Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
BERLIN – The battered WWI sandals of famed British soldier T.E. Lawrence, known internationally as Lawrence of Arabia, are slated go on sale along with some of his other prized items on Tuesday at Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers in Etwall, England.
“The appearance of Lawrence’s sandals on an auction was initially accepted with reservations, because we see from time to time items which are presented as if they belonged to him,” former Israeli diplomat Jacob Rosen- Koenigsbuch told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “But a close scrutiny by longtime collectors and experts tends to agree that the sandals and other items are genuine, and we know who kept those items through the years. In this case, the owner died last year at the age of 80.”
Rosen-Koenigsbuch was ambassador to Jordan from 2006 to 2009. He is one of the world’s leading experts on T.E. Lawrence.
Hansons Auctioneers owner Charles Hanson told The Express
newspaper: “We understand the sandals were worn by the great man himself.
Though in a delicate condition, they are remarkable survivors from almost a century ago. They must have faced rocky and sandy terrain and may be war-weary.”
The remarkable Lawrence find was discovered in a plastic bag along with books and photographs that were given to Rodney Havelock Walker. The sandals and other cherished items could secure more than $4,000 for the sellers.
Lawrence had a close relationship with the Walker family. He gave them a rare copy of his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom. British media reports said Walker was christened in Lawrence’s own “white lace christening robe.”
The chain of custody of Lawrence’s items went from Walker to another family, which has now decided to auction the goods.
Lawrence’s daredevil exploits during his desert insurgency against the Ottomans were depicted in the blockbuster 1962 Oscar-winning Hollywood film starring Peter O’Toole.
The British officer – a pan-Arabist nationalist and a Zionist – played a key role in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire’s army in the Middle East war theater. Lawrence wrote in 1909 about Ottoman-controlled Palestine: “The sooner the Jews farm it the better: their colonies are bright spots in a desert.”
In a rarely noted 1920 article titled “The Changing East,” Lawrence wrote of the Jewish biblical connection to Israel. For him, “the Jewish experiment” to create a homeland was “a conscious effort, on the part of the least European people in Europe, to make head against the drift of the ages, and return once more to the Orient from which they came.”