Next week, on the 18th January, Bonhams the auctioneers are holding an interesting sale at their London salerooms. The Gentleman’s Library Sale is offering some very eclectic items but some are of interest to us. There are four piece of Nelson Memorabilia, and I thought you might like to see them, especially as we know that Frank Austen, Jane Austen’s brother was very highly thought of by the Admiral.
The first is a snuff-box thought to have been owned by Nelson and which was given by him to his secretary, George Unwin.
The box, made of tortoiseshell composition, is decorated with a view of the incomparable Amalfi coast, contains a note written by George Unwin’s son:
My Father had either lost his own snuff box on going ashore or in some shop in Palermo and upon mentioning the circumstances at Lady Hamilton’s table where Lord Nelson was one of the party his Lordship handed over to him this identical box and desired him to keep it until he could get a better one.
Next is another of those glass paintings, similar in style to the ones we saw commemorating the death of Princess Charlotte earlier in the week.
This one commemorates Nelson’s funeral. To be strictly accurate the glass painting shows Nelson’s coffin lying in state at Greenwich, prior to the funeral. The inscription on the painting is as follows:
Representation of the BODY of the Late Illustrious ADMIRAL LORD NELSON laying in STATE in the Painted Hall in Greenwich Hospital
The next item is one I covet: a small pearlware commemorative bowl, circa 1805:
It is inscribed with Nelson’s famous message to the fleet, given just before the Battle of Trafalgar: England Expects Every Man To Do His Duty
And finally, a very special mourning ring:
This is reputed to have been given to Surgeon Beattie, the man who attended Nelson when he was dying on HMS Victory. The sale catalogue tell us that:
Beattie, a native of Eskdale was buried in Canonbie Churchyard in Dumfries. Acquired by Dr Carlyle of Langholm, Dumfries, from a patient and thence from him to Mr Alex Scott of Arkinholm and then by descent.
The catalogue also remarks that:
Some 58 original recipients are listed for these mourning rings, although slight differences in the style of examples surviving, suggest that more may have been made. Two similar examples are in the National Maritime Museum collection.
The sale estimate is between £8,000 and £12,000. Last March a similar ring sold at Bonhams for £14,400.