Marie-Antoinette's travel bag goes for royal ransom

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Marie-Antoinette's travel bag goes for royal ransom
A travel bag belonging to the ill-fated French queen Marie-Antoinette sells for more than five times its estimate in an auction of royal memorabilia near her one-time home at the Palace of Versailles. © Courtesy of Maison Osenat.

VERSAILLES (AFP).- A travel bag belonging to the ill-fated French queen Marie-Antoinette sold for more than five times its estimate in an auction of royal memorabilia near her one-time home at the Palace of Versailles.

A large embroidered serviette used during the coronation of the Austrian-born monarch -- who lost her head during the French Revolution -- also went for several times its estimate.

The Osenat auction house said that there had been fierce bidding late Sunday "both in the room, over the telephone and on the internet" for the relics of France's most iconic queen.

The leather travel bag with the studded "Queen's room number 10" inscription went for 43,750 euros ($47,600), having had an estimate of between 8,000 and 10,000 euros.

The damask serviette embroidered with the royal fleurs de lys insignia and leaf crowns with a bouquet of roses at its centre, went for 14,500 euros.

Marie-Antoinette had fond memories of the coronation ceremony in Reims cathedral in 1775, writing to her mother in Vienna, "it's an amazing thing to be so well received two months after the revolt" over high bread prices.

Ironically, it was her supposed insistence that the starving peasants eat cake -- "Let them eat brioche" -- that would later help seal her fate and that of the French monarchy, although there is no evidence that Marie-Antoinette actually said that.

A lock of hair from her husband, Louis XVI, who also lost his head on the guillotine, went under the hammer for 4,000 euros. The couple are still regarded as martyr saints to French monarchists, with the king's hair kept inside a medallion of rock crystal in the shape of a heart.

© Agence France-Presse

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