A dispatch box, a bottle of whisky and some frogs — estate of Baroness Betty Boothroyd going under the hammer

Items belonging to the first female Speaker of the House of Commons will be auctioned off for charity next week

What do Kermit the Frog, a signed first edition of John Major’s autobiography and a black leather House of Commons Dispatch box have in common? They all belonged to the late Baroness Betty Boothroyd and are up for auction with Special Auction Services of Newbury, Berkshire, on January 23. 

Boothroyd was a long serving Labour MP who, in 1992, became the first female Speaker of the House of Commons, a role she held until 2000. Upon her retirement, she was described as ‘something of a national institution’ and an ‘outstanding speaker’ by Tony Blair and John Major respectively.

A first edition of John Major’s autobiography, signed by the former Prime Minister.

Sticking to the theme of Mr Major, one of the lots from the sale is a signed first-edition autobiography of the bespectacled former Prime Minister, estimated between £100 and £150.

Other lots include the official programme for the Inauguration Ceremonies of President John F Kennedy and Vice-President Lyndon B Johnson (£300-£350), a black leather House of Commons dispatch box (£200-£300), which might get you some interesting looks should you use it on the commute.

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A ‘collection of frogs’ all belonging to Baroness Boothroyd. Kermit would have made a good Speaker we reckon.

There is also a rather pleasant waste-paper bin with a picture of a cat on it (£100-£150) and a ‘Parliamentary bottle of single malt scotch whisky, Madam Speakers Order Specially Selected Single Malt Scotch Whisky’, in a pine fitted case (£200-£300).

Lot 86: ‘A Fornasetti Milan waste-paper bin, of cylindrical form with transfer printed design of books, pussy cat and mouse, 29cm high and 26cm in diameter’.

Of particular interest to me is Lot 105, described simply as ‘a collection of frog related items’ (the collective noun of which, should you be interested, is ‘an army’). Estimated between £50-£100 (a steal if you ask me), the lot contains two Kermits, a standing paper toad with mortar board and various enamel frogs. Seemingly included in almost every lot (at least from the pictures) is a photograph of Boothroyd herself.

Lot 37, ‘Madam Speaker’s Order Specially Selected Single Malt Scotch Whisky’, also comes with a special case.

The sale, which comprises ‘items relating to the Baroness’s career as well as her home life’, will see the proceeds split between six charities. 

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