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15th Jul 2020
Locks of Admiral Horatio Nelsons hair estimate 2000 3000

An extensive collection of Nelson-related lots are among the highlights of Norfolk-based Keys Auctioneers and Valuers Summer Fine Sale, which takes place on Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th July.

More than 100 items relating to the great admiral will be going under the hammer, including two locks of his hair, a rare early 19th century cup and saucer decorated with his crest and which is thought to have been presented to him, and various medals from Nelson’s military campaigns.

The Nelson lots were part of the Fiske collection, amassed by renowned Norfolk historian and Nelson expert the late Ron Fiske, the contents of whose home Morningthorpe Manor were auctioned by Keys over a four day special sale in 2016.

Highlights from the collection include:

  • Two paper packets containing locks of Nelson’s hair, the first packet inscribed in ink ‘The hair of Horatio Lord Nelson, given me by Horatia, 22 May 1818’ and the second ‘he great Lord Nelson hair cut off when he left off tying his hair’.  The pre-sale estimate is £2,000-£3,000.
  • An important early 19th century English porcelain cup and saucer, probably Coalport, decorated with the arms of Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson of the Nile, KB. A similar example is in the British Museum; it is thought the piece was commissioned for a banquet in Nelson’s honour, and may have been presented to him.  The estimate is £2,500-£3,000
  • Various naval medals dating from campaigns in which Nelson led the fleet, among the earliest medals issued by the Royal Navy.  Included are a Naval General Service Medal, clasp Copenhagen 1801, to Gunner Henry Harms, HMS Zephyr (estimate £3,000-£3,500); and a Naval General Service Medal, clasp St Vincent, to John Smith (estimate £2,000-£2,500)

“Despite some recent controversy about historical figures, interest in Nelson remains very high,” said David Broom of Keys.  “He was perhaps Norfolk’s most famous son, so it’s appropriate that these items are going under the hammer in his home county, but we expect interest from throughout the UK and overseas.”

A Fellow of the National Heraldry Society and a member of many local and national societies, Ron Fiske started collecting in the 1960s, with a particular interest in local history and extra illustrated books.  He was an inaugural member of the Nelson Society, and its chair for nine years.  He was very much in demand as an expert in the county’s history, and his library at Morningthorpe Manor became a magnet for academics and researchers.  He died in 2018.

Keys Auctioneers and Valuers Fine Sale takes place on Wednesday 29th July and Thursday 30th July online at bid.keysauctions.co.uk.  the full catalogue is available online now.