Civic regalia auctioned off

Antiques valuers are used to people bringing in heirlooms found around their home, hoping it would be worth a penny or two.

Antiques valuers are used to people bringing in heirlooms found around their home, hoping it would be worth a penny or two.

But yesterday, auctioneers got the rare opportunity to value Norwich's civic regalia.

Voluntary Norfolk organised an Antiques Valuation at Blackfriars Hall as one of its last civic charity events of the year.

The event saw dozens of people take in their prized treasures from a historic necklace to an ornate vase to see how much they were worth.

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During the event, the team from Keys Auctioneers of Aylsham were given the unique challenge of putting a value to the Lord Mayor of Norwich's St George's guild sword and the Sheriff's chain.

The sword was worth about �50,000 while the Sheriff's chain, currently worn by Professor Tim O'Riordan, dates back almost 300 years and was thought to be worth up to �25,000.

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Andrew Bullock, a valuer for Keys, said: 'One is aware of the civic regalia from all around the UK but one rarely gets the chance to come up close to it.

'It's an irreplaceable object. You are talking about something that is unique. It's not just a standard sword, this is very much a one off. It's quite an important blade, it's a 16th century Spanish blade while the hilt is early 17th century.'

The Sword of State was given to the City by St George's Company in 1705. The scabbard mounts are engraved with the Royal Arms and those of Norwich.

The Sheriff's chain, meanwhile, was made in 1716, weighs 22 ounces and is made from 14 carat gold.

Prof O'Riordan said: 'I was told that it's a very ancient chain and one of the oldest still in regular use. It's great that Norwich is still using its chains for the benefit of the city and for the benefit of the Sheriff.'

Everyone who took their items to the valuation yesterday paid �2 which will go directly to Voluntary Norfolk, the civic charity of the year.

The money will go towards the Norwich Volunteer Fund which has been specially designated to help volunteers in the city.

Brian Horner, the charity's chief executive, said: 'I'm very pleased that Keys have given their time and expertise to help raise money for us. This year has been fantastic for raising our public profile and huge thanks to the Lord Mayor and Sheriff for their efforts.'

Have you got a rare heirloom? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email

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