Resource: “To Horatio, from Emma, with Love”
You know what it’s like: you visit an antiques fair, see a piece of silver and say to your husband: “How pretty! And it’s only 15’000 quid! Let’s buy it, Reginald!” Happens every day. Or on the Antiques Roadshow.
Well, looking at the piece of silver in question, I can understand the buyers, because it’s truly lovely and should make the heart of every person interested in naval art and history beat faster.
There are two globes (the celestial one is the inkwell, the terrestrial one the sander), the taper stick is an anchor, and just look at the fantastic “dolphins” (fishes) which make the feet!
But while this is all very beautiful and impressive, it’s the inscription the inkstand carries which convinced the buyers to spend £ 15’000:
“Horatio from Emma” – is it possible that the lucky couple have found a so-far unknown token of love from Emma, Lady Hamilton to Horatio Nelson? That’s a tricky question. The inkstand is dated “1805”, and carries the maker’s mark of John Eames. But while the period is right and John Eames did make silver for Nelson, there’s no way to prove that the inscription is genuine. Without proof of some kind, the value of the inkstand would be about £ 6000. But if it can be proven that the inscription is genuine and Emma really gave this inkstand as a gift to her lover, then we’re talking about an estimated value of £ 40’000 here! (I’ll give you a moment to pick your jaws up from the floor).
Personally, I think that it is genuine, and I also feel that it’s the kind of gift Emma would have chosen for Nelson. Very lovely, and the thought that she must have given it to him in the year of his death is touching. Who knows, maybe it was even used on the Victory? I hope that the owners will find a way to prove that it’s a genuine item.
To be honest, I would die to have an inkstand like that. It’s a gorgeous piece of naval art, no matter if maker and previous owner were famous or not. If I could park my quills there, I’d probably even manage to write readable poetry!