Rare wine bottles found on building site valued at £20K

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A hoard of ‘gold’ 17th century wine bottles, unearthed on a building site in Worcestershire, are to be sold at auction, valued at £20,000.

As reported by the Antiques Trade Gazette, six ‘shaft and globe’ style bottles, thought to date to 1665-1670, were unearthed on a building site in Worcestershire in November 2019, near the Croome Estate, once home to the Earls of Coventry.

They are now being sold by specialist auctioneer BBR in South Yorkshire.

The bottles, which will be sold in sales during February, April and June, are expected to fetch a combined total of £20,000. Two of the 20cm tall bottles, which are missing their seals, are valued at £1,000 to £2,000 each, and will be sold on 2 February with a lot featuring a collection of neck fragments valued at £40-60.

Alan Blakeman of BBR told Antiques Trade Gazette: “The JCB was digging a trench for footings. As the first ‘piece’ shone in the sunshine the workman stopped to see what it was. He pulled it out and the others were there to just pluck from the clay. It’s incredible they didn’t damage them.”

Seals on two of the bottles are marked with the Coventry arms with a ducal coronet above.

It is thought the bottles could have been owned by either George 3rd Baron of Coventry (1628-80), Thomas 1st Earl of Coventry (1629-99) or George Villiers (1628-87), 2nd Duke of Buckingham and 2nd Earl of Coventry. Villiers was the son of the 1st Duke of Buckingham also called George, who was a favourite of James I. He is known to have had connections to the glass industry, owning three production facilities.

The bottles’ gold appearance is thought to be the result of a patina, often formed on glass when it has spent time buried underground.

Information coming from The Drinks Business

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