In the War of Independence (1775-83) the exploits of Scots-born John Paul Jones (1747-92) were particularly daring. On September 23, 1779, Jones was in command of a squadron which took on a frigate, HMS Serapis, protecting a large convoy bound for England from the Baltic, off the Yorkshire coast. This action became known as the Battle of Flamborough Head.
Led by Capt Richard Pearson, the Serapis had engaged Jones’ ship the Bonhomme Richard. Challenged to surrender early in the battle, Jone had issued the famous riposte: “I have not yet begun to fight!”
Pearson was eventually forced to surrender – but only after a spirited defence that left Jones’ vessel so damaged that he was compelled to abandon ship. Instead of returning to France, Jones made for the nominally neutral Holland in the Serapis with the captive Pearson.
When Pearson was later rewarded with a knighthood, Jones remarked: “Should I have the good fortune to fall in with him again, I’ll make a Lord of him.”
A George III silver testimonial soup tureen and cover offered at Mellors & Kirk (17.5% buyer’s premium) on September 18 was “undoubtedly the most splendid of the testimonial plate, other gifts and freedoms” that acknowledged Pearson’s fight, according to the saleroom.
The inscription on the 14in (35cm) high, 111oz tureen, by John Wakelin & William Taylor, London 1780, the cover 1779, stated it was presented by The Russia Company.
Purchased from Marks Antiques, London in 2002, the tureen sold in the room for a mid-estimate £9500 in the Nottingham auction.
A fine example of Victorian regimental silver was offered by the Canterbury Auction Galleries (24% buyer’s premium) in Kent on August 7-9.
This 11in (27cm) silver gilt inkwell military was modelled as a crested helmet – as worn by the 10th Royal Hussars (The Prince of Wales’s Own) – resting upon a crossed sword, sabretache, cartridge case and belt.
The regiment dated back to 1715, formed as Gore’s regiment of dragoons in response to the Jacobite rising of that year.
Marked for Edward Stockwell, London 1874, this inkwell came from an estate in Portugal where its British owner had retired. It sold to the Middlesex trade on top estimate for £4000.