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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 39, September 27, 2009, Article 18

MORE ON ADMIRAL NELSON'S MEDALS

Darryl Atchison writes:

I received last week's E-Sylum which was - as usual - full of interesting tidbits to tease the enquiring numismatist. The article about the theft of Nelson's medals was particularly timely for me as we had only just returned a couple of weeks ago from visiting Nelson's and Wellington's tombs in the crypts of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. We were equally enthralled and creeped out at the same time.

Yossi Dotan writes:

Are you sure that the body of Admiral Lord Nelson was brought to the Painted Hall to lie in state in 1802? The battle of Trafalgar, in which Nelson died, took place three years later, in 1805. -Editor

Well gee, the Internet told me it was 1802, and the Internet is never wrong, right? I grabbed that reference from my old London Diary of my visit to the Painted Hall, and that had the incorrect date of 1802. Not sure how that happened (perhaps I just couldn't read my own handwriting), but I agree that 1805 is the correct date. -Editor

Jim Duncan of New Zealand writes:

I was intrigued to read your piece about Nelson's stolen medals.

I have a book, open as I speak, "Nelson's Purse" which tells the story of a stocking purse and much else Nelsonian, which the author Martyn Downer auctioned at Sotheby's in 2002. Page 329 says "...in the second drawer of the chest (was) a bag with Gold and Silver coins (guineas, 1/2 guineas).

Alongside the purse was a silver Nile medal, a gold snuff box made from the mast of the victory Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar on which he was killed, and, most intriguing of all, the Gold Nile medal worn by the immortal Nelson when he fell 21st October 1805 at Trafalgar."

This reference is from an inventory compiled in 1866 of material which disappeared until rediscovered in 2002, and says that this was the medal he had worn when he died. (Spelling in quote as per book, and therefore inventory).

Could this be the same medal about which you report? Downer was at Sotheby's from 1993 until 2003, when he was Head of Jewellery. The medal is illustrated courtesy Sotheby's. The book was fascinating, and detailed much of the work of Alexander Davison, Nelson's Prize Agent.

A further read has reminded me that Davison was Nelson's executor, and the chest of drawers in which the Nile medal was found was in Swarland Hall, Davison's home, and the finder was his son William, then a very old man. The book I quoted was published in 2004, oddly enough.

I have further discovered that Nelson gave his gold medal to Captain Hardy, who for some reason missed out, and told Davison that he (Nelson) would be happy with a silver or copper piece! But I think this just makes the whole thing more confusing, don't you? This was from a Google search, which brought me to a book written in the 19th century.

Tracing the provenance of Nelson's various medals is an interesting topic. Perhaps one of our readers can set us straight on which is which, and whether the particular ones stolen in 1900 have ever turned up. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: THE 1900 THEFT OF ADMIRAL NELSON'S MEDALS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n38a28.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

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