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The idea of a lottery is by no means a new idea. A letter by Queen Elizabeth I describing a 16th Century Lottery is going up for auction in London. The original lottery prize of £5,000 outlined in the letter is the equivalent of $1.3m US dollars today. The lottery was drawn in 1559, three years after tickets began to be sold. The 16th century letter is expected to fetch £20,000 at auction. The article below as .reported by the

Letter outlining Britain’s first lottery up for auction

The British tradition of national lottery has been traced back to the 16th century — when a jackpot of £5,000 was up for grabs and participants had to wait three years to find out if they were winners.

A letter has emerged from Queen Elizabeth I, written in 1566, which gives instructions for collecting money, commanding that persons of ‘good trust’ be entrusted with the prizes.

The letter was written to Sir John Spencer, advising of 400,000 lots, each costing 10 shillings, with prizes to be paid in a combination of gold and merchandise, including tapestries, linens and fine fabrics.

The jackpot of £5,000 is equivalent to £850,000 pounds today (US$1.3 million), and part of the money raised from ticket sales went to good causes, as is the case in today’s lottery.

The letter states: ‘Where we have com[m]anded a ceratine carte of a Lotterie to be published by our Shirif of Countie in the principall townes of the same…’ And continues: ‘…it is expedient to have somme persons appointed of good trust to receave such particular sommes as our subjects shall of their owne free disposition be ready to deliver upon the said lotterie.’

Monies raised, it states, shall be ’employed to good and publique acts and beneficially for o[u]r Realme and o[u]r Subjects.’

The letter states that out of every pound sterling, Spencer was allowed sixpence to pay the collectors.

It also stated that he was to issue books of numbers and tickets.

As a final incentive to Spencer, for every £500 pounds sent to London, a further 50 shillings was promised to him.

The draw was not held until three years later 1569, due to a lack of support and the logistics in selling the tickets around the country.

This lottery died out but there were similar draws held between 1750 and 1826.

The letter, which is signed with Elizabeth’s distinctive flourishing signature, is expected to sell for £20,000 – four times the original jackpot — at auction.

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