TWO valuable pieces of Jamaican history went on the auction block in London last night a pair of silver candelabra valued at £250,000 ($34 million).
The antiques were made in 1837 and presented to the Marquess of Sligo, Howe Peter Browne, who had been governor general of Jamaica during emancipation in 1833.
While in Jamaica, he delivered an address "to The Negro Population throughout the Island of Jamaica," saying: "Our good King [William IV], who was himself in Jamaica a long time ago ... has sent me out here to take care of you, and to protect your rights; but he has also ordered me to see justice done to your owners, and to punish those who do wrong."
In particular, he warned the freed slaves, who had to serve apprenticeships with their former owners, to be "sober, honest and work well".
One of the candelabra bears the inscription: "Whatever be the fate of this Bill, all shall be Free on my Estate on the 1st August 1838", reflecting the Marquess's personal decision to free the workers on his own 20,000-acre property.
Both have idealised scenes around their bases. One shows a freed slave with one foot on a broken whip, reading from a book to a woman who is nursing a child, while an older boy plays with a goat. Previously, slaves had no say over their babies and could not own domestic animals.
One of the candelabra, from "the Negros of Jamaica," was presented to the Marquess by a delegation from the anti-slavery movement, including Louis Celeste Lecesne, a native of Jamaica who attended the first Convention of The Anti-Slavery Society in London in 1840.
The other was given by the people of Westport, after taking up a collection of £500, a fortune at the time.
The candelabra remained in the Marquess's family until 1983, when they were first sold at an auction.
The candelabra, each more than a metre high and capable of holding six candlesticks, were made by James Charles Eddington.