Vivien Leigh Collection highlights

Hundreds of items, including diaries, family photographs, paintings and personal belongings from the entire collection of Gone With the Wind star Vivien Leigh are to be unveiled at a preview exhibition at Sotheby’s in London on September 22, prior to the sale on September 26.

Here is a round-up of some of the sale’s highlights and top lots, from a range of different valuations.

£100 and under

  • A blue woven silk evening shawl designed by Pierre Balmain (est. £50-100)
  • Four pairs of leather evening gloves (est. £50-100)Vivien Leigh's teenage notebook
  • Vivien’s teenage notebook, “Summer Term 1928” to 1931, including works of her own composition and transcriptions of her favourite poems and prose passages by authors including
    Rupert Brooke and W.B. Yeats (est. £100-150)
  • Costume designs by Motley (a theatre firm made up of three English designer-sisters) for Vivien in George Bernard Shaw’s The Doctor’s Dilemma, 1941 (est. £100-150 each)
  • Vivien’s monogrammed art bag, with the initials ‘V.O.’ (est. £80-120)

£500 and under

  • The Romeo and Juliet Cigarillos Box, commemorating Vivien and Larry’s stage production of Shakespeare’s play in New York in 1940 (est. £400-600)
  • Three unique holiday photographs of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier taken by friends in a long velvet frame (est. £150-250)
  • Larry’s 18th-century silver mug engraved with his initials and the date 12th June 1947, the year when he was knighted and the day when his knighthood appeared in the honours list (est. £300-500)A pair of vintage Gucci high ball glasses (est. £200-300)
  • A group of bar accessories, including a cocktail-shaker, a cocktail-shaker jug and an ice bucket  (est. £400-600)
  • An evening gown in ivory woven satin (est. £150-250) and Four evening clutch bags (est. £150-250)
  • Vivien’s stamp, cast in the Arts and Crafts style circa 1950 and with an intaglio engraved with V amongst foliage (est. £300-500)
  • The ‘V.L.O’ Attaché Case, stamped Asprey, circa 1955 (est. £500-700)Photograph of David Niven jumping into swimming pool
  • A photograph of David Niven jumping into a swimming pool, inscribed “Fondest Love / Niven” (est. £300-500)
  • Two albums of photographs of Vivien’s early life (est. £300-500)

£1,000 and under

  • A watercolour by Roger Kemble Furse of Vivien Leigh Reading with Tissy, a black-and-white stray adopted by Vivien in the mid-1930s (est. £1,000-1,500)
  • A scrap album complied by Vivien’s mother, Gertrude Hartley, 1940s-1960s, containing numerous press clippings (est. £600-900)

The Notley sofa-daybed

  • The Notley Sofa-Daybed, made circa 1945 (est. £800-1,200)
  • Vivien’s writing bureau, mid-18th century, acquired from Asprey in 1949 (est. £600-900) and Vivien’s desk box, early 19th century (est. £400-600)
  • Vivien’s monogrammed luggage, all monogrammed V.L.O., and two black leather luggage labels with insert name cards printed ‘Lady Olivier’ (est. £800-1,200)
  • A cartoon of “Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh” by Vicky (Victor Weisz), published around 1949 to accompany Alan Dent’s review of The School for Scandal at the Old Vic (est. £600-800)

£3,000 and under

  • A collection of awards and certificates including Vivien’s certification of nomination for ‘Best Actress’ as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (est. £1,500-2,000)

 Album of photographic stills from Gone with the Wind

  • Album of photographic stills from Gone with the Wind, circa 1939 (est. £3,000-5,000)
  • Peonies by Sir Jacob Epstein, gouache and pencil on paper (est. £1,500-2,000), which features in a photograph of Vivien on the staircase at Durham Cottage in Chelsea, London, taken in 1949
  • Vivien’s diaries, comprising a black leather-bound Smythson appointment diary, dating from 10 January 1937 to 25 November 1939, giving a unique insight into Vivien’s personal and professional life at the time she was catapulted to fame in her mid-twenties and first fell in love with Laurence Olivier (est. £2,000-3,000), and Vivien’s small brown leather Fortnum & Mason diary from 1953, embossed with ‘Vivien’ in gold on the cover and listing contact details for all her favourite friends, hotels, restaurants, theatres, jewellers and couturiers (est. £1,000-1,500)
  • A large collection of photographs of Vivien and Laurence Oliver (est. £800-1,200)

£10,000 and under

  • The Notley Mirror, a superb 18th-century carved giltwood mirror (est. £10,000-15,000)
  • A wedding present to Vivien Leigh and Laurence Oliver from Katharine Hepburn, their ‘snappy maid of honour’: an inscribed silver goblet by Georg Jensen (est. £8,000-12,000)

Georg Jensen goblet with inscription

  • A document signed “Elizabeth R” commanding Sir Thomas Heneage to pay £133 6s. 8d., to her chief almoner Richard Fletcher, Bishop of Worcester, or his assistant John Dix, as Maundy money for distribution during Holy Week, 7 April 1593 (est. £9,000-12,000)
  • First edition of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel, 1953 (est. £7,000-9,000)
  • Laurence Olivier’s working copy of Hamlet for his acclaimed 1948 film, with his annotations and extensive edits throughout, included as part of a 38 (of 40) volume set of The Works of William Shakespeare, published in London, 1893-1895 (est. £5,000-7,000)
  • The ‘Prince of Wales’ model theatre, made circa 1840 and reputedly acquired by Olivier in 1945 (est. £5,000-7,000)

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