The rare First World War German ship’s bell featured in ATG No 2133 has found a very suitable home – the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
They paid a below-estimate £5000 for the bell from SMS
Grosser Kurfürst (Great Elector), which bombarded Hartlepool
in 1914, also fought at Jutland in 1916 and at the end of the war
was interned at Scapa Flow but scuttled with the rest of the German
fleet in 1919.
It was bought at the Atlantic Crossing
Auctions sale in Southampton on March 22-23 and will
be going into the new HMS Hear My Story Galleries at the NMRN in
the coming months. The galleries recall 100 years of the RN from
1914-2014 and include a special First World War exhibition entitled
Racing to War, the Royal Navy and 1914.
For many years the bell lay almost forgotten in a Bristol
garden, after the ship itself had been salvaged but broken up at
Rosyth in 1938, and it was bought then by the present vendor.
The NMRN said: "We had heard about the bell, but the article in
the ATG was a very timely reminder. We had a buyer
in the room - the director general heroically volunteered to go and
bid in person."
The NMRN have been very busy at auction it seems. At
Nicholas Mellors' sale on February 27 they
paid £2600 (estimate £2500-4000) for a bronze portrait bust of Sir
Philip Watts after being tipped off by the saleroom that it was
coming up. Sir Philip (1846-1926) was a British naval architect,
famous for his design of the revolutionary Elswick cruiser and HMS
In 1905 First Sea Lord John Fisher's Committee on Designs in
London was already thrashing out the plans that would overhaul the
RN. Fisher assembled a committee of distinguished seasoned naval
officers and eminent civilian scientists and industrialists such as
Sir Philip, who became director of naval construction at The Royal
Ship Yards at Portsmouth. Sir Philip went on to be instrumental in
saving HMS Victory in the 1920s (now owned by the
The sculpture, 5ft 4in (1.62m) high overall including marble
base and oak plinth, with bronze 2ft 3in (69cm) high, is dated
1927. It was created by John Angel (1881-1960), a British-born
NMRN director general, Prof Dominic Tweddle, said: "For other
reasons we have bought two pictures from
Bonhams recently; one of them of HMS
Pique by Thomas Schetky. Pique ran into
a rock off Newfoundland with the returning Governor General of
Canada on board. The ship then sailed home with the rock stuck in
it. The rock was then removed and can still be seen in the
Dockyard. Our painting was one of a pair commissioned by the
Governor General. The pendant is at Sandringham.
"The other picture is by Charles Wylie entitled The Dying
Giant. It depicts a three-decker being broken up. We have
identified the ship as HMS Albion. For us it tells the
story of the transition from sail to steam, and wood to iron."
Both pictures came from the October 2, 2013, Marine Sale and
sold for £22,000 each.
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