Few will be unaware that 2005 is the bicentenary of Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar, given the number of celebrations and exhibitions commemorating the event.
The art and antiques world is understandably keen to
capitalise on the potential of such an historic occasion and one
result is a raft of themed Nelson- and Trafalgar-related auctions
scheduled to take place throughout the year. The first of these,
titled Nelson and the Royal Navy, took place at Bonhams Bond Street
rooms on July 5. This wide-ranging, 386-lot commemorative
extravaganza generated a hammer total of just over £1.5m with the
hoped-for 'Nelson factor' boosting prices to set new auction highs
in several different categories.
Topping the bill at £155,000, for example, and thereby
establishing a new record for a Lloyds Patriotic Fund sword, was a
cased £100 value example awarded to Captain Charles Tyler of HMS
Tonnant, part of a collection of memorabilia offered by his
Although many of the purchasers were determined private
collectors, the sale also generated institutional interest. One
major museum purchase was this 14in (36cm) carved limewood model of
the figurehead of HMS Queen Charlotte, which was the King's
flagship before HMS Victory.
One of only a handful of British examples known to have survived,
it was carved at the Royal Naval Dockyard at Chatham between
1783-1784 where it will now return having been purchased by the
Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust for £50,000.
Reports of Nelson and Trafalgar sales in Edinburgh, London,
Newbury and Lewes will appear in future issues.
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