Giuseppe Garibaldi: An Important Gold Freedom Box marked for James Hunt, London 1767, adapted by Hancocks 1864

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Lot 45*
Giuseppe Garibaldi: An Important Gold Freedom Box
marked for James Hunt, London 1767, adapted by Hancocks 1864

Sold for £ 56,250 (US$ 75,756) inc. premium
Giuseppe Garibaldi: An Important Gold Freedom Box
marked for James Hunt, London 1767, adapted by Hancocks 1864
Rectangular, the cover engraved with arms of London within elaborate ribbon-tied flowers, with reeded mount and rocaille thumbpiece, the baluster shaped sides applied with a star, the interior with a presentation inscription, together with the scroll of the Freedom of London, cased, length 11.5cm, depth 9cm, weight 500gms.

Footnotes

  • The engraved inscription reads:
    'A Common Council holden in the Chamber of the Guildhall of the City of London on Thursday the 7th day of April 1864 resolved that the honorary freedom of this city be presented to General Giuseppe Garibaldi on the occasion of his visit to this country as a tribute of respect to the most generous, brave and disinterested of patriots, and that a copy of this resolution be presented in a gold box of the value of one hundred guineas.
    Lawrence-Mayor
    Woodthorpe'


    Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) was an Italian general, politician and nationalist who played a significant role in the history of Italy. He was a central figure in the Italian Risorgimento, leading his band of "red-shirt" volunteers in the many military campaigns that led eventually to the formation of a unified Italy. He has been called the "Hero of Two Worlds" because of his military enterprises in Brazil, Uruguay as well as Europe. These earned him a considerable reputation in Italy and abroad, through exceptional international media coverage at the time made possible by the telegraph. His exploits made him a household name on both sides of the Atlantic: Russian peasants carried his icon; Balkan revolutionaries waited for him to lead them; both sides in the American Civil War tried to enlist him – and the English paid their tribute by immortalising his name in a biscuit.

    The enthusiasm that Garibaldi aroused in Victorian England was astonishing, and the reception he received on his visit to England in 1864 was probably without precedent. Surprisingly, for a radical, he was welcomed by both the government and the aristocracy as well as Working Men's Committees. He visited Tennyson on the Isle of Wight, Gladstone in London, called on the Provost of Eton and went by train to Bedford, where he visited the Britannia Iron Works. The crowds that greeted him at Vauxhall were so enormous that he required six hours to reach his lodgings on the Mall. His speech at Crystal Palace drew 25,000 supporters.

    The Illustrated London News stated at the time: 'No man has achieved a wider or more lasting fame; yet fame for its own sake has never got the mastery of his motives. Liberty! Italy! these are the two objects to which he has religiously consecrated all that he is and all that he has. His faith in them no misfortunes can shake.'

    The paper goes on to describe how Garibaldi was given the Freedom of London within a gold box. The box was drawn (see illustration) and described in the paper: 'The box, made by Hancock of Bruton Street, is a massive gold one ornamented by garlands of flowers and the arms of the city of London on the lid. There is the letter "G," in diamonds, with a gold star, on the front of the box.' The front now lacks the diamond-set G, (perhaps sold off later in Garibaldi's life when funds were short). This and other reports of the day were incorrect in saying that Hancock made the box, rather it was Georgian and re-fashioned by them. Hancock was the most fashionable jeweller of the time, favoured by Queen Victoria and makers of the Victoria Cross.

    One explanation as to why a second hand box was selected is that the decision, by a Court of Common Council, to award Garibaldi the Freedom of the City London in a gold casket worth 100 guineas had only been taken two weeks earlier. Insufficient time to design and create a new box from scratch, so Hancocks used a box from stock.

    Image reproduced courtesy and copyright: Illustrated London News Ltd. All rights reserved.

    "Illustrations of Garibaldi's Visit to England." Illustrated London News [London, England] 23 Apr. 1864: 398; 30 Apr. 1864: 405.

    Image courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, London.
Contacts
Giuseppe Garibaldi: An Important Gold Freedom Box marked for James Hunt, London 1767, adapted by Hancocks 1864
Giuseppe Garibaldi: An Important Gold Freedom Box marked for James Hunt, London 1767, adapted by Hancocks 1864
Giuseppe Garibaldi: An Important Gold Freedom Box marked for James Hunt, London 1767, adapted by Hancocks 1864
Giuseppe Garibaldi: An Important Gold Freedom Box marked for James Hunt, London 1767, adapted by Hancocks 1864
Giuseppe Garibaldi: An Important Gold Freedom Box marked for James Hunt, London 1767, adapted by Hancocks 1864
Giuseppe Garibaldi: An Important Gold Freedom Box marked for James Hunt, London 1767, adapted by Hancocks 1864
Giuseppe Garibaldi: An Important Gold Freedom Box marked for James Hunt, London 1767, adapted by Hancocks 1864
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