Margaret Thatcher handbags and effects set for auction

Lots including signed speeches and wedding dress on sale at Christie’s on December 15th

Handbags owned by late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, whose apocryphal use of them to bludgeon opponents gave rise to the term "handbagging", are to be auctioned after a museum said talks about adding items from her wardrobe to its collection had led nowhere.

The bags are among 350 “historic and personal lots”, also including clothes, signed copies of speeches, Thatcher’s wedding dress, her red prime ministerial dispatch bag and items of jewellery, that the auctioneer Christie’s said on Tuesday would be offered for sale at its London showroom on December 15th and later online.

Long-serving prime minister

Ms Thatcher, who died in 2013, was the longest-serving prime minister of Britain in the 20th century and is still the only woman ever to have held the office, but is remembered by many on the left of British politics and further afield as highly divisive.

The term "handbagging" was coined in the 1980s by Thatcher's fellow Conservative member of parliament Julian Critchley to describe her style in cabinet meetings, the Oxford English Dictionary says, defining it as an action by a woman to "verbally attack or crush (a person or idea) ruthlessly and forcefully".


Not appropriate

The auction was announced after London's Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), Britain's main repository of historic articles of clothing, said in a statement that it did not deem the articles appropriate for its collection.

“Several years ago, a general discussion took place to explore whether some pieces from the wardrobe of Baroness Thatcher might be added to the V&A’s collection,” the museum added later, in a statement sent to Reuters.

“These conversations did not develop.”