Queen Victoria's tiny wooden postbox discovered - with Christmas card inside

Mark Laban/Hansons/Cover Images

A tiny wooden postbox belonging to Queen Victoria has been discovered - complete with a Christmas card inside.

The 140-year-old table letterbox, used for the famous royal's post at Osborne House, her Isle of Wight holiday home, shows how much she valued sending mail, according to Hansons Auctioneers.

The late 19th-Century curved wooden box, which features her royal cypher 'VR' (Victoria Regina) was found in a Surrey cottage crammed with unusual antiques. It's now set for auction on January 28 with an estimate of $4,760-$7,140 (£4,000-£6,000).

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: "It's a first-class find fit for a queen dating back to circa 1880. We can only imagine the tone and content of the notes the queen must have placed inside but one thing we can be certain of is that she enjoyed sending letters and cards."

Chris Kirkham, associate director of Hansons London, where the letterbox will be offered at auction, said: "I discovered it during a routine home visit at a cottage in Surrey. I was called in to assess items gathered by a keen antiques collector over a lifetime.

"It was purchased decades ago by the seller's grandfather. He lived on the Isle of Wight. We understand he acquired it at a Carisbrooke sale which offered items relating to Osborne House in 1944 or 1945."

The seller, from London, said: "My grandfather collected amazing objects over the course of his life. He was fascinated by antiques and collectables. We think the post box may have been given as a festive gift as we found a Christmas card inside. It's hard to part with family heirlooms but this royal item deserves to be seen and enjoyed."

Queen Victoria's letterbox will be offered by Hansons London on January 28.