Dom Mintoff’s gold signet ring, chest of drawers and trademark belt were the highlights of the 762 items up for auction from the former prime minister’s estate, all selling at much higher prices than estimated.

The late Mr Mintoff’s trademark leather belt with a horse head and a horse shoe buckle and brass mounts had an auction presale estimate of between €15 and €40. It sold for a whopping €8,000.

His 18-carat gold signet ring with an inset solitaire diamond, inscribed with the monogram DM, was estimated between €1,300 and €1,600. Yesterday, it was auctioned off at €5,200.

Additionally, a Maltese olivewood chest of drawers, dating from circa 1800, with double string oval medallions and slightly damaged hoof feet, which was estimated at between €7,500 and €9,000, went under the hammer for €10,500.

Speaking to Times of Malta yesterday as the four-day sale by auction drew to a close, auctioneer at Belgravia Auction Gallery Joseph Sammut described the auction as a completely novel experience. “I would say that 95 per cent of the people present for the auction were not auction-goers. There were countless new faces. It was a wholly different category of people – not just collectors but a very specialised group of people. Naturally, what drew them to the auction gallery was the provenance of the items.”

The experienced auctioneer admitted that he lost sleep over the auction of Mr Mintoff’s private collection.

Over 2,000 people turned up for the three-day viewing of the items at Mr Mintoff’s Tarxien home last month.

“I was very worried about the prospect of handling crowds. I thought to myself that if one quarter of those people turned up at the auction gallery, I would have no idea how I was going to fit them all.

“However, it turned out that the lure of the house was quite significant – it was a shrine for them to visit.”

There were more than 200 buyers over the four-day auction. Some bought multiple items.

Only some 20 items out of 760 remained unsold – mainly a couple of rugs and some commemorative medals.

The most popular items proved to be Mr Mintoff’s personal belongings such as cufflinks, wrist watches and his walking sticks.

Weapons belonging to Mr Mintoff, including sporting rifles, were also snapped up, as were his furniture pieces.

Rustic decorative items and other artefacts, including earthenware, barrels, pottery and sieves, proved to be popular with the auction-goers, as was Mr Mintoff’s silverware.

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