Published 31st May 2013
As one of the nation's most iconic and significant heroes, any items relating to Lord Nelson are extremely popular. Buyers will no doubt be eager to obtain an original signature of Lord Nelson and have a rare opportunity of obtaining it on an Admiralty order relating to the maintenance of ships in the fleet (MA13/274). Signed Nelson Bronte, in reference to his title as The Duke of Bronte, the distinctive handwriting will attract international interest with a pre-sale estimate of between £4,000 and £6,000.
Though HMS Victory is preserved today, she was in need of restoration at the turn of the century. The task of restoring her to Trafalgar state was given to the maritime artist and archaeologist Harold Wyllie (1880-1973), son of the Victorian maritime artist William Wyllie (1851-1931).
Sections of timber were taken from HMS Victory and two such pieces that have lead different lives over the years now come together in the same sale.
During the First World War, a young police officer seconded to Plymouth Dockyard fire brigade, acquired a small section of decorative timber from HMS Victory (MA13/127) that has been kept within the family ever since. Retaining some faint traces of original gesso and decoration, it still invokes the history and importance that HMS Victory played.
Another section of timbers taken from the ship were presented to Harold Wyllie to produce a commemorative model of HMS Victory (MA13/325) in her 1780 commission. This model was displayed in the Royal Academy in 1912 and sold to the present owner's family during an estate sale in 1936. Together with two letters of provenance from Harold Wyllie himself, the model set with silver sales has a fantastic history and will be sought after by maritime collectors.
The spirit of sail and exploration survives within the English psyche today. It was there in the period of Nelson and 100 years later during Shackleton's Polar expeditions.
Ships fixtures and fitting have always had a strong following and already several items have generated pre-sale interest. The Georgian mahogany maritime themed tea table (MA13/149) is an interesting piece of period furniture. Only high ranking officers would have been allowed to re-create some home comforts aboard ship, despite the harsh conditions experienced by crew on Royal Naval ships in the late 18th century.
Perhaps one of the most desirable pieces for maritime enthusiasts is one of the several cannons consigned to the sale. Even a small maritime signal cannon (MA13/147) will tempt bidders with an estimate of £800-£1,000 and for the more serious collector, a late 18th century bow chaser cannon, with an estimate of between £4,000 and £6,000.
As one of the only auctioneers in the country to hold dedicated specialist maritime auctions, Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood provide another opportunity to meet the specialist requirements of vendors and buyer alike.For further information about this and other maritime sales, please contact Brian Goodison-Blanks.