Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
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 Post subject: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 8:52 am 
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The Eastern Daily Press is always on the ball with Nelson news.

Here's an interesting letter - dated 1800 but with the signature simply 'Nelson' not 'Bronte Nelson of the Nile' or 'Nelson and Bronte'. I don't recall ever seeing a letter signed just 'Nelson'.

http://tinyurl.com/zhrsv37

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 11:12 am 
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Anna

With regard to Nelson using just his surname rather than including Bronte....... etc, I've had a look in my copy of Geoffrey Rawson's 1949 book of his letters from around this date and have come across three just signed NELSON. One to John Locker dated 27th December 1800 (regarding the death of William Locker), one to Lady Nelson sent from Southampton dated 13th January 1801 and one to Evan Nepean at the Admiralty from Plymouth on 28th January 1801. So for a short while at least, in some letters he kept it short.

The content of the letter is interesting with the reference to a diamond. It's a pity we don't know the intended recipient. Has anyone else come across similar correspondence concerning purchases of this nature by Nelson.

Phil


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 1:52 pm 
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Colin White gives a comprehensive summary of Nelson's bewildering changes of signature in 'The Nelson Companion'. I'm not sure how to copy the page but if any computer-savvy member googles 'Bronte Nelson signature' he/she will find the information and might be kind enough to post it here.

The diamond question is interesting; I think we can be sure it wasn't for Fanny!

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 2:43 pm 
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Here is the link to the Colin White page Anna found.

https://books.google.com/books?id=9bY7A ... re&f=false


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 11:35 pm 
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Many thanks, Jesse!

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:20 pm 
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Hi Anna,

You know, I wouldn't be so quick to discount it has being a gift for Fanny. He still hadn't 'taken his leave' of her at that point. A gift out of guilt, maybe? Or it could even have been for a sister.

I would imagine this letter is worth more than the average Nelson letter, which almost always sell for several thousand, since there are so few with him signing his name as simply 'Nelson'. Colin White's article about the signatures is very interesting. I feel that around the time he was playing with different signatures, Nelson was 'finding himself', and with the birth of Horatia and his commitment to Emma, taking his leave of Fanny, everything clicked into place for him as he switched permanently to Nelson & Bronte.

This is slightly on a tangent... But it seems to me that the form of signing "Nelson & Bronte" was quite unusual. I can't recall seeing a letter by another that was signed in such a way - they would be signed simply with their last name, or with the name of the place they were duke or lord of. If anything, he was Nelson, Duke of Bronte. I wonder why he chose that format? Why the ampersand? Did anyone at the time question it?

Vicki

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:56 pm 
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Hi Vicki,

I recall reading 'somewhere' that Nelson was advised/encouraged/instructed (not sure which) to place the foreign title 'Bronte' after the British title 'Nelson' out of deference to King George and so changed his signature from 'Bronte Nelson' to Nelson & Bronte. Can anyone confirm? Originally he probably wrote 'Bronte Nelson' as a dukedom is senior to a viscountcy; but clearly not if it's a foreign one(!)

My Nelson letter (date 30 May 1800) bears the signature 'Bronte Nelson of the Nile' which is also pretty rare I think.

I think it's a pity that he couldn't incorporate 'of the Nile' in his signature once he had to put 'Bronte' last. 'Nelson of the Nile and Bronte' is not very euphonious.

I wonder if it was customary to include the place where the honour was earned in military signatures. In recent times, they certainly did: I can recall seeing the signatures of both Viscount Montgomery ('Montgomery of Alamein' and Earl Mountbatten ('Mountbatten of Burma').

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:38 am 
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tycho wrote:
I wonder if it was customary to include the place where the honour was earned in military signatures. In recent times, they certainly did: I can recall seeing the signatures of both Viscount Montgomery ('Montgomery of Alamein' and Earl Mountbatten ('Mountbatten of Burma').


Earl St Vincent springs to mind.

Didn't William Nelson sign himself as Trafalgar at some point? I've got in the back of my mind somewhere that he did.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:55 am 
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tycho wrote:
Originally he probably wrote 'Bronte Nelson' as a dukedom is senior to a viscountcy; but clearly not if it's a foreign one(!)


