Resource: “To Horatio, from Emma, with Love”

14 January, 2011 at 12:57 am 9 comments

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!

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Entry filed under: art, nelson, resource, royal navy, tv. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

Resource: Bebreeched Regency Bare Fist Fighters! Fiat Lux: Light and Darkness in the 18th Century

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Artswebshow  |  14 January, 2011 at 1:58 am

    It certainly has the kind of elegance about it that wouldn’t come cheap.
    I doubt it’s a forgery, i think it’s genuine

    Reply
    • 2. Molly Joyful  |  14 January, 2011 at 8:30 am

      We should hold a poll here! 🙂

      It’s the perfect gift for a naval officer, Nelson loved silver – I also think it’s genuine. So I really hope some evidence will surface one day to give more information. The expert on the AR adviced the couple who bought the inkstand to enquire at the NMM. I wonder if they did, that’s certainly the place to look for information.

      Reply
  • 3. Anna  |  14 January, 2011 at 7:36 am

    Lovely, I agree. But a gift from Emma to Horatio? I doubt it. I don’t think there is a single record of Emma having used the name Horatio when addressing or mentioning her lover. He was always simply ‘Nelson’ whether in private letters to him, or about him, or in the poem ‘Emma to Nelson’ she wrote for him in which she writes of ‘Nelson’s love’ and ‘the secret look…from Nelson’s eyes’ and ‘every moment of my life/I feel my Nelson there.’ (Making ‘Horatio’ scan would, I admit, be a challenge!) I do feel that any inscription ordered by Emma would surely have been much more flamboyant and adulatory. Sorry to be such a wet blanket!

    Reply
    • 4. Molly Joyful  |  14 January, 2011 at 8:35 am

      Haha, don’t worry about being a “wet blanket”, you’re absolutely not. 🙂

      However, I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen gifts from Emma to Nelson coming up for auction which were simply dedicated “To Horatio from Emma”. I think I even linked to one of those auctions. And the expert of the AR might have pointed this out as an obvious sign for a forgery, yet while not in the position to give a final “aye” or “nay”, he seemed to be convinced that it’s authentic.

      And now I’m VERY tempted to mail the Antiques Roadshow and ask if they know whether the authenticity of the piece has been verified. 😉

      Reply
  • 5. Alaric  |  14 January, 2011 at 9:03 am

    As you say, a fine piece, whatever the provenance. Surely some mention would have been made, had Emma really commissioned it?

    Reply
  • 6. atherton  |  12 August, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    this tray would have been too important , from its being made,must be some record where its has been , can t be here without someone have seen this tray before in last 200 years , record must be around ,if not then ,must have been in place to keep it away from anyone after Lord Nelson death , after all family would not wish Emma in his life , if this is so ,should have very little ware on silver, must have been found not that long ago ,may have come on market after being found in estate , sold for fast buck

    Reply
    • 7. Molly Joyful  |  24 August, 2012 at 10:38 pm

      Unfortunately, the ARS never gave an update on the item, so I don’t know if the owner had it checked at the NMM or could find documentation on the purchase. Personally, I think it’s genuine, and as such, it should be in a museum.

      Reply
  • 8. Tommy Long  |  9 January, 2014 at 7:32 am

    I would very much like and update on the Lord Nelson and emma sliver ware a lady brought in which had an inscription saying to horatio from emma

    Reply
  • 9. JaniceG  |  25 June, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I wrote to Antiques Roadshow for a follow-up and, amazingly, they actually responded! “I’ve had a look in our database regarding the item from Tatton Park, and the owner has had various Nelson specialists and the National Maritime Museum look at the object but as yet it has not been proven or unproven as authentic. So still a bit of a mystery, I’m afraid!”

    Reply

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