A Paul Storr circular silver plate from Nelson's Nile service
Lot 52*
A George III silver circular plate from Nelson's Nile service,
Sold for £ 25,200 (US$ 33,483) inc. premium

Lot Details
A Paul Storr circular silver plate from Nelson's Nile service A Paul Storr circular silver plate from Nelson's Nile service
A George III silver circular plate from Nelson's Nile service,
by Paul Storr, London 1800,
with sloped gadroon edges, engraved on front with the Arms and Crests of Nelson opposite sides, diameter 28.5cm, 11.25 inches, weight 30oz.


  • Provenance:
    Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson to his devoted sister Catherine (1767-1842) who married, in 1787, George Matcham; thence to their eldest son George Matcham, Jnr. (1789-1877), who married Harriet Eyre and whose children adopted the surname of Eyre-Matcham, and by descent to [Mrs.?] G. Eyre-Matcham who sold them in 1933. Details of their subsequent ownership are available upon enquiry by prospective bidders.

    History of the ‘Nile’ silver:

    Amongst the numerous gifts and rewards which were showered upon Nelson in consequence of his victory at the battle of the Nile (1st August 1798) was a grant of £500 from the Public Subscription Committee at Lloyds of London “to be laid out in plate”. Such generosity by the Underwriters had, by then, become established practice after notable naval victories and the victors of the ‘Glorious First of June’ [1794], St. Vincent [1797] and Camperdown [1797] had already benefited from this largesse. As with all similar presentations, the orders for the plate went to Messrs. Rundell & Bridge, Jewellers, of Ludgate Hill who, in turn, organised the manufacture of the pieces required from leading silversmiths. In the case of the ‘Nile’ service, the order was placed with the famous Paul Storr, one of the most eminent craftsmen of his time, at which point the process stalled due to Nelson’s absence at sea which meant that he was not available to select the patterns of his choice. There is some limited evidence, albeit circumstantial, that Nelson finally made his selection whilst in London in November 1800 and whether this occurred or not, it is sufficient to record that Alexander Davison, Nelson’s Prize Agent, friend and financial adviser, wrote to Nelson on 23rd April [1801] to inform him that the service was “now completed”.

    In the meantime, Nelson himself had been instrumental in effecting yet another significant victory, namely that over the Danish fleet at Copenhagen on 2nd April [1801], for which the Committee of Lloyds gifted a further £500 to their hero to augment his growing collection of plate. When Nelson received the news of this second gift, he immediately instructed one of his captains, Edward Parker, to write to Alexander Davison asking him to contact Rundell & Bridge in order to “make what you think necessary to add to the rest, to make a complete set, such as plates or whatever you think right.” Although there is no extant record of what was made or when and to whom it was delivered, it must be presumed that Davison did as Nelson had requested given the quantity of plate in the latter’s possession, either at Merton or aboard “Victory”, at the time of his death in 1805.

    The subsequent history of Lord Nelson’s silver is tortuous in the extreme given the number of persons amongst whom it was divided. Certain pieces were retained by Lady Hamilton – it remains unclear whether this was with or without the Nelson family’s approval – but all of these had been sold by the time of her death, in 1815, to settle the perpetual debt which had overshadowed the remainder of her life. As was to be expected however, the bulk of the silver went to Nelson’s [legitimate] heir, his brother William, created Earl Nelson, thereafter passing into the ownership of the Bridport family via the marriage of the first earl’s daughter to the then Lord Bridport. At a celebrated auction in 1895, the Bridport family holding of all their Nelson relics, including a substantial quantity of silver, was placed on the open market and is now widely scattered; fortunately, at least some of it is now held in the National Collection and by Lloyds.

    Apart from the aforementioned however, a few pieces of the silver were also given as mementoes to Nelson’s siblings, most notably his favourite sister Catherine, invariably known as ‘Kitty’, from whence the items in this sale have emanated. Unseen and unknown by the present generation of collectors, the discovery of these two splendid oval meat dishes and their two accompanying plates is of real significance, especially since these lots come from the Nile service rather than the Copenhagen service, pieces of which have come up for sale in the past. They present an unrivalled opportunity for buyers to acquire a highly personal relic of Lord Nelson and something which he himself not only greatly prized but also used on a regular basis.
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