Thursday, 16 July 2009

Fifteen Times Estimate for Rare Horatio Nelson Memorial Ring

Collectors were given another opportunity to purchase one of a very rare set of memorial rings dedicated to Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, at Lawrences of Crewkerne's Silver, Jewellery & Ceramics sale this month.

The handmade gold and enamel ring depicts the letter N for Nelson beneath a viscounts coronet and the letter B for Bronte. Nelson was made Duke of Bronte by Ferdinand IV King of Naples and Sicily, in recognition of Nelson's defeat of the French fleet in the Mediterranean at the Battle of the Nile (1798). The shank carries an inscription in Latin PALMAN QUI MERUIT FERAT which translates to 'let him bear the palm of of victory he who has won it'. The reverse is inscribed lost to his Country 21 Oct 1805 Aged 47.

Only around fifty eight of these memorial rings were crafted by London maker John Salter who was Lord Nelson's favoured silversmith. The rings were distributed by the executors of Nelson's will to his family, friends and the pall bearers at his funeral. A list of the original recipients exists in the British Museum.

Sotheby's sale Trafalgar held on the centenary of the battle offered four examples of the ring and each carried an estimate of between £15,000 and £20,000. Prices realised were all above the lower estimate and ranged from £16,100, up to £25,200 for the ring descending from George Matcham. The last memorial ring of this type to appear on the market was at Dreweatts Donnington & Priory Fine Jewellery sale in June 2008. Despite the ring being in very poor condition, with much of the enamel missing and other damage, it realised a strong price of £3,600 against an estimate of £250 to £350.

Given this Lawrences of Crewkerne's estimate of £800 to £1200 for thier fine example of this ring was certainly conservative and it was no surprise to find that the price realised was 15 times high estimate at £18,000.

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