Gold and enamel Nelson memorial ring by John Salter – £25,000 at Bonhams.

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It relates to the series of 58 rings made by the London jeweller and sworder cutter John Salter that were distributed by the executors of Nelson’s will to relations, close friends and pall bearers.

Each is worked in black, white and red enamel with a coronet and the word Trafalgar. The gold shanks are engraved on the outside Palmem Qui Meruit Ferate (let him bear the palm of victory who has won it) and the inner surface engraved Lost to his Country 21 Oct 1805 Aged 47.

A number of ‘standard’ Salter rings have appeared at auction over the last 20 years – selling for prices up to £18,000 depending on condition – and the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, has three in its collection.

However, there is no record of another to this design which includes a window below the coronet design for a hair insert. It is thought it must have been made either by special request or for important individuals at added cost, as Nelson’s hair samples were extremely rare even at the time.

Bonhams estimated it at £15,000-20,000 on April 27 and was rewarded with a hammer price of £25,000.

Barque with bite

Sold at £9000 was a fine shipbuilder’s model of the steel four-masted barque Mowhan dated 1892.

The 2872-tonne cargo vessel (later renamed the Oceana) was originally built by W Pickersgill & Sons of Sunderland for Iredale & Porter of Liverpool and plied the trade route between Europe and Australia, with this 4ft 9in (1.45m) model signed for the Wearside model maker W Spain & Son.

Intimate gift


Two views of a scrimshaw whalebone staybusk – £750 at Bonhams.

There were some good examples of the scrimshander’s art – including two early to mid-19th century whalebone staybusks of the type that were given as love tokens. As the busk was kept safely in a sleeve within a lady’s corset, it would have represented one of the most intimate gifts from a sailor.

The example worked with images of a three-masted ship in tempestuous seas, a potted plant, and a love heart with bow and arrows in the manner of the so-called Lady Wellington Engraver took £800, while another with whaling images and the name Gerald Gregory to the reverse brought £750.