There are few more romantic names in English literature than Byron and his fondness for his Newfoundland, Boatswain, to whom he erected a monument at Newstead Abbey and wrote his Epitaph To A Dog, is well known.
The provenance for this collar included a 1903 auction catalogue (when it was bought by the Earl of Shrewsbury) and the transcript of a note by the widow of Byron’s gamekeeper at Newstead.
She wrote that the collar was engraved by ‘old Mr Carr of Nottingham’ and that damage was done ‘by a Bear which Lord Byron kept for his own amusement and with which Boatswain had many severe encounters’. Famously, having noted that students were forbidden to bring their dogs to Cambridge, Byron took a bear instead.
What did for Boatswain in the end was being bitten by a rabid dog in 1808 – his collar now in a fitted mahogany display case.
Bought by the vendor for £600 at Sotheby’s in 1976, the collar was estimated at £3000-5000 in the November 18 Leyburn auction and sold to a dealer, thought to be acting for a client, at £14,000.