VICTORIA - Archive of James Forbes, Queen Victoria's Commissioner at Balmoral Castle between 1896 and 1901
Lot 360
VICTORIA - Archive of James Forbes, Queen Victoria's Commissioner at Balmoral Castle between 1896 and 1901
Sold for £15,000 (US$ 18,352) inc. premium

Lot Details
VICTORIA - Archive of James Forbes, Queen Victoria's Commissioner at Balmoral Castle between 1896 and 1901 VICTORIA - Archive of James Forbes, Queen Victoria's Commissioner at Balmoral Castle between 1896 and 1901 VICTORIA - Archive of James Forbes, Queen Victoria's Commissioner at Balmoral Castle between 1896 and 1901 VICTORIA VICTORIA VICTORIA VICTORIA VICTORIA VICTORIA VICTORIA VICTORIA VICTORIA VICTORIA
Archive of James Forbes, Queen Victoria's Commissioner at Balmoral Castle between 1896 and 1901, comprising:

i. A series of over twenty autograph letters by Queen Victoria, to Forbes, May 1897 to July 1900 (for further details, see below) and related correspondence; a watercolour calendar illustrated with portraits of the Forbes's three children, inscribed by Victoria to Mrs Forbes on occasion of the birth of the youngest, to whom she stood Godmother; a telegram from Victoria on his birth and the child's birth-certificate signed by Victoria; a watercolour Christmas card of a thistle from Victoria, initialled by her overleaf; a handsome morocco-bound visitor's book for the Forbes's house, Craig Gowan, 1900 (signed by Victoria on 19 June 1900, by the Prince of Wales on 29 September 1900 and again as Edward VII on 14 October 1901, Queen Alexander, by the infant Edward [later Edward VIII] and Bertie [later George VI], by members of the household, the Mahdi's erstwhile prisoner Rudolf Slatin, and others); a collection of decorative royal menus; ephemera relating to the procession and funeral of the Queen at Windsor, at which Forbes was present (staying in the Round Tower); a fine signed photograph of George V; a programme of the cinematograph entertainment given at Balmoral for Edward VII and Alexandra, 14 October 1901; the collection contained in a handsome red morocco official dispatch case stamped with the royal monograph in gold, fitted inside with stamp box and ink wells, and with gilt brass lock and carrying handle, 430 x 310 x 150 mm.

ii. Grant of the Dignity of a Member of the fifth class of the Royal Victorian Order to James Forbes Esquire, double sided manuscript certificate, ink on paper, signed 'Edward R', framed and glazed, 305 x 195mm., February 1901

iii. Joseph Edgar Boehm (British, 1834-1890) 'John Brown 1896', a bronze, head and shoulders, bust on a wooden plinth, signed 'sculp J.B.', 180mm. high (including plinth)

iv. A silver christening mug, by Holland, Aldwinckle & Slater, London 1895, on domed stepped foot, the upper rim with embossed band of stylised scrolling foliate and shell pattern, the upper scroll of the acanthus capped scrolling handle formed as a mythical beast head, the side of the plain body engraved with inscription, with gilt interior, height to top of handle 120mm., weight 10oz., the presentation inscription reads: From Victoria R.J., June 1898

v. A heart shaped silver and tortoiseshell box, by J Batson & Son, London 1897, the tortoiseshell body framed with silver, the interior lip with presentation inscription, the lid with coin inset, (with damages), height 42mm., The inscription reads: To Mrs Forbes From Duke of York, April, 1899, The coin: With the bust of Queen Victoria facing left, the reverse with crowned lion rampart and Royal coat of arms, with legend 'Jubilee Of The Reign 1837-1897'

vi. A small collection of medals, The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, M.B.E., 1st type, Civil Division on a bow for a Lady, in Garrard case of issue; with a Diamond Jubilee Medal for 1897 and miniature, British Red Cross Medal, and minor prize medal

vii. Two framed military photographs of Captain D. Forbes and 2nd Battalion the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, 200 x 290mm., and smaller, framed and glazed, May 1923


  • QUEEN VICTORIA AT HOME IN THE HIGHLANDS: a particularly fine collection, the letters by the Queen, dating from the last four years of her life showing her close concern for her household, tenants and neighbours at Balmoral, of which, as her Commissioner, James Forbes had charge on her behalf. All the letters are on her usual heavy mourning paper and nearly all are signed "VRI" and run to a total of over eighty pages. They are written from Balmoral itself as well as Windsor, Osborne and Nice. The originals of Forbes's outgoing letters are in the Royal Archives, where copies of our letters have been deposited.
    The letters are, in places, outspoken and give a vivid impression of the Queen's personality; as for example in her discussion of how best to handle the evidently rather tricky minister at Balmoral: "be very careful to be exact & very discreet & keep out of rows (like the choir trouble) or writing in any of the papers wh. was one of Mr Sibald's accusations last year. But I fear Mr S. is of a vindictive spirit & I rather fear, not very exact himself. At any rate you shd try & find out the story abt the Free Kirk Minister, as I am sure that that is a 'mistake'. When Sir F. Edwards comes to Balmoral, he better be warned agt. Mr S. without entering into particulars as to poor Mr Strath's failings". Bereavement, as always, shows her at her most sympathetic; in this instance the object of her sympathy is William Brown, her personal servant at Balmoral, the brother of her beloved ghillie John: "The death of dear excellent Mrs Wm Brown whom I was so very fond of and with whom I had been so intimate is real grief to me & I dare not think of how dreadfully I shall miss her. Her loss is really irreparable... Poor William I do pity so much for he is so helpless & dear Lizzie was everything in the world to him. I am so grieved to hear he is far from well & very glad John is staying. Perhaps you cd help in arranging things... I have telegraphed to you about the safe for good William Brown. The letters there I had put together for the family to keep". The letters touch at several points on the Munshi, successor to John Brown in her affections: "Please see that the Munshi Abdul Karim's wishes respecting a little improvement in the Kitchen sh.d be carried out. You are aware that Mr Sibbald will give us the sacaremnt in our Chapel here – on Sunday. If any one of our own people shd. like to take it also, I shd. be very glad they shd. come"; as well as on Forbes himself and his family, whom the Queen clearly held in great esteem: "I am much interested to hear that... two of Mrs Forbes's Brothers have volunteered for S. Africa. The way in wh. everyone comes forward is wonderful & most gratifying and gtly to be admired & is most gratifying to me". By contrast, her grander neighbours sometimes received short shrift – "I have never invited the Duke of Atholl to come over with his men and I think it wd. be better not to do so this year. It wd. entail the encampment of his men in our grounds wh. wd. be inconvenient".
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  1. Henry Baggott
    Specialist - Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs
    22 Queen St
    Edinburgh, United Kingdom EH2 1JX
    Work +44 131 240 0916
    FaxFax: +44 131 220 2547
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