Mystery surrounds how a portrait of one of Preston’s most famous sons ended up being auctioned by someone in the Netherlands.Advertisement
The bronze memorial plaque is of Joseph Livesey, who founded the Temperance movement, and according to Preston historians was with Preston City Council for safekeeping.
The CataWiki site listed the plaque, which is ‘of an unknown gentleman’ for auction.
Made by WN Simm the plaque is one of four of Livesey and was believed to have been lost.
Concerned historians contacted Blog Preston about the Livesey plaque, saying they believe they still belong to the British National Temperance League, which has now become Alcohol Concern.
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Plaques were installed in 1932, to mark 100 years since Livesey’s teetotal pledge, and were put up in Victoria Road, Walton-le-Dale, his premises off Lune Street/Friargate and on the exterior of Livesey’s house in Church Street.
This plaque, which was taken into storage by the city council following the demolition of Livesey’s house in the 1980s, is believed to be the one that’s turned up on the auction site.
Aidan Turner-Bishop of the Preston and South Ribble Civic Trust said: “We tried very hard to trace what happened to the plaque.
“We were told that it was store in Argyle Road Council depot from where it ‘disappeared’. Could this be the same plaque that has been auctioned from a Dutch-seeming seller?
“How did a dated and clearly signed Simm bronze plaque of Joseph Livesey find its way to a Wikiauction sale?
“Is this a police matter, one wonders, or is the provenance trail too obscure to match the missing and sold plaques?”
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Blog Preston contacted the city council who said they couldn’t verify the plaque but it did match what was contained within the Harris.
A spokeswoman said: “The Harris plaque has the same signature on the right hand side.
“Without going and physically examining it, we can’t officially verify it but it looks much the same as ours.”
The signature on the plaques is that of W N Simm who was deputy curator at the Harris in the 1930s and who sculpted the plaques.
The plaque was sold on the auction site by Martin66 for £69,