Page last updated at 17:08 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Burns and Wilde possessions sold

Robert Burns' razor
An old document describes how Robert Burns left the razor at a friend's house.

A razor believed to have been owned by poet Robert Burns has been sold for £1,350 at auction in Edinburgh.

The razor came with documentation stating that it was once owned by the "bard himself".

The same auction also saw fierce bidding for an ivory-handled walking cane once owned by Oscar Wilde.

It is inscribed with Wilde's initials and his cell number at Reading Jail, and fetched £7,275 - more than 14 times the auctioneers' estimate.

Irish playwright Wilde was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for homosexuality in 1895, when it was still a crime.

His cane featured the engraving 'O W, C33' - his initials and the cell location Block C, floor three, cell three.

It also features the date 16 October 1898 - which would have been Wilde's 44th birthday. The cane had been valued at between £300 and £500.

The flamboyant playwright was released a broken man, humiliated and bankrupt from the jail on 19 May 1897.

His last work, the Ballad of Reading Gaol, written in 1898, was first published under the pseudonym of Cell Number C33.

Oscar Wilde cane
Wilde's cane sold for far more than its estimated value

Auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull said the buyer of the razor reputed to have belonged to Robert Burns wished to remain anonymous, but it would remain in Scotland.

Burns is said to have left it at a friend's house in Irvine, Ayrshire. The lot included an old note listing its subsequent owners.

Lyon and Turnbull director Campbell Armour said: "The razor definitely dates from the 18th Century.

"With the documentation and story it seems reasonable to think the razor did belong to Robert Burns."

The razor was left at the house of Mrs Frances Dunlop, who became a regular correspondent and friend of Burns after being impressed by The Cotter's Saturday Night.

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