Hair today, going, going gone later
Strands of hair belonging to two master composers are expected to fetch at least £12,000 when they go under the auctioneer's hammer.
A lock of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's fair hair has been valued at an estimated £10,000 by Sotheby's auction house, while a small lock of Ludwig van Beethoven's barnet could reach £2,000 in a separate lot which also includes a printed invitation to the German's funeral.
Contained in a 19th-century gilt locket, the snip of the Austrian maestro's mane passed from his widow Contanze to the German conductor Karl Anschutz before it was given to the English composer Arthur Sommervell, whose descendent now owns the keepsake.
Mozart died in 1791, after composing classic operas such as the Magic Flute and The Marriage of Figaro, while Beethoven, known for his nine symphonies, passed away in 1827.
Locks of hair were frequently taken as keepsakes from the bodies of recently deceased composers.
The item is similar to another lock of Mozart's hair, passed down from the mistress of one of Mozart's sons, which sold in 2002 at Sotheby's for £38,240 - double the pre-sale estimate.
The pieces are on public exhibition at Sotheby's galleries in New Bond Street, London until Wednesday, ahead of the auction on Thursday.