Robert Burns cast used to create a public plaque could make up to £10k at auction for Morecambe woman

A one-off cast of the face of Robert Burns, based on the famous portrait of the poet by Alexander Nasmyth, is up for auction ahead of Burns Night.

Friday, 14th January 2022, 3:45 pm
A cast of Robert Burns' face, by Robert Shields, is up for auction ahead of Burns Night.
A cast of Robert Burns' face, by Robert Shields, is up for auction ahead of Burns Night.

The cast was used to create a bronze plaque for a new shelter in a park in a town near Edinburgh.

Experts at 1818 Auctioneers, on the Cumbria-Lancashire border, estimate it to be worth between £7,000 to £10,000.

It is being sold by the granddaughter of the talented artist, stone mason and painter who carved it, Robert Callum Shields. A pillar of the community, Robert worked for the local council and lived in Bellshill near Glasgow. He died in 1966.

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Robert C Shields in his Masonic regalia.

The vendor, Linda Briscoe, who now lives in Heysham, says the Burns plaque was unveiled in Prestonpans in January 1959 to commemorate the bi-centenary of the birth of the renowned Scottish poet.

“For a long time, it hung on the wall of the large house where my grandparents lived. As is the Scottish tradition, my family moved into the house when Robert died to look after Mary, his widow. When my mother died, I left the house and moved to a much smaller property.

“I’ve known the portrait from being a very small child. It’s now time for the cast to be appreciated by someone else. I would love to think it’s new owner will be raising a dram to it, to toast the great poet, Robbie Burns on January 25,” adds Linda.

The plaque is being auctioned as part of 1818 Auctioneers live, online sale of antiques Vintage and Collectibles, which closes on Sunday January 23.

Robert Shields with his wife Mary.

Robert Shields was also a Freemason and member of Langside Lodge, part of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. There are two medallions and cufflinks up for sale with 1818 Auctioneers in an online jewellery auction live between Thursday February 17 to Sunday March 6.

A large silver jewel, signifying Robert was a senior deacon, and white metal and enamel Masonic cufflinks could make between £70 to £100. And a nine carat Masonic presentation jewel from his Lodge, recognising his chairmanship, could make between £120 to £180.

Also, up for auction is Robert’s World War One bronze coloured oakleaf. Robert was a sergeant in the Royal Fusiliers and the oakleaf signifies that he was specifically mentioned in despatches. It is being auctioned in the firm’s militaria sale that goes live on Thursday February 17.

For more information, please go online here or call Bill Nelson on 015395 66201.