A very rare collection of personal etchings by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert is expected to sell for £50,000.

The Royal couple took up etching in 1840 and there are only believed to be a small number of their pieces in public hands.

Under the guidance of the Royal portrait painter Sir George Hayter, the Royals drew a wide range of subjects from medieval battles to their dogs and children.

But in 1847, royal reporter Jasper Tomsett Judge caused a scandal when he managed to acquire 60 unauthorised prints for £5 from an employee of a local printer.

Judge had hoped to sell the prints at an exhibition and produced a catalogue, but Queen Victoria was infuriated when news of the sale emerged.

A wave of lawsuits and injunctions were launched and the proposed exhibition and sale never took place.

Very few etchings by either Royal exist outside of the private collections at Windsor and the British Museum as a result of the uproar.

Auction house Dominic Winter has now unearthed a collection of 80 etchings – one of only three known sets.

The presentation album, which Queen Victoria gave to close friend Sir Theodore Martin, will go under the hammer on May 11 in Cirencester with a guide price of £30,000 to £50,000.

They remain in the possession of the Martin family.

Chris Albury, auctioneer at Dominic Winter, said: “Being one of just three sets, it is incredibly rare and certainly the only one in the public domain to come up for sale.

“One can see the Queen grappling with her etchings. It shows the full progress from a novice into quite a fine artist.

“Over the course of a number of years, Victoria and Albert had become interested in etching. The album is a collection of 80 of the 87 which they created.

“It was given to Sir Theodore Martin, who was a close friend of the Queen. She gave him the job of writing a biography of Prince Albert following his death.

“Martin’s wife Helena Faucit was an actress who the Queen had seen perform.

“They were very close and when the Queen toured Wales she actually visited them. The etchings are all bound into album.

“When Sir Theodore Martin died, it stayed in his estate. Some of the etchings are very poignant.

“It is good to know the skills our monarchs have other than ruling over us and the Queen Victoria was a very talented artist.

“The album crosses into the art world. It isn’t just royal memorabilia and we expect a lot of interest.”

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