In a bizarrely fortuitous turn of fate, a small mystery was solved earlier this year through the literal cracking of a case. Jennifer Grant, United Kingdom resident and devoted fan of the mystery genre, unknowingly acquired an item of great significance in 2006 when she purchased a used, battered old traveling trunk…little did she then suspect that the trunk would turn out to contain a precious gemstone treasure once belonging to one of the most famed mystery writers of all time: the illustrious Agatha Christie!
Christie is the famed creator of such brilliant sleuths as the mustachioed Hercule Poirot, a Belgian former police officer, and Miss Marple, an elderly spinster of unparalleled insight and instinct, who have each starred in such such popular titles as “The Mirror Crack’d” and “Murder on the Orient Express.” The writer has sold roughly 2 billion copies of her novels, and has even been listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling novelist of all time.
In 2006, Grant attended a sale of Christie’s belongings from Greenway, her historical house in Devon, England. There Grant purchased an old traveling trunk for £100, one of Christie’s more affordable pieces at the sale, which Grant believed did not hold much more than a merely sentimental value. Upon arrival and inspection of the trunk at her own home, however, Grant was surprised to discover that it contained (unbeknownst to the sellers) a small and keyless lockbox within.
For four years, the lockbox proved an insoluble enigma and remained shut tight and impregnable. Finally, when Grant was having some construction work done on her house in 2010, she asked one of the builders if he could pry it open for her with a crowbar. The lockbox gave way, and revealed a treasure beyond anything that Grant had imagined.
…A literal treasure, the lockbox turned out to contain a crocheted bag holding 35 gold sovereigns and 17 half-sovereigns, which were nothing compared to the glittering diamond items Grant found inside a small cardboard box alongside the gold. A highly personal treasure of Christie’s, both a diamond buckle brooch and impressive triple-diamond engagement ring were believed to have been inherited by Christie from her mother. In her memoirs, Christie referred to these pieces as:
“My mother’s valuable jewellery [which] consisted of ‘my diamond buckle’, ‘my diamond crescent’ and ‘my diamond engagement ring’…Madge was to have the diamond crescent, and I was to have the diamond buckle.”
The lockbox was also inscribed with the initials of Christie’s mother, Clara Margaret Miller, on its exterior. Though Grant wore these items occasionally over the past four years, she has decided to put them up for sale to go to someone who will love them even more. They have been estimated by Bonhams, where they will be going up for auction on October 8, to sell for £3,000-5,000 for the ring and £6,000-8,000 for the brooch.
For a treasure that was originally fetched in a deceptively humble £100 package, through a series of happenstances and twists of fate, this may have become Agatha Christie’s last laugh.