Shropshire Star

Mystery bidder buys 285-year-old lemon for £1,400

A Shropshire auction house has sold a petrified lemon found in an old Chinese chest for more than £1,400.

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The lemon that fetched $1,400 at auction

The 285-year-old fruit dates back to 1739 and came to Brettells Auctioneers in Newport via a house clearance.

Auctioneer David Brettell said initially they thought the lemon was a curiosity that came from India but now believes it may have been a gift handed by an Italian love interest to a lady doing a grand tour of Europe.

The lemon, which is dried out, is inscribed with the message 'Mr P Lu Franchini Nov 4 1739 to Miss E Baxter'.

Mr Brettell they did this clearance and found the fruit in one of the drawers of an old Chinese chest, which dates from far later than the lemon.

"We first thought it came from India because of its shape but thinking about it again, I've a feeling that Mr Franchini may have given the lemon to this Miss Baxter while she was on the grand tour, perhaps visiting Italy."

He said that regardless of the provenance of the lemon, it had attracted interest from as far afield as Maine in the USA and Moldova.

There were 35 bidders in the end when the lemon went for auction last month, but it went to a unknown British collector who paid a total of £1,416 including auctioneer's fees.