Saving Shakespeare's Birthplace
12. Inside the auction room, 16 September 1847
The bidding for the Birthplace began at £1500, then £2,000 was offered by Mr Butler of Clapton. This rose to £2,100 taking it well beyond the committees’ price range. Then a letter was handed to auctioneer Edmund Robins offering £3000 for the property; in a surprise bid, the joint Stratford-upon-Avon and London committees had decided to offer far more money than they actually had, gambling on the belief that they would soon raise the rest in a rush of support following the sale.
Robins asked if there were any higher offers then, after a few tense moments, the property was sold to the committees, amidst 'a loud, hearty and prolonged cheer' (London Illustrated News, Sept 25 1847).
The auction room, 16 September 1847From a sketch by P W Archer Printed by London Illustrated News, 25 September 1847
This illustration of the auction room features handwritten notes listing who was present. It gives a real flavour of the atmosphere on the day.