Page last updated at 18:24 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Downing Street sign withdrawn from auction

The Downing Street sign
A Cambridge councillor raised doubts over the road sign

A 19th Century Downing Street sign has been withdrawn from an auction after doubts were raised over whether it is from the famous political address.

The cast-iron sign was to go under the hammer at Bonhams as part of the Gentleman's Library Sale on Wednesday.

But it was withdrawn after a councillor from Cambridge claimed that it might be a sign from that city - and not London.

The sign, which has raised black letters on a white background, had been expected to fetch up to £6,000.

Number 10 Downing Street has housed the office of the prime minister since 1730 and later his or her family, although the last incumbent Tony Blair moved his family next door.

We can't go ahead and sell something until we know what it is
Bonhams spokesman

The auctioneer had initially said that the "very rare" sign was sold by Westminster City Council in the 1980s.

Bonhams said it was standard practice not to auction items which were not properly identified.

A spokesman said: "Somebody questioned the provenance of it and when that happens we always withdraw the item from sale.

"We can't go ahead and sell something until we know what it is.

"Cambridge City Council thought they recognised it as a sign from Cambridge rather than a sign from London."

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