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Poet Coleridge's family home contents fetch more than expected at auction

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The contents of a house where 19th century English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge often stayed were on Tuesday sold for nearly half a million pounds more than expected in an auction that attracted bids from around the world.

The day-long sale, which was organised by auction house Sotheby's, was expected to bring in one million pounds (1.87 million dollars, 1.5 million euros), but managed to total 1.49 million pounds, including buyers' premiums.

The auction, held in Ottery St Mary, Devon, southwest England, featured over 500 items, including a pedal-powered rickshaw, and two black caps worn by judges in the 19th century while they were pronouncing the death penalty.

One item, a family portait by Charles and Edwin Landseer, fetched 84,000 pounds, including the buyers' premium, making it the most expensive item sold -- the oil painting had been expected to go for 30,000 pounds.

The rest of the items were sold to a room full of bidders, along with those who indicated their interest over the 15 telephone lines provided.

The house, which sits up a tree-lined drive in a country town, is a Grade Two listed building, which means it is of special interest to the public, and warrants every effort to maintain it, and was home to seven generations of the poet's family.

Coleridge, the poet, was said to be a frequent visitor to the house, and apparently had his own favourite bedroom there.

The extensive grounds, which were in his day owned by his elder brother, have been home to poets, artists, soldiers, bishops and judges -- at one point, two British High Court judges, a Lord Chief Justice of England, a member of Parliament, and the Executive Secretary of NATO all successively lived there.



AFP 242004 GMT 10 06

COPYRIGHT 2006 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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