Bonhams Nelson Horatia Teapot

A Chamberlain Worcester teapot, cover and stand from the Horatia service, estimate £25,000-35,000 at Bonhams.

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The auction, titled Nelson Forever! A Naval Legacy in Ceramics and Glass on April 23, includes pieces from some of the most celebrated services made for the British naval hero and his great love, Lady Emma Hamilton.

Nelson, a great admirer of fine porcelain, owned several celebrated services – some given as presentation gifts, others he commissioned himself at great expense. Most are mentioned in the inventory of Lady Hamilton's possessions when she was forced to part with almost everything in return for loans in 1813.

A London-decorated Paris porcelain teapot and cover from the 'Baltic' service is estimated at £20,000-30,000.

It carries the words 2nd April, Baltic – references to the day in 1801 when Nelson destroyed the Danish fleet at Copenhagen with additional dates, 14th February and Glorious 1st, remembering victories at Cape St Vincent in 1797 and the 1794 Battle of Ushant.

The service – embellished in a London decorating workshop on both Copeland and Paris porcelain blanks – was part of a presentation of chinaware given to Nelson in 1802 by the Ladies of the City of London. A tea set was listed at Merton, the Surrey home Nelson and Hamilton shared together, in an 1805 inventory with other elements of the service owned by family members.

Only occasionally do pieces turn up for sale. This teapot last sold for £28,000 (£35,000 with premium) at a Waterloo-themed auction held by Bonhams in 2015. 

Bonhams Nelson Baltic Teapot

A London-decorated Paris porcelain teapot and cover from the Baltic service, estimate £20,000-30,000 at Bonhams.

The 138-lot sale includes eight pieces from the so-called Horatia service made c.1802-03 at the Chamberlain’s Worcester factory. The commission, named after Nelson’s daughter, is well-documented: a breakfast, dinner and dessert service decorated in pattern number 240 with the addition of Nelson’s arms.

James Plant, a junior painter at the Chamberlain factory, later recalled the moment the distinguished visitors arrived in the decorating studio to place the order. ‘And then,' said Plant, 'a very battered looking gentleman made his appearance – he had lost an arm and an eye – leaning on his left and only arm was the beautiful Lady Hamilton, evidently pleased at the interest excited by her companion; and then, amongst the general company following after, came a very infirm old gentleman – this was Sir William Hamilton.'

Only the breakfast set was completed at the time of Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar. While the bill totalling £120, 10 shillings and sixpence was eventually paid from his estate, the 150-pieces were kept as surety against money advanced to Emma and later dispersed at auction.

The eight items here range from a small dish, estimated at £600-800, to a teapot, cover and stand guided at £25,000-35,000.

 A Coalport cup and saucer painted with a portrait of Lady Hamilton is signed and dated 1804 by the celebrated porcelain decorator Thomas Baxter. Painted in the year before Trafalgar, this is probably the piece referenced in a letter Nelson wrote to Emma on board HMS Victory on May 27, 1804: 'Your dear phiz (face) - but not the least like you - on the cup, is safe; but I would not use it, for all the world; for, if it was broke, it would distress me very much.'

The cup and saucer were likely a personal gift from Emma Hamilton to Nelson. It is known that Baxter visited Emma at Merton, the Surrey home she shared with Nelson, on multiple occasions where he sketched her from life. The estimate is £15,000-25,000.  

Bonhams Nelson Baxter Cup

A Coalport cup and saucer by Thomas Baxter, dated 1804, estimate £15,000-25,000 at Bonhams.