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Last updated at 16:23 BST, Tuesday, 05 July 2011

Thatcher handbag sold for US$ 40,000


01 July 2011

A handbag belonging to the former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was sold for US$ 40,000 at a charity auction in London. The leather bag was on her arm during Cold War-era negotiations with the former US president, Ronald Reagan.

Gabriel Gatehouse

Margaret Thatcher's handbag

This handbag was used by Margaret Thatcher for over 30 years


Click to hear the report:


She may have styled herself as the Iron Lady, but in fact it was this shiny black leather accessory that became her most iconic trademark. A member of her cabinet once said that she used the handbag not as a shield but as a weapon.

Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, the word 'handbagging' has entered the English language to describe the former prime minister's abrasive style in dismissing those she disagreed with or who incurred her displeasure.

This particular bag, made by the firm Asprey of Bond Street in London, was used by Margaret Thatcher for over 30 years. It was large enough to hold state papers when required.

Partly because of this, the handbag was expected to fetch up to US$ 160,000. In the event it went for only a quarter of that sum. Forty grand is still quite a lot of money for a purse, but could it be that the Iron Lady's handbag is finally losing some of its power?

Gabriel Gatehouse, BBC News


Click to hear the vocabulary:


have styled herself

have presented herself as

Iron Lady

strong willed woman

iconic trademark

an object that is famously connected with a particular person


telling off, punishing

abrasive style

manner that can cause discomfort to others


not listening to

incurred her displeasure

made her angry or upset

state papers

official documents

to fetch up to

to reach up to


(slang) one thousand dollars or pounds

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