Written by Martyn Downer

Since 2002, I've managed the sale of ten out of the twelve highest priced artefacts belonging to Nelson including the undisclosed record price for his gold pocket watch. Here are some highlights of those and other memorable sales and exhibitions I've been involved with.

Captain Hardy’s Trafalgar Watch »

In 2024, almost twenty years after I handled the sale of the gold pocket watch worn by Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar (see Nelson’s Watch), I sold the watch carried on that same fateful day by Nelson’s faithful flag captain and friend Thomas Masterman Hardy. Captain Hardy’s Trafalgar Watch THE GOLD WATCH […]

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Historic Model of HMS Victory »

On 5 July 2022, Sotheby’s London sold an extraordinary early model of HMS Victory which had been on loan at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich since 1962. Familiar to scholars, the model is the only known contemporary model of Victory in her Trafalgar state and it offers an invaluable and important material record to the […]

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The Nelson Map, Norfolk »

In 2022, I created The Nelson Map for the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Admiral Lord Nelson’s birthplace village of Burnham Thorpe in North Norfolk. Based on a survey of Norfolk published in 1797, the map highlights places of especial interest to Nelson’s early life including his school in Norwich and the houses […]

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Nelson in His Own Words »

In October 2022 I curated an exhibition at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth of Nelson letters from the collection of the The Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation in Athens. The collection includes never-before-seen letters from Nelson to his mistress Emma, Lady Hamilton, and orders written by the admiral in the days leading up to […]

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Lord Castlereagh’s Silver Inkstand »

A George III silver Treasury inkstand Henry Nutting, London, 1805 Rectangular on four scroll feet, the double hinge cover with swing handle and engraved Royal arms of King George III and a coat-of-arms under a coronet of STEWART quartering another with Hobart in pretence for Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, later 2nd Marquess of Londonderry (1769-1822) […]

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“Lord Nelson’s Victory off Trafalgar” rediscovered painting by American artist Mather Brown »

MATHER BROWN (1761-1831) Lord Nelson’s Victory off Trafalgar Oil on Canvas, circa 1805-7. 101.6 x 124.5cm (40 x 49 inches), framed. PROVENANCE: After 1807: Sold by the artist to the “Mayor of Liverpool”, probably John Bridge Aspinall (1758-1830, Mayor of Liverpool in 1804). May 1922: Sold Christie’s, London. 1966: With Hahn & Son, London. 1966-70: […]

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CHARLES DICKENS SILVER MEAT DISH »

A George II silver meat dish, plain oval with gadroon edge, by Samuel Herbert, London 1759, later engraved in two places with the crest of Charles Dickens (1812-1870). Dimensions: 38 x 28cm (15 x 11 inches). Weight: 28.2 oz. approx.. Despite feigning no interest in his family pedigree and mocking the pretensions of those who […]

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Re-discovered painting of the death of Nelson »

The Death of Nelson, 1805 Samuel Drummond (1765-1844)  Oil on canvas, framed, 52 x 62cm. Probably Royal Academy, London, Summer 1806 (catalogue number 505), as Sketch for a death of Lord Nelson Private collection, Somerset. This vivid image might be considered the earliest artistic reaction to the death of Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar […]

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Founder of the Ionian Academy »

The Honorary Degree awarded in 1819 to Frederick North, fifth Earl of Guilford by Oxford University for his founding of the Ionian Academy, the first Greek academic institution of modern times and forerunner of the University of Athens. Comprising: manuscript on vellum with tasselled ribbon supporting the wax seal of Oxford University within a George […]

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Oliver Cromwell’s Watch »

A mid-17th Century Puritan silver fob watch by William Clay, circa 1645, verge movement with gut fusee and worm-and-wheel set up, the top plate with pierced balance cock engraved William Clay fecit, supported on truncated pyramidal Egyptian pillars, the circular face having a single steel beetle hand, Roman numerals and 15-minute chapter within an outer […]

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