Joy as Barrie casket returns to Kirriemuir

The JM Barrie 'Freedom Casket'
The JM Barrie 'Freedom Casket'

A silver casket that once belonged to novelist and playwright Sir James M Barrie is returning home to Kirriemuir after more than 80 years.

The box, which was auctioned today (Thursday) in Taunton, Somerset, has been bought by Angus Council and will go on display in the town’s museum.

It was presented to the Peter Pan author by Kirriemuir’s magistrates and council in 1930 when he received the freedom of the town and it still contains the original burgess ticket.

Overseas bidding pushed the price well beyond its £2,000 and £3,000, with the hammer price standing at £7,200. The council is contributing £1,000 towards the purchase with the balance being divided equally between the Art Fund and the National Fund for Acquisitions (NFA).

It was the first time the casket had come up for sale since it entered a private family collection in 1938, when it was bought for £56 at Southeby’s in London during a sale of the late author’s belongings.

When it was presented to Sir James, the then provost Henry Peacock described the casket as the “heart of Kirriemuir”.

Councillor Jeanette Gaul, museums spokesowoman said she is delighted the casket will be returning to the town.

She said: “The casket has been in a private collection since 1938, so I’m delighted that we were successful with its purchase at the first opportunity we had.

“On behalf of the people of Kirriemuir and Dean and the wider Angus Community, I’m delighted that the casket has returned home. The casket will be on display at Kirriemuir Museum for the public to enjoy.

“The Museum also holds a significant amount of material relating to Sir JM Barrie, including the pen with which he signed the freedom documents.”

Kirriemuir Heritage Trust was also keen to see the casket return home and earlier this week asked local bidders to throw their support behind it owns bid.