ITEMS celebrating the life of Admiral Lord Nelson and his final victory at Trafalgar have made £491,438 at auction.
Belongings of the naval hero, who died on board HMS Victory in 1805, went on sale at Sotheby’s auction house in London today.
Among them was an ‘exceptionally large’ fragment of the Union flag believed to have flown on board Nelson’s flagship – now in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard – during the Battle of Trafalgar.
Fetching £297,000, the item was sold for nearly three times its asking price, initially estimated between £80,000 and £100,000.
A pair of silver 1799 sauce tureens emblazoned with Nelson’s coat of arms also achieved £106, 250.
Meanwhile, a grog chest and accompanying glass decanters belonging to Nelson, as well as love letters he penned to his mistress, Emma Hamilton, collected £68,750 and £19,438 respectively.
The items’ buyers – who Sotheby’s has not revealed – are the proud owners of an ‘emotional’ and ‘physical’ piece of history, says Andrew Baines, deputy director of heritage at The National Museum of the Royal Navy.
Mr Baines said: ‘One of the nicest parts of my role is witnessing the constant trickle of items, such as these, that are brought to our attention week in week out.
‘HMS Victory, Trafalgar and Nelson are all parts of a naval narrative that resonate to this day.
‘Everyone likes a victory, and Trafalgar was an enormous victory for the Royal Navy, but it is also made accessible by the very human story of Nelson, who exhibited many great qualities, but also significant imperfections.
‘Items such as this fragment, or the letters have the potential to provide a physical, and more directly emotional, connection to his story.’
The collection was sold as part of Sotheby’s ‘Of Noble and Ancient Descent’ sale.
It also featured a 1786 portrait of Emma Hamilton – painted by Irish neo-classic artist Gavin Hamilton – which sold for £369,000.