By Alison Flood
Antiquarians voice growing anger at the breaking up of original letters by famous names from Queen Victoria to Charles Dickens and even Napoleon
Love historic documents signed by figures such as Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens? Love luxury handbags? A new company is targeting this novel crossover market with exclusive bags containing snippets of authentic manuscripts by famous figures – to the fury of antiquarian booksellers, who say they are destroying cultural assets.
Sekrè, a German-Swiss startup, is selling the “luxury handbags with a secret” – the secret being that they contain fragments of original documents by the likes of Queen Victoria (a letter to the field marshal Henry Lord Hardinge from 1855), King Frederick William III (a love letter from 1829), Empress Maria Theresia of Austria ( authorising the deployment of her army in 1756) and Dickens (a handwritten letter from 1851). Costing up to €6,800 (£6,000), many of the lines have already sold out.