At Nesbits (19% buyer’s premium) in Portsmouth on February 3 the Edwardian silver box sold to the London trade at £5200 (estimate £4000- 6000).
Marked for John Evans, London 1902, the 8in (20cm) box was engraved AB Armitage In Remembrance 1901-04, along with the official expedition crest of a penguin on a glacier.
Albert Armitage, a veteran merchant seaman and Royal Naval Reserve officer, was an experienced polar sailor. He had served with Fridtjof Nansen in the Arctic and was second in command and navigator under Scott during the 1901-04 Discovery expedition.
He fell out with Scott, however, and Armitage was not placated by Scott’s published account of the episode in 1905. The two men met only once thereafter and it seems probable that this was when Scott gave Armitage a gift.
A similar box inscribed to Ernest Shackleton – and thus combining the two greatest British names in Polar exploration – took a premium-inclusive £35,600 at Christie’s in 1999. Dated 1904, it followed a similar falling out between the two men on the Discovery.
The Elgin marvels
Other silver to catch the eye at Portsmouth were two lots of fiddle pattern cutlery with desirable provincial Scottish marks, a set of six table spoons and a toddy ladle marked CF Elgin with a representation of the town’s former cathedral and its patron saint St Giles. The maker was Charles Fowler who operated from c.1809-24.
All Elgin silver is rare and as an added interest, Fowler usually marked his material simply ELN (rather than the town name spelled out in full) and did not always use both the St Giles and the cathedral wall mark. Such things matter.
The spoons made a 10-times top-estimate £2600; the ladle taking £560 from the same buyer.