Florence Nightingale letter in Derbyshire sale

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale – Wikipedia image, photograph by Henry Hering, 1860

A letter about eggs left buried in a box of random papers for decades could make hundreds of pounds at auction, thanks to its celebrated writer.

The letter, written 121 years ago in 1899, was taken along to Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire, prior to lockdown, for valuation because its baffled owner could not understand why it had been kept among his family heirlooms for decades.

Hansons’ experts were swift to reveal an extraordinary explanation. The letter about eggs was written by Florence Nightingale, the famous founder of modern nursing who lived from 1820-1910.

Known as The Lady With The Lamp, she came to prominence while serving as a trainer of nurses during the Crimean War.

Florence Nightingale letterThe Florence Nightingale letter is now set to go to auction with an estimate of £500-£600.

The seller, who did not wish to be named, said, “I don’t know why I never noticed the signature. I’d glanced at the note a few times and always wondered why someone in my family had decided to keep a letter  from someone going on about eggs.

“I’ve had it for years. It was on a box of old family heirlooms which I’d inherited.”

The note about eggs, written in pencil by Nightingale 121 years ago, has what she is known best for at its heart – her caring nature. It was written to help someone who was sick.

The note, signed and dated March 6, 1899, and written on headed paper – 10, South Street, Park Lane. W. –  says: ‘To the Aylesbury Dairy Co. Would you be so very good as to send me at once 6 eggs, if possible, laid this morning (or less than 6 if laid this morning) with the dark brown shells, for a gentleman very ill indeed, who fancies them – and to supply me with the same every morning for the gentleman who likes your eggs, & takes hardly anything. I will send them to him at once. Yours faithfully, Florence Nightingale. I shall be so much obliged to you.

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “What a wonderful find, a letter from Britain’s most famous nurse aptly displaying her caring nature once again. As the nation battles Covid-19, it is good to be reminded of Florence Nightingale, an iconic British figure whose caring nature and dedication continues to be displayed by NHS workers today.”

The Florence Nightingale letter is due to be sold in Hansons’ Spring Fine Art and Library Auction, currently delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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