Bonhams to sell sponsorship to the soundtrack of New Year

  • EDINBURGH, United Kingdom
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  • July 27, 2009

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Robert Burns' Auld Lang Syne original manuscript and lyrics at Bonhams' auction in Edinburgh

Patronage of Robert Burns’s original manuscript and lyrics to Auld Lang Syne go under the hammer at 10th Made in Scotland Sale

A bidder at Bonhams annual Made in Scotland Sale, held in conjunction with the National Trust for Scotland (18-21 August), will have the unique opportunity to ‘sponsor’ one of the world’s most popular songs: Auld Lang Syne. The work of Scotland’s favourite son, Robert Burns, the sale is expected to attract the attention of Scots around the world, with the fragment of the manuscript and lyrics expected to reach £50,000.

This unusual lot has become available as part of an ambitious fundraising scheme by National Trust for Scotland which is hoping to raise £1 million during 2009 to create a new museum project dedicated to Burns in his native Ayrshire to commemorate the 250th anniversary of his birth. The new sponsor of this rare Scottish artefact will then be in the privileged position of having safeguarded the manuscript within the museum – their good deed recognised by the installation of a plaque bearing their name as its patron.

Auld Lang Syne was written by Burns in 1788, his poetic words set to the tune of a traditional folk song. Since then, it has risen to international prominence and is known throughout the English-speaking world. Written in Scottish dialect, the title literally means “Old Long Since” or, more idiomatically, “Days Gone by”. In recent years it has come to serve as an anthem to celebrate the start of the new year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day.

Miranda Grant, Managing Director for Bonhams Scotland comments that: “Bonhams are very excited about this new relationship with the National Trust for Scotland. We feel that the Scottish Sale is a marvellous vehicle to find a new patron for Auld Lang Syne as it has a strong appeal to anyone with a particular affection for Scotland and the Arts.”

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum Director Nat Edwards said: “It is truly awe-inspiring that the original manuscript on which the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne were first penned will now help to make possible the construction of the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, as part of the final fundraising push for the remaining £3.8 million needed for the project.

“Our plans for the design of the building focus on celebrating the work and life of the famous bard – and it’s wonderful to think that Burns’ own creation all those hundreds of years ago will help us in our creation of a fully interactive, stimulating learning environment in which people can share their experiences of Robert Burns.

“I’m confident that we will find a kind-hearted lover of Burns who will ‘sponsor’ the manuscript and help us to achieve our vision. I look forward very much to meeting with them when the time comes.”

This tenth anniversary sale will encompass lots from a range of different departments at Bonhams including art, jewellery and silver. It will also include a whisky dimension for the first time in many years.

The jewellery section will include fine examples of Scottish agate jewellery, luckenbooths, an impressive selection of plaid brooches, a collection of pieces by Malcolm Appleby and a memorial stickpin for John Brown, presented by Queen Victoria. The latter was designed by Her Majesty following Brown’s death in 1883 for presentation to her Highland servants and cottagers to be worn by them on the anniversary of his death, with a mourning scarf and pins. This small historical artefact is expected to sell for around £700.

Other highlights include Pink Clover, a large Wemyss Ware pig attributed to Joseph Nekola which is expected to fetch £1200 and a Jacobite airtwist wine glass with drawn bowl which is estimated at around £800.

The Scottish Sale
18-21 August 2009

Catalogues are published on our website and may be ordered (£10) on 01666 502 200.

For more information please contact Francesca Tarrant at The Communication Group on 0207 630 1411 or email

About Bonhams

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son and Neale UK. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America and in August 2003, Goodmans, a leading Australian fine art and antiques auctioneer with salerooms in Sydney, joined the Bonhams Group of Companies. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street, and Knightsbridge, and a further seven throughout the UK. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Boston in the USA; and Switzerland, France, Monaco, Australia, Hong Kong and Dubai. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 57 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, go to (01-08) For other press releases, go to

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