A HANDBAG made entirely from gold that ‘almost ended up in the bin’ has been found during a garage clear-up and is now expected to be sold at auction for thousands of pounds.

Two sisters were carrying out a typical garage clear out when they found a bag that seemed out of the ordinary amongst a series of old photos, letters and clutter.

Unable to make out the hallmark underneath the bag, Linda Pritchard, 61, from Denbigh, visited the optician in the hope that they would be able to provide magnifying equipment.

Linda was then told by the optician that the bag was made from 15 carat American gold.

The bag was inherited by her sister Margaret, a shop worker from Denbigh, aged 59, from a gentleman named Gwyn Jones that she used to help care for.

Mr Jones married the original owner, Dora, who was pictured on luxurious cruise ships in photos that accompanied the bag, which sat in a garage for seven years as its real value remained hidden from Margaret.

She said: “I kept Mr Jones’ things in Linda’s garage because I didn’t know what to do with them. They were someone’s personal items. They were there for a number of years until Linda wanted to clear out the garage.

“One day we went to sort it out and, as things were a bit damp, I started to throw things in the bin. We came across the bag and I just thought we would never use this, so said to Linda ‘get rid’. But she kept it. I never gave it a second thought. But later that night, I thought ‘why would Mr Jones keep this, the only thing left from his wife?’”

Linda, also from Denbigh, said: “Margaret thought the bag was junk but I wasn’t so sure. I haven’t got very good eyesight so I took it to my opticians, Saunders & Schwarz in Denbigh, and said, ‘Can you do me a favour, can you see if there’s a hallmark?’ I thought he could look at it with his magnifying equipment. He told me it was 15 carat American gold.”

Linda was flabbergasted: “It almost ended up in the bin. It could have gone to the tip.”

The bag is an Art Deco Emanuel Joseph evening bag made entirely of gold, dated 1913.

It is due to be sold by Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers with an estimated value of £3,500-£3,800.

Jane Williams, valuer for Hansons in Wales, who the sisters later turned to for advice, said: “We know from all the paperwork and images found with the bag that it belonged to Dora Jones, a wealthy socialite once married to David Archibald, of Birkdale, Southport.

“David, general secretary of the North Atlantic British Liner Committee, received an OBE in 1948 for services to the shipping industry.

“The bag comes with amazing provenance including numerous photos of the couple aboard RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth, which is why we believe it may have been used on glamorous journeys between Southampton and New York where the cruise ships operated.

“The provenance includes letters of congratulation on Mr Archibald’s OBE and, sadly, letters of condolence. He died suddenly, aged 61, in 1963 after his car was in collision with a keep-left sign. A newspaper cutting reveals he had a heart attack at the wheel.”

“All the letters and pictures of happy times aboard RMS Queen Mary, which operated from 1936 to 1967, and RMS Queen Elizabeth, which entered service as an ocean liner in 1946, were treasured by Dora, who later remarried.”

Linda picks up the story: “Dora married Mr Jones, who used to be the attendance officer at our school – he told us he never had to visit our parents because we were good girls!

“Later Margaret became a care worker for him and got to know the couple well. Eventually Dora died and then, about eight years ago, Mr Jones passed away. It was his wishes that everything in the house was left to my sister.

The sisters are intrigued by the bag’s glamorous history: “We grew up in a council house where money was very, very tight,” said Linda. “Our father was crippled by arthritis. We were very poor and never had anything.

“When you look though the photos and menus from the cruise ships you see how the other half lived, the rich and famous. It’s nice to think we knew someone who’d been on the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.”

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “It’s a wonderful find and a wonderful story.

“Collectors around the world would love to own this bag and, who knows, it may even end up back on a luxury cruise ship, gracing the arm of a society lady.”

The gold evening bag will be sold at Hansons’ Fine Art Jewellery Auction on Wednesday, October 10.

The sale is part of Hansons’ Bishton Hall Country House and Fine Art Auction, which runs from October 10-15.

To find out more call Hansons Auctioneers on 01283 733988.