285-year-old Lemon From 1739 Sells at Auction for Astronomical Price

A 285-year-old lemon became a surprising treasure, fetching nearly $1,800 at Brettells Auctioneers & Valuers in Newport, England. Discovered inside a 19th-century cabinet, this 1739 citrus sold on Jan. 16, outshining the cabinet's $40 sale.

The ancient lemon can be viewed on the auction house's Instagram. Auctioneer David Brettell took a chance, hoping to amuse by listing it with a modest estimate. "We thought we’d have a bit of fun and put [the lemon] in the auction with an estimate of £40-£60," he said.

bowl of lemons

Despite its age, the lemon's condition is remarkable, featuring a deep-brown hue and an inscription. It was a gift from Mr. P Lu Franchini to Miss E Baxter in 1739, possibly brought from India as a romantic gesture.

A competitive auction pushed the price to £1,400, about $1,800, making it a historic sale. The lemon predates notable figures and events, being older than Thomas Jefferson and preceding the French and Indian War.

The sale's total, including extra costs, reached £1,400. This event highlights the rarity of such ancient food preservation, with Brettell noting, "You'll never see an object like this at auction again."

The lemon's age gives it a unique place in history, being four years older than Thomas Jefferson, born in 1743. This detail underscores the extraordinary nature of the auctioned item, linking it directly to significant historical timelines and figures.