Sorry, forgot to reply to this part!

I think that the Dukedom of Bronte actually meant more to Nelson, on a personal level, than the British viscountcy. He never felt truly appreciated by the British government (with justification, in my opinion) but in Naples he was adored by royalty and the public alike (well, most of them, considering the controversy there, but that's a whole other story!). Open adulatation was something he coveted above almost anything else.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:05 pm 
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Hi Anna

Colin White in " The New Letters " (p231) refers to the ' Bronte Nelson ' signature change. He writes that on his return to England in November 1800, it was pointed out that it was tactless to use a foreign title in precedence to an English one, so he reverted to just 'Nelson' until January 1801, when he was given official permission to use his Neapolitan title, settling on Nelson & Bronte.

Perhaps this is the reference you remember.

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Phil


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 2:14 pm 
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Phil: thanks for the reference to CW's New Letters - yes, that's where I must have read it.

Vicki: I think you're probably right about the viscountcy. Emma certainly considered it a paltry offering. St Vincent got an earldom after his victory.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:05 pm 
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Oh dear see what anyone thinks about this post.

I like anything to do with Nelson's day-to-day life so this letter is of interest - but on reading the auctioneer's transcription of the letter my first thought was "what on earth is Nelson going on about?"

I was going to make a post to ask if anyone could make proper sense of the letter - but before that went on to the auctioneers website so I could read a larger version of Nelson's original writing.

Well I am pretty sure that the auctioneers have misinterpreted one word and it makes all the difference. I think they have read "last" where it should be "lost". See my enlargement below.

If I am correct it seems that Nelson has lost a diamond and had previously enlisted the help of someone (recipient of the letter) to find it. In this letter he is thanking that person for their help but the diamond was not as valuable as he thought so he has gone ahead and bought a replacement.

Now I can't help thinking about the aigrette. Possibly a diamond fell out of it at some point. As I said above maybe he tried to find it and eventually decided to call it a day and buy a replacement. But it doesn't have to be the aigrette of course.

What does anyone think?. If there is a general agreement that I am correct shall I bother to tell the auctioneer? On several occasions over the years myself and others have had to tell highly paid auctioneers how to do their job. It all gets a bit wearisome!!

Attachment:
lost.jpg
lost.jpg [ 156.54 KiB | Viewed 1678 times ]


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:28 pm 
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It certainly does seem you are correct. I too thought of the aigrette. And yes, tell he auctioneer. It is the owner of the letter who deserves it be accurate.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:47 pm 
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Well spotted, Mark! I'm pretty sure you're right, about the diamond being 'lost'.
Was it from the aigrette? Very possibly. I believe the diamonds were not of the highest quality, so probably not worth £200 - a colossal sum in those days - today you can buy a small, loose, good quality diamond (0.18 carat) for about £200.

I'd be interested to hear the auctioneer's response.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Nelson letter for sale
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 12:01 am 
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I have done a bit more digging and lo and behold the facts behind this letter are all there in black & white (and nothing to do with the aigrette as I guessed previously).

I have access to one of the newspaper databases and I did a bit of digging in there and an example of what I found is below. I can't find it reported in the Times but it was in several regional newspapers - this one just happens to be the Ipswich Journal.

This event in Hamburgh where the diamond was lost was just as Nelson and the Hamiltons were at the end of their overland journey from Naples. Emma, not surprisingly, sang a couple of songs during the course of the evening. And it brings in the Queen of Naples and the Battle of the Nile. If the auctioneers make the most of all this info it has surely added another grand to the value of the letter!!

I will contact them but I first want to check out what happened to the sword that the diamond was lost from (the gift of the Queen of Naples). I probably have the answer here somewhere but if anyone can beat me to it that would be appreciated.

Why do I get myself into these things? LOL! :)

P.S. It makes you wonder if the auctioneers should withdraw the letter from this sale and do a proper marketing job on it for a later sale. But I don't suppose they will.

Attachment:
Diam.jpg
Diam.jpg [ 64.36 KiB | Viewed 2327 times ]


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