A MASSIVE Union Flag that flew from one of the ships at the battle of Trafalagar has sold at auction for £320,000.
Consigned by a vendor from Australia, the buyer has been
revealed as an American who has been collecting for the last four
decades and hopes to work with the relevant British authorities so
that the flag can be returned to the UK to go on display.
The 7ft 4in x 11ft 9in (2.23 x 3.58m) flag was sewn on board
HMS Spartiate, which, like all the British ships in the
battle, was ordered by Nelson to be flown from the jack staff, to
aid identification and prevent loss by friendly fire.
After the battle, the crew awarded the flag to Lieutenant James
Clephan in recognition of his courage.
It had passed down through his family and his descendant, who
lives in Australia, decided to consign the flag to auction at the
special Trafalgar Day sale held by maritime specialist
Charles Miller Ltd on October 21.
With little precedent to go on, Mr Miller opted for a fairly
low-key £10,000-15,000 guide. But this is the type of object the
value of which really gets decided on the day of the sale.
An unnamed national institution expressed interest in the piece
quite early on, but interest grew after the considerable level of
press coverage and, by sale day, there were bids on the book up to
"I thought it might make up to £120,000," Mr Miller told
In the event, there were several bidders up to £150,000, after
which it was a straightforward battle between a man in the room
taking bids over a phone and the successful purchaser, on the
The buyer's premium was 20 per cent premium.
By Anne Crane
Antiques Trade Gazette is the weekly bible of the fine art and antiques industry. Read articles like this every week in the Antiques Trade Gazette or ATG app. Click here to subscribe today.