It Started With a Bid


I first saw this item advertised at my local auction house, Watermans, in early August 2019. There looked like there was lots of stuff in the boxes but how much was it? What would the estimate be? What would Mrs M say about me buying it; I already have many other things she things I shouldn’t purchase!

As it turned out, I took her along with me and we viewed it together on the Thursday just before the sale on the 9th. She was as interested as I was not least because the first letter I picked up was addressed to HMP Lewes in the 1940s. Was this a letter to an inmate? Possibly. Or maybe someone that worked there? That’s what it had to be - a prison warden perhaps? There were so many interesting facets - social history, the prison angle, the fact they were love letters, the many photos…

I didn’t want to look too closely though. This appeared to be really interesting and fit right in with my love of family research, so the more I coveted it, the more painful it would be if I didn’t win it. With an estimate of £20-£40, and a quick chat with Colin, the auctioneer, I knew I had to leave a bid. After seeing a few other things that caught my eye, I sat down with Mrs M and we discussed what the upper limit would be. I came up with a figure and she thought I should add £10, which I did.

Now we would wait until the next day between 2 and 4pm to see whether I had been successful.