However, the large majority of these commemoratives, whether made in paper, textiles, silver, ceramic, glass or enamel, were celebrating the decisive victory of the Duke of Cumberland’s men. Few, like this gilt metal and enamel snuff box or bonbonniere, remembered the dead who fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie.
The decoration to both sides takes the form of a Jacobite rose decorated, against a tartan ground, with the names of 60 of those who were Martyred for King and Country. To the outer petals are the names and birthdates of ‘the Old Pretender’ James Edward Stuart (1688-1766) and his titular queen Mary Clementina Sobieska (1702-35) and those of Charles Edward Stuart (1720- 88) and his younger brother Henry Benedict Stuart (1725-1807).
Jacobite boxes of the same 3in (7.5cm) form are known – typically with non-descript covers concealing a portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie beneath. Most of them were made in Birmingham c.1760. However, this ‘martyrs’ box is unusual in its brazen display of political sympathies. It probably once contained a portrait miniature but it was now missing.
Jacobite memorabilia specialist Colin Fraser told ATG the source of this rare ‘martyrs’ design is an engraving tentatively attributed to the Edinburgh engraver Robert Strange. A known Jacobite who produced various propaganda and official items for the Jacobite cause, he also produced the famous portrait of Prince Charles taken from life while on campaign in Edinburgh. A pair of 4.5in (11cm) coasters made using the engravings sold for £1100 at Lyon & Turnbull in 2016.
The box came for sale at Knightsbridge auction house Kings Russell on November 2 from a private house in London with a guide of just £150-250. It had been inherited by the vendor’s grandmother whose family was involved in politics. The firm was inundated with enquiries from admirers, none of whom had seen another quite like it. The hammer price, bid by a Scottish collector on the phone, was £13,000 (plus 22% buyer’s premium).