Jack the Ripper: Auction of police items nets £18,000

Jack the Ripper newspaper illustration Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A contemporary newspaper illustration, probably showing the discovery of Catherine Eddowes

Items belonging to a police officer involved in the Jack the Ripper murders case in 1888 have sold at auction for more than five times their estimate.

PC Edward Watkins was carrying the handcuffs, truncheon, whistle and a notebook on the night he found one of the five murder victims in London.

Each lot was expected to fetch up to £800 at JP Humbert Auctioneers in Northamptonshire.

The items were bought for a total of £17,700 by a private collector.

Image caption The handcuffs fetched 10 times the lower auction estimate of £500

The serial killer, dubbed "Jack the Ripper", murdered and mutilated five women who worked as prostitutes in the Whitechapel area of London in 1888.

He was never caught but debate about his identity continues to fascinate case enthusiasts.

'Huge historical interest'

The items were each estimated to fetch between £500 and £800.

The handcuffs have been sold for £6,420, the truncheon for £3,950, the leather notebook cover for £4,450, the whistle for £2,600 and a collection of press cuttings for £280.

Jonathan Humbert, from the Towcester-based auction house, said: "It was a sensible estimate for each item, but we didn't have anything to compare it to and the results exceeded our expectations.

"Five women died and you have to be sensitive, but these items are undoubtedly of huge historical interest.

"Sometimes these unusual items just re-write the rule book."

Jack the Ripper murders, Whitechapel 1888

  • 31 August - Mary Ann Nicholls
  • 8 September - Annie Chapman
  • 30 September - Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes
  • 9 November - Mary Jane Kelly

Martha Tabram, stabbed to death on 6 August 1888, is considered by some historians to be the first victim.

Source: BBC History - Jack the Ripper

The auction house said PC Watkins was walking the beat when he found the body of Catherine Eddowes on Mitre Square on Sunday, 30 September, 1888.

She was the killer's fourth victim.

PC Watkins's personal effects were bought from his widow by a private collector in 1914 and it is the first time they have been auctioned.

The buyer wanted to remain anonymous and was going to put the items in a private museum in the UK, the auction house said.

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