Discovered on a stall in Portobello Road is this fascinating auction poster of 1815 announcing the forthcoming sale of household furniture and effects that once belonged to a bankrupt called T. Hunter. Research in Norfolk County Record Office produced nothing about Mr Hunter, although I was luckier with Robert Cruso, who was a prominent King’s Lynn auctioneer at this time. Indeed his name is preserved in the present firm of valuers and surveyors, Cruso and Wilkin of King’s Lynn, which was established in 1756 and now claims to be one of the oldest auction houses in the UK.
However, the auctioneer and his unusual name aren’t the only features that stand out in this poster. Some of items listed for sale are unusual, to say the least. Among the usual mirrors, chests of drawers and pictures can be found a ‘compound universal microscope in mahogany case complete’, a ‘full size double barrel Air Pump’, and most intriguing of all, an ‘Electrifying Machine’. These items prompt the questions; who exactly was T. Hunter, and what was he was doing with these scientific instruments?Continue reading