisticated piece of hair artwork incorporating Jane Austen's name, on balance we and other specialists think it most likely that this is the Jane Austen rather than another of the same name.

"The truth may never be known and at the end of the day I don't think it was an expensive gamble for a serious Austen collector used to spending five-figure sums."

The unusual item shows a lock of fine brown hair which has been made into a weeping willow with its branches shading Jane Austen's gravestone.

The 'in memoriam' hair display was found in an antique shop 20 years ago.

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Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard Jane Austen's hair sold for nearly 5,000 - 20 hrs ago

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